Guest Post: Seniors & Super Foods

seniors and aging nutrition infographicThere are many super foods that can help you deal with stress and aging. Stress can crop up in the senior or elder years that you envision to be the most peaceful. Having the right foods in your diet can alleviate tension and stress, along with their negative effects.

Here are some nutrients you need in your stress-fighting plan:

Omega-3s

Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon is a great source of omega-3s, which keep stress hormones like cortisol under control. You should try to have two servings of wild salmon every week.

Flaxseed and Chia Seeds

These seeds give you a great plant source of omega-3 called Alpha-Linolenic (ALA) acid. However, the body can’t completely convert ALA into other omega-3s that are found in animal sources, so if you’re vegan it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about supplements.

Magnesium

This mineral helps to keep depression away, which is good because depression can be linked to other health problems.

Kale and Spinach

Dark leafy green vegetables are a great source of magnesium. Magnesium not only keeps depression away, but can reduce stress because it controls cortisol levels in the body.

Cocoa

A delicious source of magnesium is cocoa. It also contains antioxidants to lower your blood pressure numbers.

Fiber

Fiber isn’t just good for keeping you regular – it has benefits for your mood and mind.

Beans are a great source of fiber, but which is the best for your fiber needs? Navy beans contain approximately 19 grams a cup, while small white beans follow suit with approximately 18 grams. Other beans, such as kidney, pinto, black and lentils also contain good amounts of fiber.

B-Vitamins

Lacking B-vitamins can be harmful to nerves and brain cells, causing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Steel-Cut Oats

Oats are rich in Vitamin B6, which is known as a vitamin that fights stress, so it’s worth starting your day with it.

Avocado

Avocados contain high amounts of B-vitamins you need to keep you feeling calmer.

Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are comforting food, but they’re also loaded with nutrients, including B-vitamins.

Greek Yogurt

Since it contains pantothenic acid, or Vitamin B5, another B-nutrient that fights stress, Greek yogurt is a healthy snack to have handy when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Eggs

Biotin is a B-vitamin found in eggs and other foods. Deficiencies of it can lead to anxiety.

Zinc

You need this essential nutrient because it helps your body in many ways, such as by boosting your immune system, synthesising protein and maintaining neurological function.

Walnuts

It’s not just walnuts but all nuts that can give you zinc. Pop them in your daily yogurt or smoothie to reap their benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds

In season this time of year, these seeds are high in zinc while also keeping your blood sugar levels constant. This is important to ward off anxiety, shakiness and weakness that can occur if your sugar levels drop.

Vitamin C

An interesting study found that when people who had to undergo the stress of public speaking took Vitamin C in tablet form, their stress effects were lower than those who didn’t take the vitamin beforehand. Top up your Vitamin C intake with foods such as:

Acai Berries

These berries are a great source of Vitamin C, as well as other nutrients. They also have fatty acids that enable better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Pomegranate

Just 100 grams of pomegranate will give you almost 20 percent of your daily requirement. An added benefit of Vitamin C-enriched foods is that they help your body fight off infections that can suppress your immune system.

Blueberries

These berries are a rich source of Vitamin C, so they can neutralize toxic free radicals that cause damage to the body.

L-Theanine

This amino acid is found in tea. It can help you gain greater mental awareness while boosting feelings of calm.

Reach for a hot cup of tea when you feel stressed as studies show that it can help to relax the mind without causing drowsiness.

Oils to Ward Off Oxidative Stress

Although not regarded as the normal type of stress, oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between free radicals and the body not being able to fight them off with antioxidants, and this lack of harmony can lead to illnesses, possibly even hypertension.
Both coconut oil and olive oil have been found to reduce oxidative stress in various organs of the body, so they’re worth adding to your meals.

If managing a diet yourself seems overwhelming, consider the aid of a senior care professional So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach for the above calming superfoods and send stress packing.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 7.26.28 AMAbout the Author:

Originally born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Felicity Dryer was raised by her parents (more or less modern-day hippies) to always make her health a top priority. Throughout her life, she has focused on encouraging others to reach for and achieve their personal goals. Now she lives in sunny Los Angeles where she is pursuing her career as a freelance health writer, and continuing to help those seeking encouragement to keep moving forward to achieve their goals. In her free time, she enjoys hosting game nights with her friends, spending her warm days on the shores of California and enjoys watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Aging in American Conference Wrap-Up

Nancy MartensThis years’ Aging in America national annual conference held by the American Society on Aging was another stellar opportunity to connect with the nations’ top thinkers and advocates for aging Americans.

What happened?

Five days of general sessions that included topics:

  • Mysteries of Population Aging
  • Aging and  Disability: The Alliance of the Future
  • Transforming Retirement: Timing, Funding, Roles, Challenges/Opportunities and A New Purpose
  • Leadership for Global Population Aging

Distinguished speakers included industry thought  leaders such the Assistant Secretary for Aging, Kathy Greenlee and Dr. Laura Carstensen, from the Stanford University Center on Longevity, Author and CEO of Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald, and Dr. John Beard, Director, Department of Aging and Life Course, World Health Organization.

And…me, I had the privilege to present my topic, Wellness, Wealth, and Wills: A Comprehensive Approach to Serving Seniors.

Aging Trends

Professionals and organizations dedicated to serving and advocating for seniors gathered to share ideas and become inspired as we rev up to care for the growing ranks of long-lived men and women. We discussed how to develop solutions and new models of care for the lifestyles of our newest and fastest growing age bracket. Myriad perspectives were considered:

  1. health
  2. lifestyle
  3. global significance
  4. legacy, and the list goes on.

This was my second Aging in America conference and I have again returned home inspired, full of new ideas and renewed energy to serve out Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers across the continuum.

Heart Health & Aging

FEBRUARY IS AMERICAN HEART DISEASE MONTH

gored-400x0American Heart Disease Month means more than a quick blood pressure check, skipping bacon, and wearing red. Although I really like the wearing red part!

RECENT STUDIES

There is a ton of research that suggests you take steps to reduce cardiac risk factors during middle age, then you can stave off  heart disease for 14 years! Considering the risk of developing any type of cardiovascular disease in one’s lifetime is 60% for men and 55% for women, preventative effort is needed and beneficial. Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke, which can both result in death. Often at a very early age. Researcher J.T Wilkins, MD reports this and more in a wedMD article this month.

Despite high-tech innovations, medications & procedures, strict exercise and diet regimens that have been found to ‘fix’ symptoms of heart disease, we still see that moderation of diet and paying attention to a healthy life style pays off to prevent use of these modern ‘therapies and treatments’. Seems easy right? When you take your health into our own hands, you can influence that which we can control. Fact is, there is no changing your family history if one parent died of heart disease or stroke but you can mitigate the outcomes if you know and change your lifestyle accordingly.

Steps You Can Take Now

ABC-HeartPreventionWe CAN control our stress levels, the foods we consume and the approach we take to working exercise into our daily lives. Here are some activities you can do today:

  • Deep breathing is a natural way to reduce stress: take five slow, deep breathes- hard to feel anxious while focusing something completely natural, right?
  • Look into yoga- there is something for everyone.
  • Healthy food just tastes good- no denying fresh fruit trumps the canned, syrup-laden kind. America is in the midst of a healthy food movement- try it, you’ll like it.
  • Lots of attention to using a pedometer to track your steps lately too: a small investment to dial-in to your activity level and really understand the benefit, a simple bit of extra walking can add to your overall wellness. Before you know it, you will be parking farther away and taking the steps.

Give yourself some grace and understand making life changes like even the simple ones I have mentioned may be a challenge, especially at first. Also, know the rewards are worth having and lead to increased health you may never have known, which is a gift to you and your family.

We are living longer as a society because we are learning the steps we need to take to ensure a healthy life. By committing to living better now, you will continue to live well as you age.

Aging Concerns

Aging concernsFacing the fact that one is aging is a difficult pill to swallow for the most aware person. This can be even harder for those that are experiencing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Discussing elder care with your loved ones or family members can be very difficult.

Denial

One major elder care issue you may have to deal with is that your seniors not recognizing signs that indicate help is needed. This is especially true when you have begun noticing that your parents are dealing with safety concerns, and they are unwilling to acknowledge the problem. Getting them help is a delicate topic to bring up, because mentioning you are concerned about your parents’ safety can cause your parents to feel defensive and angry. Needing assistance is best brought up carefully. You should also be well-prepared with information so that you can point out your specific concerns, and offer recommendations for resolving these issues. Having an eldercare navigation plan can help with this conversation.

You’re still their Baby

ElderCompass can be an amazing resource for helping to explain safety concerns to your parents. Often it is much easier for a senior to accept this type of health information from someone who is not their child, than it is to listen to a child’s concerns. Regardless of how old you get, your parents will always see you as their baby, so it is difficult for them to balance this perception of you with the realization that you are trying to provide for their care and safety. Asking an experienced geriatric health professional to come into your parents’ home and evaluate it for safety can help show your parents the problems that are present, and may even show you issues about which you were not aware.

Safety Concerns

The most important thing to keep in mind, regardless of how resistant your parents are, when you are taking their elder care into your responsibility it is vital that you stand strong. Make decisions that are based on their ongoing safety and well-being rather than allowing them to keep things the way they are, simply because they are more comfortable that way. Help them to understand the changes that are going to be made in their home as beneficial to their health rather than simply random changes that you have made. The more they are involved in the process, the easier it should make them feel about the transition. It is important that you are clear and honest with your parents about the issues you have seen. These concerns may be the greatest, help them see through your eyes that the decisions you are making regarding their elder care is in their best interest.

Don’t hesitate. Trust your gut to know that you need to have this conversation and be sure to listen to your elder’s concerns with compassion and understand.