State University of New York at Oswego

A Reunion Five Decades in the Making

by Sarah Saxton

50 years ago four marines visited a beach in Florida just after basic training and took this classic picture. They had not seen each other since they were deployed for Vietnam, but recently decided that they would like to meet again to relive old times. The same four friends, on the same beach, took the same photo. The man on the left even admitted that he visited six stores in order to find the perfect striped shirt in order to match the original photo.

What You’ll Look Like in 50 Years . . .

by Sarah Saxton

Many people have wondered what they will look like as they age. I personally hope that I age like Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Anniston. They look the same as they did when they were 20! But, now you no longer need to worry about this: there is a new high-tech mirror that can show you what to expect. The mirror makes assumptions based on your current behaviors, vitals, and bone/muscle structure in order to determine what you will look like after you age.

The concept behind the mirror is that the behaviors you exhibit today will formulate the way your body appears in the future. The creators of this mirror hope that it can be used as a tool to educate people on how their choices impact their future. They believe that people often believe that the poor aesthetic side effects of their choices will not happen to them. However, if they are put face-to-face with it, no pun intended, they may be more apt to make healthy behavior changes.

The Red Hot Mamas

This energetic group of 17 showgirls that are taking Long Island by storm! The twist on this performing troupe is that their ages range from 53 to 81 years old! They perform Rockette-styled dance routines all over Long Island.

Sandi Bloomberg, a former Rockette, founded the group in 1990. Most of their performances are for charities, senior centers, nursing homes, and festivals. They are a big a deal, as shown by their appearance on the CBS special Live to Dance.

The members and artistic directors of the group are very pleased with the success and progress of the Red Hot Mamas. It just goes to show that you can try new things and live your dreams at any age!

Consider an ACTIVE Vacation

by Sarah Saxton

Most people go on vacation with the intention of relaxing, but this does not mean you have to be sedentary. There are many active vacation destinations that will help you to feel just as relaxed as you could be laying out on the beach.

Typically, vacations consist of hanging around and loading up on calories while drinking sugary beverages. But why come back from vacation feeling worse than when you left? An active vacation will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed.

There is something for everyone, whether you are an outdoorsy person, a gym rat or someone seeking a mind-body connection. Below are some examples of places to take a fit and active vacation!

  1. For the outdoors adventurer – Mountain Trek at Alpine Lodge: a beautiful hiking vacation in British Columbia.
  2. For the gym rat – Canyon Ranch: a gorgeous escape in Tucson, Arizona to kick off your triathlon training.
  3. For the individual seeking a mind-body connection – Four Seasons Westlake: a California retreat with fitness sessions, health cooking demonstrations, stress management and nutrition workshops.

Poet James Baldwin on earning death

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”

― from The Fire Next Time

Online therapy

by Daegan Keyes

People see therapists for a variety of reasons. Some have diagnosed mental illnesses, while others are struggling with grief or temporary anxiety. Unfortunately, in-person counseling can be expensive, and many seniors have limited mobility. Some are unable to drive to see a therapist in a traditional setting. Online therapy allows people of all ages and abilities to access professional help with the stress in their lives.  E-counseling (“e” as in “electronic” or online) is a new, affordable way to seek help, and research suggests that it is as effective as in-person sessions.

Here are a few of the many online therapy options:

Talktala.com offers online counseling at reasonable prices: $9 for the first online chat session, and $29 for a one-on-one video session with a therapist. There are also message boards on Talktala, which allow clients to talk to one another and a variety of therapists.

Breakthrough.com allows clients to use their insurance to pay for online therapy sessions.  Most major insurance plans are accepted. Users can video chat with counselors for advice.

Betterhelp.com is a subscription service that charges $35 or more per week. Clients can send unlimited messages to their counselors, and have a free phone session once per month. Other phone sessions are available for an extra fee.

Because of advances in technology, counseling is more accessible than ever, and more people can look forward to relief from their troubles.

Elder Abuse

by Daegan Keyes

While most people treat their senior family members with respect and love, awareness of elder abuse has been increasing in recent years. The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) defines elder abuse as “any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person.” Learning the warning signs of abuse can help you protect both yourself and others.

The NCPEA states that there are six categories of elder abuse:

*physical abuse
* sexual abuse
*domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence)
*psychological abuse
*financial abuse
*neglect

All of these forms of abuse pose a serious threat to victims, and it is estimated that 4% to 6% of elders are abused.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living provides a list of warning signs that someone is being victimized, which includes:

*The presence of bruises, broken bones, cuts, or burns
*Withdrawal from usual activities
*Depression
*Unattended medical needs
*Frequent arguments with caregivers

Luckily, there are resources for those who are being abused, or suspect that a loved one is being abused. In New York State, there are specific hotlines to report suspected abuse:

*In-home: 1-800-342-3009 (option 6)
*Nursing homes: 1-888-201-4563
*Assisted living facilities: 1-866-893-6772

If you or someone you know is being abused, remember that you are not alone. Law enforcement and social services are there to help in times of crisis.

More information at PreventElderAbuse.org
and at the US Dept of Health & Human Service Administration on Aging.

How much technology do you use?

Most older adults are behind the advancements in technology due to the fact they or may have little interest, have inadequate financial resources to purchase various forms of technology, or lack the desire learn about new technology. The internet plays a central role in connecting Americans of all ages to news and information, government services, health resources, and opportunities for social support. In April 2012 the Pew Research Center found that those 65 or older were internet users. 59% of seniors report they go online and  77% of older adults have a cell phone. In contrast 41% do not use the internet at all, and 23% do not use cell phones. Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week.

The internet however is not the only technology available. Smartphones, tablets, and  e-book readers devices are becoming increasingly popular. The proportion of older adults who own either a tablet or an e-book reader is actually larger than the proportion owning a smartphone. Some 27% of seniors own a tablet, an e-book reader, or both, while 18% own a smartphone.

Moving on to social networks 19% of  older adults today use social networking sites such as Facebook.

Although the reports show a steady incline of  use of various technologies, there are some barriers older adults face when using  modern technology including physical challenges or health issues. Another barrier is skeptical attitudes about the benefits of technology. Older adults who do not currently use the internet are divided on the question of whether that lack of access hurts them or not. 49% of non-users  agree with the statement that “people lacking internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,”. But 35% of these older non-internet users disagree that they are missing out on important information. The most common barrier to technology is the difficulty of learning how to use various technical platforms.  Just 18% of older adults would feel comfortable learning to use a new technology device such as a smartphone or tablet on their own, while 77% indicate they would need someone to help walk them through the process. As well as 56% of older adults say they would need assistance with sites that connect them to friends and family such as Facebook or email.

 

Do you own a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader? Do you have access to a computer with internet?  How important is it to stay on top of new technology? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

 

For the full report from the Pew Research center click here.

 

By Julia Conlan

Dancing your way to better Health!

Zumba isn’t just for the young and fit. It’s a great way for older adults to get in shape too. Zumba mixes low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. The music incorporates Latin and World rhythms. Zumba is a total workout, combining all elements of fitness – cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility, boosted energy and a serious dose of awesome each time you leave class. Zumba debuted in 1999 as a series of infomercials and quickly spread into a full-fledged craze with classes offered in health clubs across the country. Classes last from 30 to 60 minutes and include a medley of dance styles, such as merengue, cha-cha, cumbia, belly dance, rumba, tango and salsa.

The creators of Zumba recently introduced Zumba Gold, a new version of the Latin-inspired workout, tailored to the needs of elders. Zumba Gold, incorporates dance/fitness routines to Latin and international rhythms but is performed at a lower intensity. Trained Zumba fitness instructors teach at venues including fitness clubs, community centers, YMCAs, rehabilitation centers, and retirement communities.

According to the Zumba website, Zumba Gold focuses on balance, range of motion and coordination. The class focuses on cardiovascular, muscular conditioning, flexibility, range of motion and balance. Not only does Zumba improve the body physically but participating in a local Zumba class increases social interaction with other Zumba Gold dancers. Going to class will create a routine that you will want to go to because Zumba is exercise in disguise.

CEO of Zumba fitness Alberto Perlman says “The baby boomers are the original party animals, having coined some of the most popular dances including the twist and the jitterbug, so it’s no surprise they are attracted to the program”. Zumba doesn’t feel like a workout but a fun and active dance event. Zumba participants don’t have to count reps or move up in resistance levels. It is all about getting up off the couch and moving!

 Click here to see a preview of a Zumba Gold Class.

Click here to find a class near you or the type of Zumba class you want to take.   

 

By Julia Conlan

Older Adults and Pet Companionship

Pets not only provide companionship, they can boost health in other ways, such as emotional support and increased physical activity. However, older people face many hurdles to pet ownership: they may be worried about the cost, and whether they are physically fit enough to take care of and feed a pet. They may also worry about what might happen to their beloved companion should they become ill or die. Researchers suggest that health professionals and shelter professionals should work together and encourage pet adoption and even “prescribe” the right pet for older adults. This kind of teamwork  and communication may increase the chances for older adults to become pet owners, especially to those who perceive their chronic conditions as a hurdle.

In order to find the perfect dog seniors should go to their local SPCA. the Humane Society or other animal shelter. The staff there can can help you find what dog is just right for YOU, in terms of size, temperament, or breed. Express your desires or concerns over a new pet and let them help you. You may need to come back a few times. Shelters have a constant turnover and get new dogs in regularly.

Caring for a pet can provide older adults with companionship, easing the feelings of stress or loneliness. Pets can provide a routine. The routine of caring for a pet can give structure and purpose to daily life. Having a dog can provide a way to make walking a regular part of your permanent daily plans. Taking your pet to the park, the vet, or on regular errands will get older adults out of the house and into more social situations. 

If you are considering a pet and need financial assistance be sure to check out The Pets for the Elderly Foundation. The Pets for the Elderly Foundation helps pay the fees to participating animal shelters throughout the United States for senior citizens (age 60 and over) who adopt a companion dog or cat from a participating shelter – including pre-adoption veterinary exams and spay/neuter, if part of the adoption fee.

Or check out PALS (Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors) from Meals and Wheels and More. PALS provides assistance with food and basic preventative veterinary care for the pets of home bound clients.

 

By Julia Conlan