Friday, 24 November 2017

Aging with Confidence: Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors

A couple of weeks ago the Ontario government announced a new document and with it, their commitment, to helping seniors age well. Entitled Aging with Confidence: Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors the document outlines "Ontario's vision [to] help seniors remain independent, healthy and active, safe and socially connected." Using different sources of a data as well as a survey of seniors, the government has created a plan aimed at encompassing the changing needs of seniors as the population become more diverse and lives longer. There are several "guiding principles" at the report's core - Inclusion, Diversity, Choice and Self-Determination & Safety and Security.
With this goal, the province hopes to support seniors regardless of their age or stage, health or income, and physical needs.

An all-encompassing website for seniors has been created at Ontario.ca/AgingWell. It has information on health, transportation, housing, activities and financial assistance. While many of the initiatives are encouraging to consider (education, consumer protection, helping with technology, etc.) what is most interesting from my perspective, given the issues I hear about most, are those related to housing.... I do want to see more age-friendly communities, I do want to know that seniors will get more home support to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible, I want to read about more naturally occurring communities where there are many seniors and supports are sufficient, I want to know that there is more supportive housing for those on limited incomes, and I want to know about better long-term care - less wait times, more support, more staff, more innovation, more protections, more homes for those with cultural needs and more modern homes. Ultimately, I want to see the end to the big black hole in senior care - I want to be able to help people like the man who called me today who is on a limited income but needs a retirement home. I want to be able to tell him that our government has a solution for his situation.

The vision is a good one. The initiatives are encouraging. I hope getting to the reality is not too many years in the making. 

For more information on the Aging With Confidence document visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/aging-confidence-ontario-action-plan-seniors

Thursday, 9 November 2017

GUEST POST - The Importance of Staying Active in Your Golden Years

So you haven’t exactly found hitting the big 6-0 to be motivation for improved fitness. The good news is, there’s still time. If you haven’t been practicing healthy eating and living a healthy active lifestyle, you can still improve your health by starting now.

The science of aging works a bit against us in our golden years. As we age the correlation between our body fat and our lean body mass changes, and it isn’t for the better. So, instead of muscle working to raise our metabolism and burn fat, there’s far less muscle to do the job. This means as we age we must work hard to follow a low calorie diet, and harder at following an exercise plan to go with it.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, several population studies among the older generation (65+) found that following a healthy nutrition plan, along with a healthy lifestyle plan: 1) reduces the risk of cancer by one third, and 2) decreases the risk of cardiac events by as much as 45%.

In addition to decreasing physical health, the older population also faces significant mental health issues. The World Health Organization reports that 20% of world’s elderly population, 60 and over, suffers from a mental or neurological disorder. They further recommend “optimizing physical health” as one of the most important components of intervention.

It’s time to get motivated with these easy tip.

Strength Training. To build more muscle mass as you age, start with strength training. Stronger muscles make day-to-day activities much easier. A study by The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes found that, “muscle mass can be increased through training at an intensity corresponding to 60% to 85% of the individual maximum voluntary strength.”

If the idea of strength training at a gym is intimidating, consider creating your own home gym with a few select pieces of equipment. Read about proper form to avoid injury and find a free online weight training program that’s best for you and that can be done from the comfort of your own home. Remember: doing something is better than nothing, so allow yourself to ease into it and work your way up when you’re ready.

Get Moving. Like strength training, a good walk can increase muscle mass, but walking also has so many other benefits:

·        Weight control
·        Improve balance and coordination
·        Keeping joints flexible
·        Lowers your risk for heart disease
·        Improves your energy
·        Decreases depression and anxiety

Consider purchasing a Fitbit. The Fitbit, worn around your wrist most commonly, tracks your daily steps via a pedometer. Keeping yourself accountable for moving so much each day, and increasing your efforts, will motivate you to move more. Consider competing with a friend for most steps in a day. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day as a goal for improving health and lowering your chances of heart disease. As always, start with a small goal and work your way up.

Try Yoga. Numerous studies have shown that yoga has many health benefits, particularly in the 50-plus age group. Here’s a few of them:

·        AARP published a study suggesting that the slow, controlled breathing required for yoga leads to a decrease in hypertension and stress, and may lead to a decrease in medication use.
·        The American Osteopathic Association reports that yoga “creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration.”

Head to your local retailer, and purchase a yoga mat for as little as $15. These mats can be used for yoga, as well as for your home strength training.

Easy home exercises. Start working on easy home exercises that will help you build your strength and coordination.

Remember, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to numerous diseases of the mind and the body. Find fun ways to incorporate daily exercise into your life, and sooner than you know it, the ole 5-0 will feel more like the younger 3-0. 


Post Submitted by: Marie Villeza, Elderimpact.org

Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. So she developed ElderImpact to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.