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Archive for January 24, 2013

Are You Healthier Than a 100-Year-Old?

Are You Healthier Than a 100-Year-Old?

There used to be this great game show on TV: “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth  Grader?”

The premise of the show was to determine whether or not the average adult  could answer questions based on a typical elementary school learning curriculum.  Contestants would attempt to correctly respond to ten questions.

Along the way, the presumably well-educated adult could solicit the help of  one of several pint-sized counterparts, dubbed, “classmates.”

As a television program, it provided viewers with a slew of hilarious  situations, and forced dozens of adults to admit that they were, “not smarter  than a fifth grader.”

In the two- and-a-half years that the show was on, only two people won the  top prize of $1,000,000—one of them being a former Nobel Prize winning  physicist.

What does all of this have to do with you?

Well, given the results of a recent, nationwide survey, quite a lot,  actually.

The survey took an in-depth look at the habits, preferences, and lifestyles  of 100 centenarians (people age 100 and older) and measured them against 300  baby boomers (aged 50-55) to pinpoint the differences and similarities between  each group.

Looking at the outcome of the seventh-annual “United HealthCare 100@100  Survey” report, may cause baby boomers to ask themselves a rather curious  question: “Am I healthier than a centenarian?”

To help you answer this question for yourself, try (honestly)  answering the following queries:

Do I consistently eat a balanced diet complete with plenty of fruits,  vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates?

The connection between sound nutritional choices and good health has been  scientifically proven countless times, but this message appears to have had more  of an impact on the most long-lived members of our society than on those we  consider to be ‘middle-aged.’ 80 percent of centenarians reported that they  maintain a healthy  diet almost daily, while only 68 percent of boomers were able to agree with  that same statement.

Do I get eight hours of sleep every night?

Catching  Zs for the recommended seven or eight hours each night has been linked to many  positive health outcomes such as: reduced levels of stress, better  cardiovascular health, and a decreased risk for depression. Yet only 38 percent  of boomers say they get the suggested  amount of sleep, compared to 70 percent of centenarians.

How often do you laugh?

If your answer is daily, then keep up the good work. The survey indicated  that, while boomers do laugh more, most of the members of the 100-year-old club  also reported appreciating  the lighter side of life. 87 percent of boomers said they chuckled at least  once a day versus 80 percent of centenarians.

Do you exercise regularly?

Though the majority of centenarians say that they exercise almost daily,  boomers do have them beat—but only by a slim margin (59 percent of boomers  versus 51 percent of centenarians). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  recommends that adults try to get a minimum of about 150 minutes of  moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. This amount is thought to be  sufficient to reap the numerous benefits attributed to regular physical  activity, including: reduced cancer and type 2 diabetes risk, better  cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and bones, and a longer lifespan.

What do you do for exercise?

Both age groups reported that physical health was the most important, yet  most difficult, aspect of health to maintain as a person gets older. How do the  oldest elders work out? Many cited walking (44 percent) and engaging in muscle  strengthening exercises (41 percent) as their go-to methods of staying in shape.  One curious finding in the realm of physical fitness was that more centenarians  than boomers said that they supplemented their work-out regimes with  mind/body/spirit activities such as Yoga, or Tai chi.

Do you regularly communicate with friends and family?

The same number (89 percent) of boomers and centenarians claimed that they  engage in regular communication and with their family and friends, lending  further credence to the connection between a strong social support group and  good health.

So, are you really healthier than a 100-year-old?

Handling healthy habit blockers

Time, energy, illness  and money are often the most commonly cited barriers to leading a healthy  lifestyle.

Interestingly, even though the elderly are sometimes viewed as being sicker,  more tired, and more financially strained than their younger counterparts, the  survey found that fewer centenarians than boomers said that their ailments or  purse strings got in the way of them leading a healthy lifestyle. Additionally,  only 15 percent of centenarians claimed that they were too tired to make good  choices on how to be healthier; a figure not too much larger than the 10 percent  of boomers who said the same thing.

Baby boomers are likely to face some significant obstacles when it comes to  maintaining their physical, mental and spiritual well-being as they get older,  particularly if they are members of the stressed-out Sandwich Generation. The  key is to look for ways to take advantage of the opportunities you do have.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com  Editor

AgingCare.com  connects family  caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing  options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted  resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed  decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

Stop Waiting: Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again

Stop Waiting: Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again
 

In this year, month, day, hour, second – in this exact moment of  being – your life is yours to live. Stop waiting. You don’t have to have  it all figured  out. I rarely do.  And some of the best sex, best meals,  best adventures, best  creative efforts, “best of everything of Pamela  Madsen” has been done on a wing  and a prayer. You don’t have to be  perfect. Ever. Forget labels. They don’t  matter.  I used to let labels  define me. Like up until yesterday.  Change can  happen that quickly.

Sometimes, you have to stop midstream, and go in another direction.  That’s  okay too. You don’t have to clean you plate ever! Unless you want  to.

Don’t play scared. Don’t play trapped. Don’t play what if. Don’t play  small  ever.  Be painfully vulnerable. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to want.  Show up with a full heart and roll the dice. At the very least  you know that  you are playing your life full out. Big is the new black.

So what’s holding you back? A little fear? Got it. Me to.  Reach for what you know is real. Let go of needing praise. Are you  living  your life for you or for somebody else? How hard are you working  on fitting  into the cage?

Guess what? You are worth more than that. How much of your life are  you  going to spend waiting to get permission to live? Stop it.

Now move it. Make it happen. I don’t know what it is for you. That  book,  that dance, that dream, that life. Stop dreaming. Create. Swing  the bat and  play hard. Remember you have this moment. Do it any way you  want to.

Do you hear the music yet? It’s playing just for you.

Live a life of hope and possibility. Let resistance go, you know what you really want.

Me too.

By Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is an Integrative Life Coach Specializing In Women’s  Issues: Sexuality, Fertility, Body Image, Wellness and Rejuvenation. Pamela is  also author of the best selling memoir Shameless (Rodale,  Jan 2011), and founder of The American Fertility Association.  Her websites BeingShameless.com and her daily blog, thefertilityadvocate.com, are  a breakfast essential for reporters, writers and  policymakers.

 

The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging

The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging

 

How do you define success?

Here are a few famous responses to this question:

  • “Success is going from  failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill
  • “Success is doing ordinary  things extraordinarily well.”—Jim Rohn

No matter the arena (personal, professional, financial), success is often  equated with achievement. A successful lawyer wins the majority of the cases she  takes on; a successful investment banker makes a lot of money for his firm.

Redefining the idea of effective aging

What happens when you apply the concept of success to something as complex  and individualized as  the aging process?

“There are several different definitions of successful aging,” says Dilip  Jeste, M.D., Director of the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging  and President of the American Psychiatric Association. “Traditional ‘objective’ definitions [of aging] have emphasized absence of physical and cognitive  disabilities.”

Jeste and his colleagues recently conducted a study that turns these “traditional” definitions upside down.

After surveying more than 1,000 older adults, researchers discovered that,  when it comes to aging, it’s not how fast you can run, or whether you can  complete the New York Times crossword puzzle that makes you a success—it’s your  attitude that really counts.

“The most surprising result we found was the paradox of aging—i.e., as  physical health declined with aging, self-rated successful aging scores seemed  to increase,” Jeste says. “Our findings showed that physical health was neither  necessary nor sufficient for feeling good about one’s own aging.”

In fact, many seniors who were grappling with physical or mental decline said  they felt that their overall wellbeing was increasing with each passing  year.

How to gracefully get older

Once you’ve discovered what it means to age “successfully,” the question  becomes: How do you do it?

Jeste’s recipe for effective aging includes three ingredients: resilience  (the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of hardship), optimism (being  able to recognize both the good and the bad in a given situation) and the  absence of depression.

He provides a few strategies for approaching the aging process in a  productive way:

Be logical: It’s important to strike a balance between  pessimism and unrealistic optimism,  says Jeste. For instance, if you have cancer, you won’t be able to cure yourself  simply by thinking happy thoughts. Instead, seek out the treatment options that  are right for you and remain confident that they will help you.

Seek support: A support network of friends and family is  essential for maintaining mental and emotional wellbeing, especially as you age.  Social support provides a stalwart shield against disease-causing stress of all  kinds.

Tame tension: Whether it’s taking a walk, practicing  yoga or reading a book, make sure to regularly engage in activities that you  find enjoyable. Taking a break from the pressure and strain of everyday life is  essential for building your resilience reserves.

Manage depression: About one in ten American adults suffer  from depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Women age 45-64  have a higher risk of developing the symptoms of depression, including:  excessive fatigue, irritability, feeling hopeless, loss of interest in hobbies  and suicidal tendencies. According to Jeste, recognizing and managing depression  in adults is vitally important to maintaining good mental and physical health as  you age. Consult with a doctor if you feel you or your loved one may be  depressed.

The idea that some elements of aging are controllable is a positive one for  Jeste, who is optimistic about the future of growing old in America.

“Over the next three decades, we will witness the largest increase in the  number of people over age 65 in the history of mankind,” he says. “Our study  suggests that an increasing number of these older adults can be productive and  contribute to our society in many ways.”

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com  Editor

AgingCare.com  connects family  caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing  options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted  resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed  decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

Physically Stressed?

Physically Stressed?

Letting go physically is a matter of stress release.  Under stress your body  tenses and contracts; breathing gets ragged and shallow; hormonal balances  switch from their normal levels to the hypervigilant state of fight of flight.   You cannot cope with all of this at once.  In the overall plan taking part in a  stress management program is a long-term commitment you should make, whether  through meditation, yoga, or countless other options.

Stress is ongoing; therefore reducing stress also needs to be ongoing.  In  the short run letting go of stress involves relaxing.  Take deep, measured  breaths, letting the breath go free on the exhale.  Lie down if you can and  allow release to take place for as long as it needs to.

Signs of good release are yawning, sighing, silent sobs, coughing, sneezing,  and feeling sleepy.  Let your body do any or all of these things.

Other means of physical release besides breathing include laughing,  screaming, shouting, taking a walk, swimming, taking a long bath, dancing, and  doing aerobics.

Shaking out the stress does in fact work, at least partially.  The intention  here is to let your body release what it wants to.  Your body doesn’t like  holding on to stress; it does so essentially at the urging of the mind.  Taking  your mind off the situation and letting your body release its excess energies is  a valuable step.

Under really extreme stress, walk away from the situation – tell anyone else  who is involved that you need to be alone for a while to get your bearings.   Offer reassurance that you will be back, and even if the other person puts  pressure on you to stay, give yourself permission to do what you need to do for  your own well-being.

Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press,  1997).

Deepak Chopra

Acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind body  medicine, Deepak Chopra, M.D. continues to transform our understanding of the  meaning of health. Chopra is known as a prolific author of over 49 books with 12  best sellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality, and peace. A  global force in the field of human empowerment, Dr. Chopra’s books have been  published in more than 35 languages with more than 20 million copies in  print.

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