Work to Live or Live to Work?

According to new data from the US Census Bureau, more and more Americans are working past the age of 65. This data follows a trend that started in the past few years–roughly 16.2 percent of those 65 and older were in the labor force in 2011 compared to only 12 percent in 1990.

So why are people continuing to work past the accepted age of retirement? The accepted wisdom has been that seniors are holding off from retirement due to the Great Recession and resulting falling home values, savings, and incomes.

However, a new analysis, conducted by Barry Bosworth of the Brookings Institution, points to a different explanation. Bosworth, a respected economist, believes older Americans are continuing to work by choice—not necessity. Through a comprehensive analysis of senior income since 1990, Bosworth observed that over the past 20 years or so the fraction of seniors’ income from private pension funds, government support, and social security payments has remained roughly the same. The same holds true for percentage of income from labor and investment funds.

Another strong piece of evidence for the “enjoying work” hypothesis: the top 20%, who have seen their earned income jump more than anyone else, are much more likely to work past the age of 65 than those in a lower income bracket.

At Home Care Assistance San Francisco, we adopt a holistic approach to care.  Our San Francisco caregivers follow our proprietary Balanced Care Method, an approach based on scientific studies of lifestyle factors linked to longevity. One of the tenets of the method is maintaining a sense of purpose—for some people this may mean continuing to work as long as possible.

San Francisco home care clients and seniors, what do you think the reason is that people are working longer?

7 Dietary Guidelines to Support Brain Health

After indulging for Thanksgiving and with the holiday season in full swing, there’s no better time than now to adopt healthy nutrition habits. San Francisco Home Care Assistance shares some dietary tips to promote brain health:

  • Not all fruit is created equally. For brain health, the best fruits are those with a low glycemic index and a high amount of fiber. Limit pineapple and watermelon, which have high glycemic indexes. Indulge with blueberries, apples, oranges, cherries, kiwi, strawberries and raspberries.
  • Taste the rainbow. Not the skittle variety. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables of a variety of different colors to gain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • There is such a thing as “good fat”. You need some fat in your diet; studies suggest that if cholesterol drops too low, risk for depression increases and eating a bit of fat with your vitamins promotes optimal absorption. “Good fats” include foods rich in omega-3s such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, fish, avocados and green leafy vegetables.
  • Spice up your life. Spices and herbs can do more for you than add flavor to your meals. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar. Garlic, oregano and rosemary increase blood circulation (and thus oxygen and nutrients) to the brain. Curry has anti-inflammatory properties and saffron can help fight depression. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been found to reduce inflammation and the build-up of amyloid plaque in the brain.
  • Chuck the juices. Juice contains all the sugar of fruit without the fiber. Stick to water and tea. If you’re craving the sweetness of juice, use natural sweeteners like agave or honey in your tea.
  • Breakfast is important. Instead of those cinnamon buns or skipping breakfast altogether, make eating a protein-heavy breakfast, such as boiled eggs and some apple slices with peanut butter, a priority—it will help you focus and give you a morning boost to power you through the day.
  • Limit meat consumption. Stick to lean meats like chicken, turkey and tenderloin cuts. If you do choose to eat red meat like steak, stick with the grass-fed, hormone-free, free-range variety—feeding animals with low-glycemic foods promotes production of good fat.

If you or a loved one needs help preparing healthy meals as part of in-home care needs, contact a San Francisco home care agency today. At Home Care Assistance, we provide professional San Francisco caregivers trained in healthy meal preparation—we also provide them with our Comfort Foods Cookbook: A Healthy Twist on Classic Favorites!

San Francisco Home Care: High Anxiety on the Rise

The San Francisco home care industry has been plagued by two distinct types of diseases prominent in the elderly: Alzheimer’s and depression. Up until recently, most people felt that anxiety disorders declined as people aged, but just the opposite is true. Anxiety in older adults returns when stresses and vulnerabilities unique to the aging process become evident: chronic physical problems, cognitive impairment and significant emotional losses.

Anxiety disorders in the elderly have been underestimated and not diagnosed for several reasons. One reason for this is that older patients are less likely to report mental illness symptoms and more likely to emphasize their physical complaints, which is common. That’s why it’s important for the adult loved ones or caregivers in their lives to pay close attention to see if any symptoms are present.

The following links take you to some excellent articles on anxiety and the elderly that offer great information, insight and advice that should prove helpful. The first one is called “Anxiety Often Missed in Elderly“, followed by “Anxiety Disorders in the Elderly”. Another great one is titled “Elderly Anxiety and Depression” and my last recommendation is titled “Elderly Parents Behavior- Dealing With Anxiety“.

San Francisco Senior Care Industry Sees Positive Results from Video Games

Throughout the San Francisco senior care industry people are constantly looking for new ways to enhance their patients’ quality of life.  Little did we all know that something the younger generation has an affinity for, video games, could be of great help in senior care.

They keep the mind sharp
Studies have shown that when we learn to play new games, new synapses form between the neurons in our brains. These new connections can then be applied to other tasks as well. Research also shows that concentrating on video games can even help train our brains to focus better.

They can provide good exercise
Game consoles like the Nintendo Wii, the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect have motion detectors that allow players to engage their bodies while playing video games. Many nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are even using active video games for patients’ physical therapy routines to help them stay active and regain coordination.

Healthy competition builds self-esteem
Many seniors may find great social and emotional value in video games. Video games provide a way for seniors to set goals for themselves and can bring about a great sense of accomplishment when they achieve them. This can help lift spirits and boost self-esteem.

When is it Time for Home Care?

San Francisco at home care has served as a strong option to help our loved ones as they age, but how do we know when it is time to consider home care? Tell-tale signs include recognizing that your loved one requires constant supervision and/or assistance with everyday activities, such as bathing and dressing. You may also find that certain housekeeping routines are accomplished with great difficulty or left undone.

In general, consider the following areas:

  • Mobility Issues – Difficulty walking, unsteady when standing, falling down, stumbling.
  • Disinterest in Personal Health – Changes in eating or cooking habits, spoiled or outdated food in the refrigerator, lack of nutritious food in the pantry or freezer.
  • Disinterest in Personal Hygiene -Wearing the same clothes, wearing soiled or unkempt clothing, lack of bathing or oral care, unkempt hair or nails.
    Changes in Personal Habits – Loss of interest in hobbies, reluctance to socialize, unopened mail or unpaid bills, changes in housekeeping methods, lack of home or car maintenance.
  • Loss of Mental Acuity – Memory loss, confusion, difficulty in concentration, or poor judgment, forgets medication or has become confused about dosage, unusual purchases of goods or services, mood or other personality changes, increase or decrease in sleep, fatigue.

 

If you feel your elderly loved one falls into one of the categories above, there are many different senior care options your family can look into. You can contact a local Geriatric Care Manager to help assess your family’s needs and determine which option may be the best for you and your loved one. Some options include:

  • Adult day care – A daily program, usually Mon-Fri from 9a-5p, that offers participants the opportunity to socialize, enjoy peer support and receive health and social services in a safe, familiar environment.
  • Senior/Retirement communities – An independent living option featuring apartments or single family homes in small community setting, for seniors who need little if any help with their daily activities.
  • Assisted living facilities – A residential option for seniors who want or need help with some of the activities of daily living—things like cooking meals, keeping house, and bathing.
  • Home care – Non-medical home care services include companionship, light housekeeping, cooking and many other household activities and chores provided in the comfort of the senior’s own home. San Francisco Home Care Assistance provides highly trained caregiver’s for your loved one in their home on an hourly or live-in basis.

 

With this knowledge, think about your loved ones’ health and wellness and discuss options early.

Help Your Hearing

Throughout the San Francisco senior care industry the fear of hearing loss has resulted in many obstacles for caregivers to overcome.  If you or a loved one has hearing problems, hearing aids can be a great and life-changing device.  Before you talk to a specialist, here are some tips to help you make a well-informed decision.

1. Bring someone you trust. Bringing someone you trust with you to the doctor can help you make a sound decision. This is someone with whom you can mull over the options.

2. Find the right provider. Finding the right audiologist to help you make an informed decision is key when choosing the correct hearing instrument.   You should research the potential providers and review their background and references.

3. Don’t wait too long. Many people wait far too long to see a specialist, letting their hearing unnecessarily deteriorate.

4. Give it some thought. Before you consult an audiologist you should consider your hearing priorities. Do you most often listen to the television or are you more likely to want to hear a conversation in a loud room?  Your priorities will determine which technology and products will work best for you.

5. Have your hearing tested. You should have your hearing tested in a soundproof booth during your visit.  This way the hearing aid can be adjusted specifically to your needs.

6. Consider add-ons.  Though there are a number of nifty add-ons that can help individual’s in different hearing situations, don’t feel pressured into buying any. That said, they can be beneficial, depending on your budget and your needs.

7. Try before you buy. If possible, take the hearing aid out for a test drive.  The audiologist might be able to simulate sound situations so you can see if you like the device.   These sound simulations are important, so take your time when testing out the hearing devices.  Once you buy the device, don’t leave until it is properly adjusted and working correctly.

8. Hold onto the receipt.  Make sure you have in writing exactly what you’re buying and that you understand the warranty.  Many devices will have trial periods, so if it’s not working correctly you can get a new one.  Also make sure that you have frequent follow-ups with your doctor, especially in the first few months.

Is Willpower Limitless?

Many of the diseases and conditions that we provide services for here at Home Care Assistance have to do with behavior – whether it’s caring for a dementia patient who has behavioral issues or regulating a diabetic’s diet, behavior plays a enormous part in the day to day lives of those who receive San Francisco senior care.

Although our caregiver’s support is helpful, a study right in the Bay Area at Stanford University suggests that the patient may have more of an ability to regulate their own behavior than we think.

The study, based in Palo Alto, is based on the premise that people are generally placed into two groups in terms of their perception of willpower, wherein one group believes willpower is ‘unlimited’ and the other sees it as ‘limited.’ Researchers at Stanford University determined which group their test subjects fell under using a questionnaire, and then randomly split them up into two groups. Those who saw willpower as unlimited were more accurate on the test than those who were less optimistic.

The idea that willpower is limitless is very powerful. Heather Schwartz, a medical nutrition therapist at Stanford Hospital & Clinic sees the findings as beneficial to her patients’ health in the long-run. “If a patient finds sticking to their goals difficult,” Schwartz said, “I can now tell them that the willpower is there — and that they just have to ‘access it.’

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Increases as we Age

Don’t confuse age-related macular degeneration with the loss of sight associated with the normal aging process. In fact, according to an article published on aarp.com, they are quite different.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects 10 million people in the United States, with 1.75 million experiencing significant vision loss. See how San Francisco Home Care Assistance helps seniors with specialty needs.

By 2020, approximately 20 million Americans will be affected by AMD, with nearly a million residing in California.  While there are currently no preventative treatments, there may be something not so out o the ordinary that we can do to combat this disease: eat more fish. Studies show that eating fish two or more times per week can help reduce the risk of AMD.  We are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, a place where fresh fish is both plentiful and easily accessible.  Not only is it easy and healthy to add a little extra fish to your diet, it could help prevent AMD.

For those currently dealing with AMD there is still hope that you can live a normal life despite your reduced vision. “You can work with it and make it a positive thing, or it can devastate you. You make these choices in life. What am I going to do about it? Is it going to define me, or am I going to help define it?”

 

Retirement Planning into Your Senior Years

Residents eligible for San Francisco home care have been planning for retirement for some time, but will they be able to afford it? With the economy still in recovery, many boomers have been forced to put their future plans on hold. According to a recent poll, only 9% of the boomer generation say they expect to live comfortably in retirement.
As one boomer stated, “I was hoping I’d be moving to a beach somewhere, anywhere…but I’m not moving. I can’t. It’s hard to remain optimistic.” Somewhat surprising was that 73% of those polled said they would continue to work through their retirement.

The economy has hit the baby boomer generation, who compose 23% of California’s population, the hardest. Homes in places like Palo Alto were meant to be investments but uncertain times have changed this idea drastically. Housing prices have gone down dramatically in many areas which has meant that boomers who were looking to sell their homes and make money back on their investment, are now forced to hold onto their property until the housing market rebounds.

It’s incredible that close to 75% of those over 45 believe that they will continue working well into retirement. Hopefully this statistic will continue to decrease as the stock market continues to climb and economy continues to rebound.

Ten Everyday Activities for Seniors to Help Boost Your Memory

Changes in thinking processes and memory are inevitable as we age. According to the 2011 Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Report, someone in the U.S. Develops Alzheimer’s disease every 70 seconds. San Francisco Home Care states that in California, 500,000 individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s and 75,000 of these individuals reside in Northern California. The good news is that simple lifestyle activities on a physical and mental level can delay the onset of dementia and help to keep the mind sharp as a tack!

Here are 10 ways to boost your memory power. You will notice that many of these activities are probably already incorporated into your daily routine:

1. Take the stairs – Exercise benefits your brain as well as the rest of your body. Increasing blood flow to the brain results in less brain shrinkage and decreases one’s the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Remember, one step at a time – it all adds up. Avoid elevators, park at the far end of the parking lot or take an evening walk around your block.
2. Take a nap during the day – Memory storage happens while you sleep, which is why a good night’s sleep is so valuable. A six-minute nap is as valuable for short-term recall as a 90-minute nap is for speeding up the process that helps the brain consolidate long-term memories.
3. Play a ‘brain’ game – A study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society shows that those over the age of 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour a day, over a period of eight weeks, improved memory and attention span more than the control group. Open up the San Francisco Chronicle and fill out a crossword puzzle or Sudoku board, both will help aid cognitive functioning.
4. A Cup of Joe – Green and black teas help with memory and increased concentration. People who drink moderate amounts of coffee, as many as three to five cups, have lower odds of developing dementia later life.
5. Eat your greens – People who are deficient in folate and vitamin B12 have an increased risk of developing dementia. In Northern California, we are lucky to be so close to local, sustainable vegetable sources where we can purchase romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and beets. All of which contain folate. Don’t like vegetables? Folate can also be found in lentils, calf’s liver and black beans. Home Care Assistance offers a great health-oriented program for clients that caregivers are trained in called the Balanced Care Method.
6. Learn something new – Pursue a new type of activity using skills far different from those you are accustomed to using. Learn a new language or try a sculpting class!
7. Eat chocolate! – In 2007, a study by the Journal of Neuroscience reported on the memory-boosting effects in rats from a plant compound called epicatechin. In addition to cocoa, epicatechin is found in blueberries, grapes and tea.
8. Put everything in its place – Your memory functions best with a certain amount of familiarity. Place your keys and glasses in the same place every time. Write notes to yourself as a reminder (the very act of writing will help your recall).
9. Don’t retire – Volunteer. A satisfying work life offers social stimulation and decision-making opportunities, exercises and problem-solving skills. Check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Relay for Life, both of which have local chapters in the Bay Area.
10. Spend time with loved ones – Being around other people who are engaging will keep you stimulated lower your risk of developing dementia.

When you set aside time each day to walk, learn something new or sample a new brand of dark chocolate, you can help boost your memory for years to come. San Francisco Senior Care urges you to give it a shot, there is nothing to lose and only benefit to gain.