When Heart Disease Was Rare

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Use butter for a healthy heart.

Did you know that heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the last century? Then suddenly between 1920 and 1960, heart disease became America’s number one killer.

So what happened? At this time in modern history, a major marketing campaign was launched to demonize butter in replace of margarine. Butter was labeled as causing heart disease, with margarine right there to take its place.

And it worked.

Butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to merely four. Margarine sales hit the roof.

Heart Disease

Today, heart disease is still a major health threat and statin drugs are a big seller, but I think it’s safe to conclude that butter is not the cause. Nevertheless, research shows that trans fats found in margarine can cause heart disease.


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The battle between butter versus margarine has been rigged from the beginning.

Margarine was discovered in 1869 as the product of Napoleon III’s request for a wholesome butter alternative. This was not because butter was unhealthy.

Napoleon’s primary goal was to supply food to the French army that would not spoil.

This new discovery worked, and after WWI, manufacturers introduced this “new margarine wonder” to the American public, using the fear of heart disease as its main endorsement.

After WWI, margarine came out of American commissaries and into the grocery stores. Many products have been born from wartime needs, and good-ole-natural-butter was pushed off our tabletops as a war casualty.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t because butter is unhealthy; it is because margarine has many marketing advantages over butter – margarine can sit on the grocery shelves for months without spoiling, and diluted margarine products bring in more corporate profits.


Butter - When Heart Disease Was Rare

Butter is a far superior choice over man-made margarine – it always has been and always will be.

Butter is a cooking treasure as old as King Tut’s tomb. My grandparents ate nothing but butter every day, and they lived to be over 100 years old with no heart problems. Butter didn’t harm them, and it shouldn’t harm you or me when used in moderation, and when eating from organic and natural sources.

Unlike margarine, butter contains many nutrients that protect human beings from heart disease.

Vitamin A found in butter is a critical nutrient for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, which both play a role in heart and cardiovascular health. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter also has vitamin E, and both vitamin A and vitamin E in butter play a strong anti-oxidant role in human health.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat components. Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against free radical damage that can weaken the arteries.

Butter is a very rich source of selenium, another vital anti-oxidant. Butter contains more selenium per gram than herring or wheat germ.

Your immune system loves butter, not margarine or margarine products. Hydrogenated fats found in polyunsaturated oils, margarine, and many butter substitutes have a toxic effect on the immune system.

So, as King Tut would say, butter is better.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Seniors

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As people age, a change in the appetite can be normal because the metabolism slows as does the activity level, which means the body needs fewer calories.

If meals are being skipped or poor food choices are being made, the nutrition of your loved one can suffer.

Poor nutrition can lead to undesired weight loss and jeopardize the immune system, making a senior more susceptible to infections like the common cold or even the flu, said Karen Hunley, director of Dietary Services for American Senior Communities.

Benefits of Proper Nutrition for Seniors

There are ways, however, to stimulate the appetite, Hunley said.   And the benefits of proper nutrition for seniors range from increased mental capacity and higher energy levels to better resistance to illness and disease.  A senior with better eating habits will feel better overall and live longer and stronger.

Some of the ways to promote healthy eating habits among seniors include:

  • Increase the nutrient density, not the portion size.  Large portions or a lot of different food items presented all at once can be overwhelming. For example, prepare hot cereal and soups with milk instead of water, add peanut butter to toast instead of butter or add cheese to scrambled eggs.
  • Set regular eating schedules. Bodies thrive on routine. When we stray from our typical schedules the appetite is affected.
  • Encourage social meals. The thought of eating alone can decrease appetite. At American Senior Communities, residents are encouraged to have meals in the dining rooms where they can socialize with others, which can help improve food intake.
  • Enhance smells, flavors with herbs, sauces, marinades.
  • Avoid excessive liquids before or during meals. Beverages can fill us up and reduce appetite.

“When a resident is admitted to an American Senior Community location, we complete a nutrition assessment that includes an interview to determine their typical eating pattern, favorite foods and is an opportunity to discuss any problems involving the appetite,” said Hunley.

There are many reasons that appetite can be decreased so if you are concerned about your loved one’s appetite, have them evaluated by their doctor to be sure there isn’t a more serious underlying cause, Hunley said.

A senior may face any number of obstacles in their quest for proper nutrition. Their caregivers must be observant to their loved one’s eating habits to make sure they aren’t at risk for the health threats that come with poor nutrition.


The Benefits of Being Social as You Age

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You may know how important it is to stay physically active, but are you aware of the importance of social health as well as the benefits of being social as you age? Social contact can be just as effective as exercise at improving your mood and quality of life. If you aren’t maintaining social interactions on a daily basis, you may be putting yourself at risk for depression or even dementia. Staying socially active can help you maintain good physical and emotional health as well as cognitive function.

The Benefits of Being Social for Seniors

Not only does interaction with peers lead to a sharper mind, but it gives you a sense of belonging and keeps you connected to the world around you.

In addition, there are health benefits of being socially active, such as a potentially reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even some cancers. An active social life can boost your immune system and improve your nutrition, since you tend to eat more when you’re around others. Being social can lower your blood pressure and potentially reduce the symptoms of depression. As you can see, social activity is vital to seniors for their health and mental well-being.

So, what are some of the ways seniors can stay socially connected and active? Connect with any American Senior Communities location.  They offer numerous social activities for seniors that are open to the public.  Go to www.ASCSeniorCare.com/events.

Here are other social activities for seniors:

1)      Volunteer. If you’re physically able, volunteering in your community can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

2)      Go back to work. Working even at a part-time job can help keep your mind stimulated and keep you connected to others on a regular basis.

3)      Join a club or group. Whether it be a book club, garden club, or a golf group, these meet-ups are a great way to get introduced to new people and share experiences with those who have similar interests.

4)      Take a class. Sign up for a writing course or an art class at a community college or adult education center. You’ll learn something new while interacting with others and keeping your brain active.

5)      Join a gym. As mentioned before, staying physically active is also very important for seniors, and by joining a gym you’ll get double the benefit. You’ll keep your body active as well as have social engagement with others.

6)      Visit family. Reach out to family often to maintain these relationships. You can even offer assistance with babysitting your grandchildren.

7)      Learn new technology. Learning to use the internet will give you the ability to connect via email or social media with friends and loved ones who don’t live nearby. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the 74+ demographic is the fastest-growing group across web-based social networks!

The benefits of being socially active will last far into your future. Staying active and social can only enhance your life as you age, so keep those connections strong!


Hoosiers and Senior Care Infographic

By 2050, the number of Hoosiers 65 and older will nearly double to about 1.6 million and the majority will need long-term care. Services they may need might include in-home care, assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing care.

American Senior Communities has about 70 locations in Indiana that offer Senior Health and Memory Care services.

What can be expected in Indiana as this population continues to age?   This Hoosiers and Senior Care infographic is a snapshot of how aging Hoosiers will increasingly need services. These might include meal service, medication management or assistance with activities of daily living, as well as memory care and assisted living.

Modern assisted living facilities have staff that specializes in activities and recreation for seniors. Some facilities have even begun encouraging residents to bring their pets with them, and they offer services like dog walking and litter box cleaning.

By 2050, it’s expected that more than 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease.  This disease costs Americans $214 billion annually, and care providers, such as American Senior Communities, are increasingly offering both assisted living and memory care to people who move in with early stages of the disease but still can remain somewhat independent.

As our aging loved ones get older and it becomes too difficult to provide the level of care they need in-home, consider an American Senior Communities location that offers a continuum of care.

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American Senior Communities:Where Caring People Make the Difference


Pets and the Elderly

bigstock Old Man And His Dog 13274336 1 300x200 - Pets and the ElderlyPeople of all ages benefit from owning a pet. Seeing that furry face come to greet you at the front door after a long day gives one a feeling of being important and needed. Simply having a pet sit next to you as you watch television or read a book offers a calming, comforting effect. It’s been proven that animals can help lower blood pressure and stress, reduce heart rate and even fight depression. These are all great reasons for the elderly to consider owning a pet.

Pets can also help seniors maintain a daily routine, which is a key factor in slowing the aging process. For seniors who live independently, having a pet can help bring purpose to their lives and offer them a companionship they may not otherwise have.  This is especially true when a senior is somewhat isolated or lives far away from family. Some seniors have reported that they feel as close to their pets as they do to family.

Animals can help seniors stay socially engaged. Walking a dog offers not only the important physical activity seniors need, but also gives an opportunity to talk to others about their pet. Pets also give seniors the physical contact they may need; a study showed that 74% of seniors with pets reported that simply touching their pet made them feel better. When social involvement is restricted due to physical limitations, an animal companion gives the elderly person an accessible source of social contact. This can lead to reduced feelings of loneliness and depression.

Having a pet during stressful times is also proven to be extremely helpful. Losing a spouse, for example, can be one of the most difficult situations a senior can experience. A study showed that those who owned pets reported significantly less stress than non-owners during these types of events. Owning a pet gives seniors a purpose and offer a coping ability to deal with losses.

Most seniors who own pets in their later years were pet owners throughout their lives, but this doesn’t mean if your aging loved one has never owned a pet it’s too late to consider doing so. The benefits pets offer the elderly are important to note and can greatly enhance their lives. There are, however, some things to consider if you or your aging loved one is considering adopting a furry companion.

  • Pick the right pet for your loved one. Different types of animals have different needs, and you should choose the one that will best suit your loved one and their current health situation.  For example, dogs tend to have more energy and need more attention than a cat. If taking a dog on a walk several times a day isn’t possible for your loved one, a cat might be a better fit.
  • Age is important. Puppies and kittens are adorable, but they do require a lot of care. An energetic, young animal may not be the right fit for an elderly person. There are many animal adoption agencies that offer senior animals, all in need of a loving home, and these pets may be the perfect companion for your loved one.
  • Is assistance available? If something were to happen to your loved one and they could no longer car for their pet, make sure there is a plan in place to guarantee the animal will not be neglected. Many assisted living facilities, American Senior Communities included, are now offering pet-friendly facilities, where your loved one can bring their pet with them to their new living arrangement.


The Dangers of Seniors Living Alone

bigstock Lonely old woman sitting by th 71618665 300x200 - The Dangers of Seniors Living AloneAccording to the Administration on Aging, in 2012, 28% of all older people not currently living in an assisted living facility were living at home alone. While many of those in their 70s, 80s and even their 90s can live completely independent lives, certain physical and mental conditions can cause dangerous scenarios for seniors living alone.

It’s vital that the environment our loved ones are living in is safe and meets all their current needs. If you suspect that your loved one may be having some difficulties within their home, it may be time to assess their situation and determine whether remaining alone in their home is the best option for their health and safety.

Signs Your Loved One is Unsafe Living Alone

There are certain things to watch for if you’re concerned that your loved one should not be living independently anymore, including:

  • Condition of the home: While it’s understandable that the home may not be completely spotless, the condition of your loved one’s home should still be safe and manageable. Your loved one should still be able to do basic household tasks like washing dishes, vacuuming, and taking out the garbage. If the house is cluttered and dirty, lighting is poor, carpets are loose, and the stairs are steep, it might be time to consider a different living space for their safety and health.
  • Cognitive issues: Your loved one may begin displaying memory issues or showing signs of inappropriate thinking. Perhaps they’re acting differently and are having problems with normal household tasks, like paying bills or keeping food in the house. These could be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and your loved one will need professional care to ensure their safety.  Even in these early stages, if a senior is suffering from memory lapses the results can be dire, especially if they’re forgetting to take their medication or attempting to drive.
  • Behavioral changes: You may notice a change in your loved one’s hygiene, social interactions or appearance. Your loved one may start to withdraw from society and seem depressed. It may become hard to reach them or get them to leave the home.
  • Physical impairments or diseases: While some diseases like diabetes are manageable for seniors living alone, other impairments that tend to come with aging may be too much for your loved one to handle on their own. Diseases like Parkinson’s or recurring strokes can require professional, intensive care. Perhaps you’re spending a great deal of your time with your loved one at various doctor’s appointments or your loved one has fallen numerous times, resulting in broken bones that take a long time to heal.
  • Need more care than family can provide: This is one of the most difficult things to admit- that the family caregiver is in over their head.  When the physical or financial tasks of caring for your loved one becomes too much, it’s time to consider that an assisted living facility can provide the professional care your loved one deserves.

Watch for the signs and know when it’s time to make the important decision that it may be time to consider moving your loved one to an assisted living facility.


Dealing with Loss of Appetite in the Elderly

bigstock Senior citizens couple eating 60941447 300x200 - Dealing with Loss of Appetite in the ElderlyLoss of appetite in the elderly is considered to be a normal part of the aging process. That said, it’s still important to understand why your loved one’s appetite may be diminishing.  This way you’ll be able to understand what the cause may be so you can help try to stimulate their appetites, which can play a huge role in maintaining overall health.  You’ll also know if you have other causes for concern; a decreased appetite, while typical in seniors, can also be a sign of serious medical problems, especially when a noticeable weight loss is involved.

Loss of Appetite Causes

There are a variety of factors that can play a role in loss of appetite in the elderly, including:

  • Problems with dentures: Ill-fitting dentures and continuous wear can cause discomfort in the gums.  If your loved one’s mouth hurts, they may find the idea of eating solid foods unappealing due to the pain it causes.
  • Medication side effects: Some medications can cause nausea and loss of appetite in seniors. If you are concerned that medications may be the source of your loved one’s diminished appetite, make sure to talk to a doctor or health professional.
  • Depression or loneliness: Being socially isolated causes depression and loneliness in the elderly; the prospect of eating a meal alone is enough to reduce one’s appetite.
  • Changes to the senses: As we age, it’s common for our sense of taste and smell to change.  Foods our loved ones once enjoyed may no longer seem appealing, or the changes to their taste buds may cause them to make poor food choices.
  • Illness or disease: Although a decreased appetite in the elderly is somewhat normal, it’s important to know that it can be a result of certain serious illnesses. Thyroid disorders, certain cancers, periodontal disease, and Alzheimer’s can all cause loss of appetite. If your loved one experiences a very sudden weight loss or weight gain, consult with a physician as soon as possible.

How to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

Encouraging healthy eating habits in your loved one is key to stimulating appetite, and this can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Set a schedule. Routine is important to the elderly, and they are often creatures of habit. Create a meal plan in which breakfast, lunch, dinner and a few snacks are given at the same time of the day, every day.
  • Make it a social event. Whenever possible, have your loved one eat meals with others, whether it is with yourself or at a community center, church or senior center to help them avoid the loneliness and depression that can stem from eating alone.
  • Decrease portions while increasing calories and nutrients. A large amount of food set before seniors can overwhelm them and can deter them from eating altogether. Start with smaller portion sizes and offer second helpings. Increase the amount of calories they intake by adding things like olive oil, cream, whole yogurt or peanut butter to meals.
  • Be creative and colorful. Even though seniors can be set in their ways, it can’t hurt to try to introduce new foods, especially given the fact that their taste buds may have changed. Also, keep foods on the plate colorful and appealing to the eye.

If you’re concerned about the eating habits of your elderly loved one, don’t be afraid to first reach out to a health professional for more advice. Appetite loss should not be ignored due to the fact that it could be the sign of a serious health condition, and a healthy diet is vital to your loved one’s overall quality of life.


Aging Myths Debunked

bigstock Happy and smiling senior coupl 47656249 300x199 - Aging Myths DebunkedWhen you picture an elderly person, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a classic “little old lady,” hunkered down in a rocking chair, knitting a sweater? Or, maybe you think of a “grumpy old man,” yelling at kids to stay off his lawn.

These are just a couple of stereotypes of aging adults.  However, today’s seniors are healthier, livelier and living exciting and vibrant lives past the age of 65. While every senior is different, the idea that aging means depression, loneliness and decline in overall health is just not true. Healthy aging is actually more common than ever, and research even shows that life actually gets better in many ways as we grow older.

The Top 5 Myths About Aging

Here are just a few of the myths surrounding the aging process:

1)      All seniors get dementia. While it is true that dementia is linked to age, studies show that only about 8% of people over the age of 65 have dementia. Early detection is more important than ever, and new medications and treatments are now available that can help slow the disease.

2)      All seniors are lonely. Social isolation can become an issue for some seniors as they age in the home, mainly because transportation may start to become inconvenient or dangerous for them. However, many seniors are quite engaged socially, belonging to book clubs, golf clubs, bowling teams, and church groups. Many seniors are actively involved with family and caring for their grandchildren, too.

3)      Growing old means living in poverty. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that of Americans aged 65 or older, only around 9% fall under the poverty line. Actually, older adults tend to be better about saving money and not spending it frivolously- except, of course, when it might come to their grandchildren!

4)      The elderly should not risk exercising. Healthy aging requires healthy living, and seniors need exercise just as much as younger people. Physical activity helps keep the muscles limber and bones strong, which will aid in avoiding the risk of falls. Even the frailest of seniors should take part in some sort of physical activity each day, whether it’s water aerobics, tai chi, yoga or taking a walk around their neighborhood.

5)      Seniors can’t learn new things. There’s that saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In the case of aging adults, this is simply not true. Many seniors participate in classes to learn new hobbies and technology. The ability to continuing learning never diminishes, although the speed at which we learn may slow down.

The stereotypes many people have in mind when it comes to seniors are just that- stereotypes. There is no reason to think that as you age you will be lonely and immobile, and that you will have to rely on others for everything because you are too stuck in your ways to learn new things. Healthy aging is entirely possible, and you will find that your golden years may be some of the best years of your life.


Avoiding Senior Isolation during the Winter Months

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The cold winter months can make things difficult for aging adults. Seniors are not only more vulnerable to illness and infection when the temperatures drop significantly, but the snow and ice can also make them more susceptible to falls and accidents.

One of the most significant effects winter can have on aging adults, however, is the increased risk for social isolation.

The Effects of Social Isolation in the Elderly

Humans are inherently social beings, and this doesn’t change as we grow older. However, many seniors find themselves living alone with no family close by, either due to a spouse passing away or grown children moving out of the area. Plus, today’s busy lifestyles don’t always allow family to visit their aging relatives as often as they may desire.

Seniors can face a variety of problems if they are not staying socially connected. Social isolation in the elderly can affect both a person’s health and well-being. Feeling isolated can lead to detrimental health effects in seniors, like increased blood pressure, a higher risk for dementia, more falls and hospital stays, and even can increase the risk of death. Feeling lonely can also lead to depression and poor physical and mental health.

Ways to Stay Socially Connected through the Winter

If you or your loved one is facing isolation this winter, there are steps you can take to ensure the feeling of loneliness doesn’t last long.

  • Visit frequently. Even if you don’t live near your loved one, it’s important to try to schedule regular visits as often as possible. Many seniors look forward to family get-togethers, so try to plan a few events throughout the winter months to enjoy a family dinner and some good conversation. At the very least, call or email your loved one frequently to stay in touch.
  • Reach out to neighbors or friends living nearby. If it’s impossible for you to visit as often as you would like to, ask for the assistance of the aging senior’s friends or neighbors. Ask neighbors to stop by once a week or so to check in.
  • Join a senior community center. Many towns have senior centers available that offer a way for aging adults to connect with each other. They offer programs and events to keep seniors engaged throughout the year.
  • Encourage daily exercise. A few minutes of physical activity every day can help improve your mood and ward off depression. Plus, exercise helps increase your mobility and can lessen the risk for falls.
  • Consider pet adoption. A furry friend can help reduce feelings of isolation; a pet offers constant companionship to aging seniors.
  • Utilize technology. Learning programs like Skype and video chatting gives seniors a way to stay in touch with friends and family no matter how far away they may be. Even if an in-person visit isn’t possible, the use of today’s personal communication technologies makes it possible to have face-to-face conversations.

Avoiding senior isolation during the winter months isn’t impossible. Just remember to take a few extra steps during these long winter days, and spring will be here before you know it.

The Best Approaches to Preventing Falls in the Elderly

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bigstock young caregiver helping senior 41561266 300x200 - The Best Approaches to Preventing Falls in the ElderlySeniors fall for a variety of reasons. Walking down the icy driveway in the winter, for example, or a foot slipping off the curb can cause a fall. Perhaps they are experiencing muscle loss which leads to balance issues and reduced strength, poor eyesight, or feeling dizzy and weak from certain medications. Maybe they recently suffered a stroke.

Whatever the reason may be, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people aged 65 and older. But there are some measures that can be taken to help prevent these types of falls and accidents.

Elderly Fall Prevention Tips

Accidents can occur any time, but by taking some extra precautions, preventing falls in the elderly is possible. A few things to keep in mind for elderly fall prevention include:

  • Maintain regular doctor appointments. By getting your eyesight and hearing checked at least once per year, you can help reduce your risk of falling. You need to be able to see objects in your path that could cause you to lose your balance, after all. Anytime you notice a change in your vision or hearing, make an appointment to see your doctor.
  • Take care of your health. Along with seeing your doctor regularly, take care of yourself in between appointments by keeping your bones strong. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, and pay attention to when you’re feeling ill. If you are weak from illness, don’t try to walk around as much. Also, drink plenty of water, especially during warm weather.
  • Learn about medication side effects. Seniors are usually on a variety of medications, some of which could have side effects that affect your balance. Talk to your doctor to get informed about the medications you’re taking, especially if you’re taking a combination of medicines.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity is important to prevent falls in the elderly. There are many exercises that are safe for seniors that can help improve your balance, flexibility and muscle strength.
  • Safeguard your home or living space. Take a look around your home and note possible things that could cause you to trip or fall, like area rugs, cords, or doorway thresholds. Try to keep your home as clear of clutter as possible and keep it well lit. Install sturdy railings on the stairways and grab bars in the tub or shower.
  • Invest in proper footwear. Always wear shoes that fit well and provide good support. Shoes should also have non-skid soles. Avoid high-heeled or slippery shoes and floppy slippers, as well as walking around the house in stocking feet.
  • Be ready in case of an emergency. If you live alone, have a plan ready should an emergency situation arise. You can either invest in an alert device or carry a cordless phone or cell phone on your person at all times. Check in with a friend or family member daily so they know to be alarmed if you miss your scheduled call.

Being afraid of falling shouldn’t allow you to miss out on life. By having a better understanding of how to prevent falls in the elderly, you can help reduce your risk and live life as accident-free as possible.