Friday, 23 August 2019

GUEST POST - Common Misconceptions of Retirement


We all might have an idea in mind as to what retirement will look like, but for those of us with retirement on the horizon it can be beneficial to align that imagined vision with the reality.

This article will uncover the three of the biggest myths associated with retirement and reinforce some important truths to set you on the right course for your retirement needs and goals.


Myth #1: I’ll Save for ______ Before I Save for Retirement


There is always the potential for big expenses to arise over the course of your adult life. Whether it’s your dream home coming on the market, major renovations to your place of business, or helping to pay for your child’s college education, it can be very easy to say “let me cover this expense now and save for retirement later.” The danger of this strategy is that “later” might come too late.

Saving for retirement can be accomplished through the long-term saving of small amounts of money. This means that you can often afford to both spend and save, with those small increments adding up over time into a healthy retirement account. 


Myth #2: I Can Live on Less Money Once I Retire


This myth is a tough one because technically, you can get by on less money when you retire. That being said, there are several factors that might arise to keep your costs high, including:


Unexpected Healthcare Costs


Even with great retirement options to support you, a major medical emergency or chronic condition can still result in a major cut from your retirement savings.


Lingering Children


An ever-increasing number of adult children choosing to return home after college or during the early years of their professional lives to save money, but this can end up costing you.

From higher associated daily living costs to a larger mortgage payment for a house you had hoped to downsize out of but now must keep to accommodate your “youngsters,” it can wreak havoc on your retirement planning.


Inflation and Taxes


The pressures of the overall economy can also impact your savings. Inflation can increase the cost of living. Meanwhile, some tax rates, like property taxes, can fluctuate as well. This can be particularly true if the area where you live experiences a sudden boost in demand.


Expectations


Some might say that preparing to cover 70% to 80% of what you made before retirement will be adequate. Really, though, this number needs to be adjusted for your individual needs and plans for retirement.

Are you, for example, planning on working part-time in your retirement? Then perhaps you don’t need to save as much. However, if your plan is to adopt a lifestyle with less work but with more luxury that your pre-retirement days, than you will need to develop a savings to support it.

In short, there is no set amount to have on hand; it is unique to each person’s situation.


Myth #3: I Can Always Keep Working


Often people rationalize their lackluster retirement savings by saying: “well, if it’s not enough, I can always keep working.” In theory that might sound like a solution, but it fails in practice on several levels.

First, it has been shown that many retirees don’t work for as many years as they might plan to.

Second, you cannot count on extra years of work to provide you the finances that years of incremental saving would.

Retirement is supposed to be a time where you can relax and enjoy your golden years, so don’t let it become mired in myths that might derail that dream. Take the steps to plan your savings with these truths in mind, and you can be on your way to well-supported retirement.


Contributed by: Christian Worstell
__________________________________

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Friday, 9 August 2019

GUEST POST - Five Fantastic Ways to Stay on Top of Your Health and Take Better Care of Yourself


We all want to live our best lives, but with all that you juggle on a daily basis, it can be easy to lose track of your health. This article highlights five ways to take better control of your health through personal care.


1. Hydrate and Fuel


One of the best ways to stay on the road to good health is to make sure that you hydrate and eat healthy.

Hydration is essential because it can help your entire body recharge and refresh by flushing your system. A large glass of water can also help you feel fuller so you can deter yourself from taking in more calories than you need.

Speaking of calories, alongside a good hydration regimen is the need for a balanced, healthy diet. Try to work in a wide array of colorful vegetables, and keep your fiber level high to keep your body working at its best.


2. Exercise


Adding exercise to your lifestyle can also boost your health. This doesn’t mean a five-mile run every morning or hours-long exercise sessions at the gym.

In fact, studies have shown that short bursts of physical activity throughout the day can be just as beneficial. These brief intervals can also make for a great way to break up an otherwise sedentary day.

Think of these exercise breaks as a time to both raise your heart rate and elevate your spirits as you recharge and re-energize for the remainder of the day.

Just always make sure to keep track of your heart rate so that you don’t run the risk of over-exerting yourself.


3. Listen to Your Body & Look For Signs


While it’s not advisable to diagnose your own conditions, it is important to keep in mind that your body can tell you when something might be going wrong. Given this, you can benefit from listening to its cues.

It might not be the most pleasant, but checking your urine color can tell you whether you are adequately hydrating or if any other issue arises.

You can also check in with your hairbrush. Are there more hair strands trapped within its teeth than normal? Losing hair can be a symptom of mineral deficiencies and more, so it is a symptom for which you should look.


4. Check-In Regularly With Your Primary Care Physician


Just like we take our cars in for tune-ups, check-ups with your physician can ensure that you are staying healthy. The value of these periodic check-ins can be that they can catch any issues that are beginning to emerge. They also provide you with a consistent baseline for your health statistics, which can be beneficial if you begin to notice any concerning fluctuations of symptoms. Check with your insurance provider to see how many check-ups are covered. If you are eligible for Medicare, you may even qualify for an annual wellness exam.


5. Treat Yourself Well


So you’ve changed your diet, you’re drinking multiple glasses of water each day, and you’re keeping track of any signs your body might give that something is out of balance. What else can you do to stay in top form? This one is easy: take time for you.

Take time to de-stress, make sure you treat your body to an ample amount of sleep and don’t be afraid to splurge every once in a while. Whether that means a healthy chunk of dark chocolate after dinner or a weekly massage, treating yourself to these little moments of decadence can help you make healthy choices later on.

Life moves pretty fast, but the good news is that incorporating these healthy practices into your daily life can be immediate and easy.

Before your day gets away from you, commit to adopting some of these care practices to keep your health on track for a long and fruitful future.

Contributed by: Christian Worstell
_____________________________________________
Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.


Friday, 26 July 2019

GUEST POST - Staying Cool: Why Seniors are at a Higher Risk for Heatstroke and How to Prevent it


For most people, the summertime season means trips to the beach, pool parties, barbecues and long summer nights. For others, particularly older adults, summer can be a much tougher time.

As we grow older, regulating our body temperature becomes more difficult and we fail to adjust well to changes in temperature. The result is an increased risk for heatstroke among seniors.

Heatstroke is a type of heat injury that occurs when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is unable to regulate itself. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that can be fatal when not properly treated.

Below is some information about why seniors are more vulnerable to heatstroke and some steps that can be taken to prevent it.

Why Seniors Get Heatstroke

There are a few different reasons why an older adult may be more susceptible to heatstroke. 

Lack of sweating

Sweating is a heat-regulating mechanism, and if we’re not sweating, we’re not regulating heat. We don’t sweat as much in old age, which leaves seniors more prone to heat stress in the summer.

Dehydration

Dehydration hits older adults harder than younger individuals. And if your body is dehydrated, it can’t regulate your core temperature as effectively and heatstroke can set in.

Health Factors & Lifestyle Choices

There are also certain health factors and lifestyle choices that can increase the likelihood of developing heatstroke, and these factors are more common in adults over the age of 65. These include:

      Chronic illnesses like heart, lung and kidney diseases
      High blood pressure
      Medications that reduce sweating
      Low-sodium diets
      Overdressing
      Lack of access to air-conditioning
      Living or visiting hot climates
      Dehydration
      Poor blood circulation
      Obesity

Heat Stroke Warning Signs

It's important to know the warning signs of heatstroke in seniors so you can seek medical attention immediately.

Some early warning signs include:

       Fatigue
       Muscle cramps
       Excessive sweating
       Dizziness
       Headaches
       Muscle cramps
       Dry skin
       Flushed skin
       Rapid pulse

The early signs of heatstroke may lead to a more severe case, so it's important to take action as soon as you notice any signs. More serious symptoms include confusion, nausea, fainting, vomiting, seizures and even coma.

Preventing Heat Stroke

Perhaps the biggest problem with heat stroke is that many older adults may not even notice their body is overheating until they start feeling ill. The good news is that there are a few ways to reduce your chances of heat stroke.

       Pay close attention to your body if you’re out in the heat. If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately lie down in a cool place. Drink cold fluids, take a cool bath, or use cold towels to lower your body temperature.

       When you feel thirsty, your body's ability to regulate heat begins to lessen. Drinking plenty of water or beverages with electrolytes is an excellent way to help prevent dehydration and heatstroke, and be sure to avoid alcohol in the hot summer months.

       Wear loose clothes and don't overdress. When choosing what to wear in the summer, go with light and breathable clothes.

       Keep the house cool and on a regulated temperature or keep a fan running nearby.

Summer should be a season to enjoy, not one that puts you in danger. So take the proper steps and soak up that warm, summer sun in a healthy manner. 

Contributed by: Christian Worstell
________________________________________
Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.

Friday, 12 July 2019

How Do You Know When To Be Concerned?

As we age, our bodies and minds change. Our memory is not as good. Arthritis sets in and joint pain becomes common. We may have illnesses that are harder to fight. And the list goes on. But how do you know when to be concerned? How do you know when you might start needing extra help to be safe or should go to a doctor to make sure everything you are feeling is simply a normal part of aging? If you have elderly loved ones, how do you know when its time to intervene and discuss your concerns?
There are often tell-tale signs that you need to begin having a conversation or looking for resources to assist,  if you take the time to observe yourself/your environment or that of your elder loved one's.

1. Can the senior take care of themselves? Are they having any hygiene issues, do they seem unkempt suddenly? What about their home? Is it looked after and tidy? If not, has this changed recently? Check the fridge - are there expired bottles and food in the fridge? Are there burnt pots on the stove?Have you noticed a sudden weight loss or weight gain?

2. Are there recent, sudden or new memory issues that seem more than just a bit of normal forgetfulness? Do they get lost when leaving the house? How significant are the things they are forgetting?

3. Do you notice any safety issues in the home? If there are stairs, are they safe and steady to climb them? Have there been any unexplained recent falls or injury? Can they walk safely unassisted or if they have a walker or cane, do they use it consistently? Do they take medications safely and when they are supposed to? Do they drive a car and if so are they obeying traffic rules and are they safe driving?

4. Has anything changed about their mood? Are they still as social as they were or has this changed? Do they call you more or less frequently than in the past?

If any of these questions cause you to wonder if there may be an issue, start by discussing it with your loved one to see if they have similar concerns. Go to the family doctor and discuss the same with them - there may be simple answers to some of what you see - it could have to do with medications or an underlying illness. Of immediate concern would be safety issues so do what you can to address them and look into assistive devices or an assessment by an Occupational Therapist. You may want to look at eligibility for home care through your local government service or other types of services in the community through a local seniors agency (for example, meals on wheels, personal alarm systems, grocery delivery, friendly visiting... etc.). If concerns are significant, it may be time to start exploring local retirement or long-term care homes with your loved one. Do keep in mind that the earlier you address problems and concerns, the more choice you have and the more time you have to make adjustments to an in-home situation. As well, no decisions should be made without the cooperation and knowledge of the senior involved. Sometimes a senior doesn't realize they need help or doesn't want to admit it - bringing your concerns to them, may free them to start discussing options with you. There are many ways to discuss concerns with your loved one. For more information download our Free E-book The Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living and review Section 1 - Where do I Begin?

Friday, 28 June 2019

GUEST POST - How to Get Your Best Sleep in Your Senior Years


Aging brings with it a whole host of changes to your body and mind. You might even find yourself changing the way you do things in order to compensate for some of these shifts.  What many people don’t realize, however, is that you might need to do the same for your sleep habits. Sleeping can become more difficult as you age, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get a full night’s rest. There are a few different things you can do to get the best sleep possible in your senior years.

Listen to Your Body

As you age, you might notice that you begin to feel tired earlier in the evenings. Instead of comfortably staying up until 10PM, for example, you could find yourself nodding off around 8PM. Many people will fight these feelings and attempt to power through the evening on their own terms, but why fight your body? It’s telling you it is tired for a reason. Consider listening to it and adjusting your bedtime accordingly rather than attempting to deny the shift in your circadian rhythm.

Get Help for Insomnia

Insomnia is a particularly common issue to face as you age. The problem is that many people attempt to ignore the problem and move on with their lives rather than seek help. Because sleep is so vital to our physical and mental health, this course of action can be quite harmful. Instead of ignoring the issue, consider reaching out to a professional. This isn’t a “small issue” – it’s one that can impact your health significantly. If you find yourself unable to sleep, professional help could be the answer. Your doctor might be able to help you overcome the issue and return to peaceful nights full of rest.

Create an Environment Conducive to Sleep

Aging can be difficult on your body. You likely find that you have more aches and pains in the morning than you did when you were younger, but the pain at night might surprise you. There are many different health issues that can contribute to persistent pain, including things like osteoarthritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or simply strain on the important joints in your body. A mattress that is designed to help support you as you sleep could help by reducing stress on your body while you rest. You might also consider creating a quiet, cool bedroom that is dedicated to relaxation. Keep the TV and tablets out of the room and use the space for its intended purpose – sleeping.

Keep Exercising

Staying active might be the last thing you want to do if you’re not sleeping well. It’s important to note, however, that exercise can actually help regulate your sleep patterns and enable you to fall and stay asleep. You don’t have to engage in any particularly in-depth or strenuous workouts, either. Simply taking a walk a few times a week can be enough to help improve your sleep.

Sleeping as you age can be difficult, but it is not impossible.

Keep the information above in mind and work towards your sleep goals one tip at a time.

Contributed by: Lisa Smalls
 _________________________________________
Lisa Smalls is a freelance writer for NC that regularly covers sleep health and lifestyle topics. She is always looking for ways to better herself and has a passion for helping others create a balance in their lives.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Elder Abuse Awareness

Elder Abuse, like all kinds of abuse, is often unreported (and under reported), likely because in far too many instances it is perpetrated by someone close to the senior. "North American studies indicate that between 2 and 10 per cent of older adults will experience some type of elder abuse or neglect each year." http://www.elderabuseontario.com/what-is-elder-abuse/). With the number of seniors increasing annually, this figure is truly disheartening and clearly this abuse, like all abuse towards a vulnerable sector in our society, really needs to be publicized; as a society, we need to do everything possible to combat it and assist victims. 
Abuse towards an elder can take many forms and includes not just physical abuse but also, psychological, emotional, verbal, financial, sexual abuse and neglect. Family members and caregivers, closest to a person, are in an ideal position to take advantage of a senior and some, who may be experiencing caregiver burnout, may not even recognize that they are victimizing the person. There are also people external to family, that are in a position of trust, like paid caregivers or neighbours who also are in a position to be an abuser especially if a senior is vulnerable and does not have regular family or friends who visit and know what is going on in their lives on a regular basis. 
If you know someone who is elderly and is exhibiting signs of unexplained injury, fear, anxiety, depression, helplessness, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, missing money or missing valuables, it may be time to reach out to them in privacy to let them know your concerns and ascertain if what you are seeing may be a sign of elder abuse. Always investigate properly and refer to professionals before jumping to any unnecessary conclusions. Never assume Elder Abuse is happening without proof, especially if you are not overly familiar with the person and their situation; each situation is unique and cultural differences may explain certain behaviours. Don't jump to conclusions but also, keep an eye out for possible issues. Visit http://www.elderabuseontario.com/ to find out more signs and symptoms or call 416-916-6728. If you are a senior and need assistance, call the Seniors Safety Line at 1-866-299-1011.
Abuse is not acceptable in any form.  June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It's unfortunate that we need to be reminded that we all bear the responsibility of of helping someone who is being abused.

Friday, 31 May 2019

GUEST POST - 5 Ways to Improve Sleep for Seniors


There’s no getting around it. Sleep can be a struggle for seniors. Insomnia and snoring increase as do instances of dementia and the need for medications that may cause wakefulness. But seniors need the same seven to nine hours as other adults. Sleep problems can primarily be reduced with good sleep habits and a plan that addresses individual sleep issues.  

Incorporate Daily Exercise

A 2010 study found that aerobic exercise can help seniors fall asleep faster and reduce night wakings. While insomnia isn’t the only sleep issue seniors may be facing, any kind of exercise can help wear the body out while helping to maintain muscle tone and heart health.

Exercise doesn’t need to be vigorous or strenuous to bring sleep benefits. Yoga, swim aerobics, and walking are low impact forms of exercise that can be tailored to the needs of seniors. Activities that can be enjoyed with others also offer social opportunities. While thirty minutes per day is recommended, any exercise is always better than none.

Bright Light Therapy

Sunlight, and other forms of blue spectrum light, naturally suppress sleep hormones during the day. As light fades, sleep hormones get released. Aging eyes often don’t let in as much light as they once did. When the eyes cannot absorb as much sunlight as is necessary to regulate sleep hormones, sleep irregularities like daytime sleepiness and nighttime insomnia may follow.

Increasing daytime exposure to blue spectrum light can help put the sleep cycle back on track. Seniors who participate in bright light therapy spend a few minutes each morning in front of a lamp with a specially designed light blub that mimics sunlight. The increased exposure to blue spectrum light supports the body’s natural rhythms and can improve the regularity of the sleep cycle.

Try Meditation

Stress can be a major sleep loss factor at any age. Seniors may face the loss of a spouse, financial changes, and/or moving out of a beloved home. The stress of life changes can compound sleep problems. Meditation is a simple, time effective way to manage stress.

Meditation has been shown to strengthen connections between the brain’s emotional and logical centers to aid emotional control. With practice, it can also reduce heart rate and improve blood pressure both of which can reduce stress and improve sleep. Seniors can participate in classes with a live instructor or meditation CDs or apps. Even 10  to 15 minutes per day can be enough to reduce stress levels.

Create a Bedroom of Comfort

Comfort can be an issue for seniors as aches and pains tend to increase with age. A heating pad, over the counter pain medication, and a glass of water on a nightstand provide easy access to nighttime pain relief.

A supportive mattress that’s the right firmness level for height and weight can make a big difference. Adjustable beds are other good option as they allow seniors to make adjustments for injuries and can be easier to get out of. Environmental conditions like cool to moderate bedroom temperatures, complete darkness, and absolute quiet make a difference too. Motion sensor nightlights are often a good idea as they allow seniors to see during nighttime trips to the bathroom, yet the light won’t keep them awake.

Set a Reasonable, Regular Bedtime

The human body, no matter the age, relies on consistency and behavioral patterns to correctly time the release of sleep hormones. A regular bedtime and calming bedtime routine are key to a consistent sleep pattern. The familiarity of routine also helps with dementia and other neurological issues that may come with age as they may reduce fear and irritability related to sundowning.

Conclusion

Seniors need just as much sleep as other adults. They face unique challenges, but a plan and support from family, friends, and health professionals can help.

Contributed by Amy Highland, SleepHelp.org

_______________
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.