September is Healthy Aging Month

Staying healthy is an important part of getting older. Please make sure you talk to your doctor before you make any changes in diet or exercise.

  1. I like to move it, move it

Get out there and exercise. Either by taking classes at the local gym or senior center, or even taking your dog out for a walk. Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body and brain.

  1. Talk it out

Be more social. Call an old friend, make a new friend, join a club, or even a support group. Everyone can use more friends, and this can help your mental health.

  1. Magical beans

Eating beans and other high-fiber foods are good for digestive and heart health. So, make sure you’re eating your fruits and veggies!

  1. Spice it up!

Vitamins and prescribed medications seem to be a staple of staying healthy while aging. As we get older we are prescribed different medications that can make our food taste bland. Add herbs and spices to your meals if medications dull your taste buds.

  1. Balancing act

Yoga is a great way to get exercise and improve balance. This could help prevent falls in the future.

  1. Take a hike

Get out and take a brisk walk all this month. This way you can possibly bolster both your heart and lungs.

  1. Nighty night

Did you know that sleep helps aid the repairing and healing of your heart and blood vessels? It is important to get a good night’s sleep because it’s benefits play an important role in your physical health. Talk to a sleep specialist if you don’t sleep soundly through the night.

  1. Beat the blues

About 6 million Americans 65 and older are affected by late-life depression, but only 10% actually receive treatment. Reason is likely because seniors display the symptoms of depression differently. This may be confused with effects of multiple illnesses and the medicines that are used to treat them.  If you’ve been down for a while, see a doctor. Depression can be treated.

  1. Remember to remember

To aid your memory you can make lists, organize, follow routines or schedules and slow down.

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The Benefits of Being Fit

Staying active can be hard, but can keep you feeling and looking your best at every stage of life. Being active can help prevent diabetes, heart disease, reduce pain associated with arthritis, and heart disease. By improving your endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength you are increasing your chances of staying healthier longer.

Please make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Aerobics

Even just starting with 5-minute aerobic sessions a few days a week to raise your heart rate can build your endurance. Doing this can burn off calories, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and maintain joint movement. Eventually you will be able to complete 30 minutes of activity. This could include walking and swimming. You might even be able to work your way to hiking, tennis, and running!

Walking

Do you know the reason why you should be trying to walk more often?

  • It is possible that walking can stop bone mass loss.
  • Walking can strengthen your muscles.
  • It may improve circulation.
  • Walking can burn calories which could lead to weight loss.
  • You may find that it improves your sleep.
  • Walking can make you happy!

Just 30 minutes a day is recommended for both seniors and people of all ages. Walk your way into a happier and healthier life. It is also possible that you could greatly reduce the need for a walker or other type of walking aid.

Group Fitness

Some places have group fitness classes that you can get involved in. These classes tend to be low impact, with some weight lifting and light aerobics. There are even some places that offer water aerobics classes when a pool is available. If you do not have classes available to you or nearby, you can always check online and find a video that suits your exercise needs. Here is a video I found for a low impact workout geared towards seniors.

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The Benefits of Having a Pet

There are many benefits to owning a pet as you get older. When you live alone you may become depressed or anxious. Pets can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase your physical activity and social interaction. One of the best parts about pets is that they can help lessen loneliness.

Some of the benefits of owning a pet are:

  • Companionship – For those who have lost spouses, live far away from family, or have become isolated due to health challenges, loneliness is prevalent. Having a pet can provide a daily companion who loves to see you every morning and evening and is with you throughout the day.
  • Purpose – Having a pet gives you a reason to get up in the morning when you are having a hard time getting out of bed. They rely on you to give them food, water, and exercise. This makes it fun for you to plan your day around your pet and support its routine, especially if you live alone.
  • Fitness – Taking care of a pet is an active job. I’m not saying running and jumping all over the place, but they keep you active. Getting up to feed them, letting them out, cleaning a cat box, and even taking them on walks.
  • Ice Breakers – Bumping into other pet owners gives you common ground. Making conversation about your pets is easy and can help with being more social. This also helps with loneliness.
  • Joy – Have you ever noticed how much a dog or cat video makes you smile? It is because they bring us joy. They are fun to watch play, goof around, be clumsy, and even sleep. Having one of your own that you can watch every day will bring a smile to your face knowing that you have a friend for life.
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Medicare and turning 65.

Almost 65? Find out what you should know about Medicare.

Fun fact: 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65 between now and 2030. Chances are you are one of them. You generally become eligible for Medicare at age 65 and delaying your enrollment can result in penalties. It’s best for you to learn more as soon as possible.

There are four major parts of Medicare.

  • Part A covers hospital stays
  • Part B covers physician fees
  • Part C also called Medicare Advantage and that is offered by private insurance companies and combines the benefits of Parts A and B and usually D
  • Part D covers prescription medications

Medicare Supplements (also known as Medigap) offer additional coverage to individuals enrolled in Parts A and B.

When am I eligible for Medicare? The Enrollment in Medicare begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your birthday month. You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B if you are currently receiving Social Security benefits the month you turn 65. If you are not currently receiving Social Security Benefits, you will need to sign up for Medicare by going to the Social Security website by clicking here or calling 800-772-1213.

What if I’m still working and have a group insurance plan? You might not need to sign up for Medicare Part B right away. Ask your employer whether the employer’s plan is the primary insurer. If Medicare ends up being the primary insurance instead of your employer’s insurance, you will still need to sign up for Part B to avoid a potential late enrollment penalty. If you are not going to sign up for Part B, you should still enroll in Part A. This may help pay for some of the costs that might not be covered by your group health plan.

During your initial enrollment period, it is extremely important that you sign up for Medicare Part B especially if you do not currently have an employer or group insurance plan. You can, however, delay Part B without penalty if you have other coverage. Please make note

If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B right away, you’ll likely be subject to a penalty. The premium will go up 10 percent for every 12-month period that you were eligible for part B and not enrolled, unless you were enrolled in other creditable coverage in that time. You must wait for the next general enrollment period to enroll, which runs between January 1 and March 31 of each year.

What are Medicare Supplements? Under Medicare you are still responsible for 20% of most costs, plus copayments and coinsurance for things like hospital stays. Most of what is not covered by Medicare can be covered by purchasing a Medicare Supplement insurance policy from a private insurer.  If this is something you are interested in you can search online for a Medigap policy in your area at Medicare.gov by . Or if you would like a free quote for a personalized plan in your area click here to visit our free Medigap Quote engine.

What is Medicare Advantage? Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is offered by private insurers. You must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to be able to join a Medicare Advantage plan. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan will provide all your Part A and Part B coverage, and most will also provide prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage could also possibly provide additional coverage, such as dental, hearing, vision, and/or health and wellness programs. These plans typically require you to get all your care through that plan and may have specific networks of doctors you must use or other limitations.

What is Part D?  Part D offers prescription drug coverage through plans offered by private insurers who are contracted with Medicare. If you’re enrolling in a Medicare Supplement or just keeping Original Medicare, you will likely want to enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan to cover your prescriptions. If you don’t enroll during your initial enrollment period and you don’t have other creditable coverage, you may be subject to a penalty for each month you were without coverage. Every month you delay enrollment past the initial enrollment period, your Medicare part D premium will increase at least 1 percent. If you had drug coverage through another source, like an employer or retiree group plan that is at least as good as Medicare’s, you may be exempt from these penalties. If you need a prescription drug plan you should visit the Medicare.gov website by clicking here.

Here are some other links that you might find helpful:

The Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare

The Medicare Rights Center

National Council on Aging – My Medicare Matters

Free Medigap Quote Engine

 

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Senior Technology Checklist

Here is a list of 5 technological items you should have and learn to use.

  1. Tablets and iPads

There are so many things that you can do with these items. Having a tablet can connect you to family pictures, reading books, listening to music, learning about new countries and languages! They are lightweight and have adjustable font size making it easier to read. There are also apps that can help track fitness along with games that promote brain fitness.

  1. Skype

Sometimes we get lonely, and Skype is a way to make sure we can stay connected with family and friends we might not be able to see every day. It’s available for smartphones, tablets, and regular computers. Real-time video communication with those we love is a snap thanks to Skype.

  1. Health Tracking Software

If you have a computer or mobile device, you should know how to set up a health tracker on your phone. There is a wealth of opportunity out there. Most of these apps have the ability to track your medications, your nutritional needs, keep track of your exercise and weight. These things can help you be more independent and take control of your wellness.

  1. GPS

As silly as it sounds, we tend to get more forgetful as we get older. This makes getting lost a strong possibility. Using an app on your smartphone or even using a GPS tracker that can attach to your wrist or clothing can greatly improve your chance of getting home safely in case you become forgetful or lost.

  1. Home assistive devices

The items listed here are things that will help you remain independent and safe. Besides the GPS there are other devices such as stove shut off systems, wireless home monitoring, LED lighting, medication dispensing applications, and photo-enhanced phone dialers. These can all help you with mild cognitive and motor impairment.

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Love Yourself, Love Your Heart

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Do not become a statistic.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether or not you are at risk for heart disease.

In addition to speaking with your doctor there are a few things you can do to show your heart you care.

  • Eat Healthy
    • Portion control, more fruits and veggies, less sugar and fats
  • Physical Activity
    • The American Heart Association recommends walking for 30 minutes a day
  • Weight Management
    • Eating better, working out/exercising
  • Stress Management
    • Get enough sleep, talk with friends and family, get organized
  • Quit Smoking
    • Try to kick the habit

Want more information? Visit the American Heart Association webpage for detailed information on leading a healthier lifestyle for you and your heart.

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6 Healthy Food Tips for Seniors

Here are 6 tips to help fit your dietary needs as you get older for both your body and your budget.

  1. Important Nutrients

Eating a variety of foods helps you get all the nutrients you need. Making your plate look as colorful as possible is always the best choice. Healthy meals should include:

  • Lean protein (lean meats, fish, egg whites, legumes)
  • Fruits and veggies (green, red, orange, and purple)
  • Whole grains (whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice)
  • Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)

Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium. Finding foods with extra Vitamin D is a great addition as it is an important mineral as we age.

  1. What does a healthy plate look like?

When we were younger it seemed all we saw about healthy eating was the food pyramid. Luckily for us, the USDA unveiled an easier way to help us see what we should be eating each day. This simple graphic below is called MyPlate. Follow this link to see your recommended serving. It shows us exactly how the five food groups should be laid out on our plates. Easy way to keep track of a healthy diet.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking small amounts of fluids throughout the day will help keep you from being dehydrated. Water is best, but if you must drink other items keep the salt and sugar at a minimum, unless your doctor has stated otherwise.

 

  1. Read the label

The best and healthiest foods are whole foods. (Meaning not processed or packaged.) If you must eat packaged foods, make sure to read the Nutrition Facts on the label. Stay away from the foods that are high in fats, sugar, and sodium.

 

  1. Recommended servings

As we get older we need to work on maintaining our weight and eating the right amount of food for our age and body. Lucky for us, the American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults aged 60+.

 

  1. Stretching your food budget

Have you ever heard of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP)? It is a program that helps those in need to afford healthy food for when they need it. There are over 4 million older Americans that use SNAP to buy food, and the average senior receives  $113 a month. Click BenefitsCheckUp.org/getSNAP to see if the program can help you.

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