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Senior Lifestyle

The Daily Dispatch

The upside to getting older

The standard for people entering their golden years has long been to fib about their ages. Growing older hasn’t always been seen as a positive. But increasing perks for seniors have made it more advantageous for older adults to be proud of their age. It used to be that a senior discount meant a reduced fare on the bus or a couple of cents saved on that morning cup of coffee. However, as more of the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement years, businesses are catering to Boomers’ active lifestyles with discounts and perks in a variety of ways. “It pays to do a little research, especially at stores where you shop frequently,” says Albert, a retail store manager in New York. “They don’t often advertise their discounts, but many stores do have a policy for senior

savings if you simply ask.” Discounts may vary by franchise or retailer, so it’s important to inquire with customer service or the manager about age requirements and the percentages off purchases. Stores like Kohl’s offer discounts on a certain day of the week. Other businesses may have a standard percentage that they take off regardless of the day or time the purchases are being made. Dunkin Donuts, KB Toys, Banana Republic, and many other retailers offer anywhere from 10 to 15 percent off on purchases. That can add up to considerable savings, especially for older adults living on fixed incomes. And individuals need not be retirement age to reap store perks. Some businesses offer discounts for customers over the age of 62. Many

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others start the cutoff at 50 to 55. The earlier Boomers find out about discounts, the sooner they can start saving. Stores aren’t the only ones offering perks to seniors, either. Discounts may be available on airline flights and other modes of transportation. Reduced rates on hotel rooms, car rentals and other travel industry items are also available.  Community services may be made possible for seniors as well, including low- or no-cost financial counseling. Health companies also may have discounted programs for seniors, including fitness clubs, prescription programs and therapy. Anyone age 50 and up is eligible for enrollment in AARP, which boasts its own collection of discounts and recommended businesses.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Heart health tips no matter the weather

The weather and temperature outdoors can have a large impact on energy levels and motivation to exercise. Warm, sunny weather can beckon one outdoors, while cold or rainy weather could keep one hibernating inside — which is not good for the spirit or the body, including cardiovascular health. Staying active when the weather seems to be pitted against you can be challenging. However, there are many things you can do to make the best of things and still get the exercise needed for a healthy heart. Here are a few ideas to get you started. • Head outdoors: Instead of the regular workouts you do, consider something that makes the most of the weather outdoors. If it’s hot outside, consider walking by the seaside where the ocean mist can keep you cool, or having your feet in the laps of water reaching the sand. Unless you are the Wicked Witch of the West, a little rainfall will not make you melt. Don a raincoat and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood. If it’s cold outdoors or if there’s an residual snow sledding or skiing remain fun ways to burn calories. All of these activities count as moderate to vigorous exercise, which is recommended daily for most people.

• Workout indoors: This doesn’t necessarily mean heading to the nearest gym. It’s possible to get recommended exercise at home or at another location. Walking briskly around a mall is good exercise and you can window shop in the process. Lift heavy items around the house in place of dumbbells. Doing regular household chores with more vigor is another way to get blood flowing and your heart pumping. • Eat right: It’s far too easy to indulge in comfort foods, but they tend to be fattening. Eating the right foods to maintain a healthy weight goes a long way toward protecting the heart. Be sure to eat breakfast every day, and choose fruits and vegetables as snacks over sweet and salty items. Canned varieties are just as healthy as fresh produce and can offer a variety of flavors when certain foods are not in season. Be sure to include plenty of foods high in fiber. Not only will they help keep cholesterol levels in check, but it will also help you to feel full faster and longer. • Dress appropriately: Weather is often unpredictable. Therefore, dress in layers so you can remove or add clothing as needed to remain comfortable.

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The Daily Dispatch

Senior Lifestyle

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to reduce prescription medication costs

For the millions of people who rely on prescription medications every day, the day when a drug faces generic competition is one many circle on their calendars. That’s because generic prescriptions are often significantly less expensive than brand name medications, and consumers are able to save substantial amounts of money once a brand name drug faces generic competition. But many men and women currently taking a brand name prescription might be quick to point out that, while generic medications cost less, brand name prescriptions often rise in price in the months before they face generic competition. Such was the findings of a 2011 study from the AARP Public Policy Institute that examined the 217 brand name drugs most commonly used by people in Medicare. Prices of drugs facing generic

competition in 2010 rose by an average of nearly 14 percent in 2009, an increase that was nearly twice the amount of all other drugs. So while drugs might be more affordable once they can be purchased generically, consumers can expect brand name drug manufacturers to drastically increase their prices in the months prior to facing generic competition, as the manufacturers are, in a way, looking for one last big revenue score before their patents expire.  That’s a troublesome reality for anyone taking a brand name prescription, but especially so for older men and women living on fixed incomes. Though drug manufacturers aren’t likely to change their practices, there are still ways men and women can reduce prescription medication costs. • Ask for generics. If there are generic alternatives to brand name medications available,

always ask a physician for those medications instead of their more expensive brand name counterparts. Don’t just assume a physician will prescribe generics. Sometimes doctors prescribe brand name medications despite the availability of cheaper and equally effective generic medications. • “Test drive” a drug first. Just because a doctor prescribes a drug doesn’t mean the patient will respond to that drug. Many men and women find they are too sensitive to a given medication and stop taking it after just a few days. Unfortunately, they paid for a full prescription and cannot return the pills they don’t plan to use. Individuals who have a history of sensitivity to medications should “test drive” a drug first, ordering just a few pills or asking a physician for samples to see how well the body handles them. This won’t necessarily matter for people with

flat-dollar co-payments (you will essentially have to pay two co-payments if the drug proves effective), but those without such a plan can save themselves some money if medication does not work out. • Buy in bulk. Men and women who have been taking a certain medication for a long time and expect to keep taking it might want to consider buying the medicine in bulk. This can save money; just make sure pills purchased won’t surpass their expiration date before you take them. • Inquire about combination medications. Sometimes medications used to treat the same condition can be purchased as combination

Even though drugs might be more affordable once they can be purchased generically, consumers can expect brand name drug manufacturers to drastically increase their prices in the months prior to facing generic competition, looking for one last big revenue score before their patents expire. pills. This will only require one prescription instead of two.  On a similar note, men and women taking

medications for two different conditions might also be able to take just one medication that treats both conditions.


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The Daily Dispatch

Senior Lifestyle

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guide to dating after 50

A growing number of people entering the world of dating are over the age of 50. While some things have changed since they did this the first time around, the rules of dating have largely remained the same. During an episode of the popular sitcom, “Seinfeld,” George Costanza experiences extreme anxiety from the thought of his recently separated mother being “out there” in the dating world. “I’m out there,” offers Estelle.  “No, you’re not! Because I’m out there, and if I see you out there, there’s not enough voltage in the universe to electroshock me back into coherency,” George says. However, the fact remains

that many seniors are from a wide array of potential re-entering the dating world mates. Dating sites also give after divorces or the death of those seeking mates a chance a spouse. Some to learn a little Many seniors are about what makes eternal bachelors and bachelorettes the other person re-entering the may have never dating world after tick, which can be a left.  good starting point divorces or the For those about for conversation death of a spouse. when a date is to re-enter the dating game in eventually set. Some eternal their senior years, • The numbers bachelors and these tips and are favorable bachelorettes tidbits may help for men. Senior make the process a may have never men entering the bit easier. dating world have left.  • Use dating an easier time of sites. For those finding a potential shy about simply mingling date simply because there are in the singles’ social scene, more women than men in the online sites offer a measure senior age bracket. Women of anonymity and can take tend to live longer than men, away some of the pressure. which widens the dating pool Plus they enable daters to pool for gentlemen.

• Use tried and true tactics. Some of the same ways people landed a date in the past remain the best ways to land one now. Individuals can ask to be set up by friends with single acquaintances. People can participate in activities they enjoy and chat with others who share the same likes. Simply being friendly and getting the word out that there is an interest in dating may help. • Get a makeover. Now may be the time to explore some new wardrobe options or experiment with a different haircut. Potential mates will likely want a date who looks put together and current. Although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, most people still do. • Remember to be safe.

Those who plan to date and become sexually active should take precautions against diseases — they don’t discriminate based on age. Keep in mind that, although rare, pregnancies are possible even for a women in her 50s if she hasn’t yet gone through menopause. Individuals may find themselves at the pharmacy once again sheepishly purchasing condoms. • Realize it may take time. Finding the right match may take several dates and patience. Just because a person is now older doesn’t mean he or she has to be desperate and accept the first person who comes along. If there’s no chemistry, say so and move on. Once that special person is found, it will be worth the effort.

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The Daily Dispatch

Healthy aging includes safe driving It’s common for men and women to periodically reassess their lifestyle as they age. With a goal toward healthy aging, most people can recognize the role their lifestyle plays in their overall health. An often overlooked part of healthy aging is how some, if any, physical changes have affected how a person drives his or her automobile. Any adult who has had to discuss driving with an elderly relative knows how difficult such a discussion can be, as automobiles have long represented a certain level of independence no adult wants to give up. But even those who have yet to reach retirement age should assess their driving to determine if aging has begun to affect their driving. Such an assessment can help men and women determine if it’s time to take steps to make themselves safer drivers. • Assess eyesight: A driver’s eyesight is integral to his or her safety on the road. Fortunately, eyesight can be corrected with prescription glasses or even surgery. Men and women who have trouble reading street signs or seeing street markings might need an eye examination. Also, if dusk or nighttime driving has grown more difficult it might be time for an eye exam. Difficulty seeing while behind the wheel puts drivers and their passengers at significant risk, but such a problem might be solved by a new eyeglass prescription.

Poor visibility might have nothing to do with a driver’s vision. It could be a by-product of certain external factors. Drivers having trouble seeing might consider adjusting their seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers should be able to see at least 10 feet in front of their own vehicle. A seat that is too low can decrease visibility. In addition, when taking a vehicle in for routine repairs, ask the mechanic to inspect the headlights to make sure they are working and aimed correctly.  • Assess the vehicle: As men and women age, they may find it is more difficult to control a motor vehicle. Strength, coordination and flexibility diminish as a person ages, and this can affect a person’s ability to drive. But such physiological changes don’t necessarily mean a person has to give up driving. It might just mean it’s time to find a car that’s easier to drive. For example, many drivers prefer vehicles with manual transmissions, feeling such cars are more fun to drive. However, as a person ages, the ease of driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes can make it much safer for that driver to be on the road. Older drivers often find smaller vehicles are easier to control, and such drivers should consider smaller cars if they’re having trouble controlling their current vehicle.

Senior Lifestyle

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Seniors, did you know that ...?

Men and women who die without a will do not automatically have their assets seized by the government. When men and women die without a will, they leave what is known as intestacy. The only time a deceased person’s assets end up with the government is when the deceased has no living next of kin. Should a man or woman with living family or dependents perish without a will, a formula is then used to distribute the

deceased’s assets. While this formula ensures family or dependents get some of the deceased person’s assets, it does not necessarily mean the deceased’s wishes will be honored. To ensure their wishes are honored, a person must have a will in place. Otherwise, the formula will be used to distribute assets. Contrary to popular belief, children do not have to be born from legal marriage to share

in the distribution of assets. What’s more, laws have changed to include de facto partners in the distribution of assets when the deceased leaves no will. Previously, this only applied to spouses. However, now same sex-couples have entitlements when their partners die without a will. To determine the rules of asset distribution when a man or woman dies without a will, consult an attorney. 

Treatment options abound for arthritis sufferers Arthritis affects millions of people and can be a debilitating condition that impacts a person’s mobility and quality of life. The March 2010 issue of Arthritis Care & Research revealed that 18.7 percent of Americans and 16.9 percent of Canadians suffer from some type of arthritis. The word “arthritis” refers to more than 100 separate medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis-related joint problems cause pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of the bones, enabling them to glide against one another) and surrounding structures. Such damage can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that, depending on the location of joint involvement, can interfere with the most basic daily tasks, including walking, climbing stairs, using a computer keyboard, cutting food, or brushing teeth. Arthritis has no cure, though medications and physical therapy may be prescribed to

help manage pain and improve mobility. There are many different medicines that may be used to treat arthritis. Here is a look at some of the most common. • Topical pain relievers — These drugs are applied to areas of concern and are absorbed by the body to relieve pain. They are generally effective for people who have mild symptoms in just a few areas of the body.  • Anti-inflammator y pain relievers — These pain medicines may be over-thecounter or prescription drugs. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are common painkillers, as are nonsteroidal anti-inflammator y drugs, or NSAIDS. Prescription doses may be helpful for more painful symptoms. • Narcotic pain relievers — For pain that is not controlled by NSAIDS and other methods, arthritis sufferers may be prescribed narcotic drugs that are more potent. While effective, narcotic drugs are addictive. They also may cause side effects, including constipation. • Antidepressants — Some doctors prescribe antidepressants to relieve pain. It is not fully understood how the medications affect the

body’s interpretation of pain, but the role of these drugs on brain chemicals may be the connection. Drowsiness and dr y mouth may occur from these drugs. • Steroids — For a variety of reasons, steroids are very useful at reducing inflammation in the body. But prolonged use — especially when taken orally — can result in a number of side effects, including weight gain and acne breakouts. Doctors try to avoid these problems by injecting the steroid into the affected joint or trying other medications in combination with steroids to keep the dose of steroids as low as possible. • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) — These drugs are often used for diseases of the autoimmune system, especially rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. These medications work by interfering with or suppressing the immune system that attacks its own joints in people with these conditions. These medications can cause serious side effects because they essentially slow down the body’s ability to fend off illnesses. But for some people they are the best plan of attack for symptoms.


Senior Lifestyle

The Daily Dispatch

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What to look for in an elder care facility As men and women enter their golden years, many decide they can no longer maintain their homes and choose to downgrade to something smaller, be it an apartment or a condominium. For millions of others, health plays a significant role when deciding where to move when it’s time to sell their homes. According to the AARP, slightly more than five percent of people 65 years and older reside in nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and board-and-care homes. Statistics Canada notes that by 2004-05, the most recent year for which statistics are

available, one in 30 Canadians over the age of 65 were living in homes for the aged. Though no one plans to live in a nursing home, seniors and their families should at least know what to look for just in case.  • Determine individual needs — Men and women researching potential living facilities might find it difficult to determine their specific needs. Unforeseen health conditions, for instance, might dictate which option is the best fit. Men and women who have a medical condition that requires routine monitoring will almost certainly want a skilled nursing facility. But

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those without medical conditions who need help with simpler tasks of everyday life are likely to have those needs met by an intermediate facility. Some facilities provide both types of care, which can make transitioning from one to another much easier if or when that need arises. Facilities typically have intake planners on staff who evaluate each individual and determine which level of care is the best fit. • Research policies and procedures — Each facility should be ready and willing to share and discuss its policies and procedures with regards to residents. What is

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the procedure when a resident has a medical emergency? What if a resident finds a living situation unpleasant? What is the facility’s philosophy regarding staff and resident interaction? What are the facility’s hiring practices, including certification requirements, for its personnel? What is the ratio of staff to residents? Each facility should be able to answer these questions promptly and adequately. Those who can’t should be checked off the list of residences to consider. • Facility ratings — According to the AARP, recent research has shown that nonprofit nursing

homes offer higher-quality care, better staff-resident ratios, and have fewer health violations than facilities managed by for-profit companies. Men and women researching facilities can visit Caring. com, an online resource for men and women caring for aging relatives. The Web site enables adults to compare nursing homes in their areas, including if a home is for profit or nonprofit, and the home’s capacity. U.S. residents can even learn each facility’s Medicare ratings, which are determined by examining the safety of the facility and its overall quality of care and a host of other

factors. • Get a firsthand account — Before choosing a facility for themselves or an elderly relative, individuals should spend some time at the facilities they’re considering to get a firsthand account of what life at that facility is like. Observe the staff interactions with residents, including if they address residents with respect and patience. How do the current residents look? The move to an elderly care facility is often difficult and sometimes depressing, so each of the above conditions can carry significant weight when choosing a facility.

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Senior Lifestyle

The Daily Dispatch


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Exercise myths aging women should ignore

Fatigue and minor aches and pains that often come with aging can make exercise seem like a wrong activity for older women to partake in. While every woman should discuss her specific physical condition with a physician, especially if those aches and pains are persistent, adopting a sedentary lifestyle is not likely to make things better.  The misconception that aging women should save their strength and rest is one of the many myths associated with exercise and older women. The following are a few of the more popular myths that many women would be better off ignoring. • Exercise is for younger women, I need to rest. A sedentary lifestyle isn’t healthy for anyone, and aging women are no exception. When aging women are inactive, their

ability to do things for themselves and on their own decreases. This includes daily and relatively simple tasks like watering the plants or taking the dog for a walk, or more strenuous activities like playing with their grandchildren. Even if you can’t go jogging like you used to, that doesn’t mean you won’t still benefit from less difficult exercises.  • Exercise increases my risk of injury. Aging women might fear that the more they exercise, the more they may fall and suffer a serious injury. However, the opposite is true. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and prevents bone loss while improving balance. This means aging women who exercise are less likely to fall. Even if you do fall, your bones will be stronger and more capable of handling a fall

than an older woman who does not exercise at all. • I’m disabled so exercise is pointless. Aging women benefit from exercise, even those women who might be disabled. Even if you need a wheelchair to get around, that doesn’t mean you won’t still benefit from routine exercise. Women in wheelchairs can still do cardiovascular exercises, stretch and even lift light weights. Such activities can reduce risk of heart disease while improving muscle tone and increasing range of motion. • It’s too late to begin a new exercise regimen. It’s never too late for anyone, including aging women, to begin a new exercise regimen. If it’s been awhile since you last laced up your sneakers, start light with a walk around the neighborhood

Women of all ages can benefit from routine exercise, and it’s never too late to begin a new regimen. and other activities that won’t elevate your heart rate or prove overly taxing. As your body gradually gets acclimated to exercise, you can up the ante a little bit with slightly more challenging exercises.  • I’m too tired to exercise. As women age,

some find they struggle to get a decent night’s sleep and mistakenly assume this is just a natural side effect of aging. The following day the resulting fatigue causes some women to feel they are too tired to exercise. However, exercise can actually

improve sleep and helps many active people sleep more deeply and without interruption. If you have been struggling to sleep through the night, use exercise to your advantage and you might find you’re suddenly sleeping much, much better.

When migraines mimic a stroke

In February 2011, Grammy Award television viewers were exposed to some troubling images from a red carpet reporter. CBS correspondent Serene Branson began speaking gibberish in what appeared to be an on-air stroke. Branson struggled to speak for a few seconds before the broadcast cut away to a previously recorded B-roll of the awards. Many people weighed in that Branson had a stroke on air, but testing revealed that it may have been a migraine that was responsible for her symptoms instead. Migraines can cause symptoms that are often

mistaken for mini-strokes. These debilitating headaches can contribute to temporary facial paralysis, vertigo, blurry vision, and weakness or paralysis in the limbs. It’s easy to see how they can be confused with a mini-stroke, which

features many of the same symptoms. Even if a person is prone to migraines, he or she should have any traumatic event like this checked by a physician to rule out more serious conditions, like stroke. "

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The Daily Dispatch

Senior Lifestyle

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Osteoarthritis affects millions of aging men and women While there are many benefits to getting older, few people associate the aging process with all the good things that occur as a person approaches their golden years. Instead, aging is more often associated with aches and pains than grandkids and trips around the world. Though such associations are unfortunate, they are rooted in the reality that aging often comes with a few ailments. One such ailment many older adults deal with is osteoarthritis, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects more than 12 million men and women over the age of 65 in the United States alone. In Canada, one in 10 adults has osteoarthritis, proving this most common form of arthritis does not discriminate based on geography.  But as prevalent as osteoarthritis might be, the millions of men and women currently living with the condition are proof that it doesn’t have to ruin a person’s golden years. In fact, learning

about osteoarthritis, its risk factors and prospective treatment options can help those men and women currently living with the condition or those concerned about developing it down the road. • What is osteoarthritis? — Osteoarthritis, or OA, is also referred to as degenerative joint disease. The most common type of arthritis, OA occurs when cartilage begins to wear away. Cartilage is an essential part of each joint, helping to absorb shock and enabling the joint to move smoothly. OA most often occurs in the body’s weight-bearing joints, which includes the hips, knees and spine. When a person has OA, the cartilage in a joint stiffens and loses it elasticity, which makes it more susceptible to damage. Joints will be stiff in the morning, a stiffness that can last roughly 15 to 20 minutes. As the day progresses and the joints are used more and more, the pain can intensify and swelling can occur. This is typically because, as the joint’s cartilage

continues to deteriorate, the tendons and ligaments are stretching and causing pain. • Are there symptoms of OA? — There are symptoms of OA, but these can vary greatly from individual to individual. Some people experience few symptoms of OA even if X-rays indicate their joints have undergone significant degeneration. In addition, the pain associated with OA isn’t necessarily constant, and some people can go years without experiencing any OA-related pain. Such instances are most common among people with OA of the hands and knees. Those who do exhibit symptoms of OA can do so in a variety of ways. Men and women with progressive cartilage degeneration in their knee joints might become bow legged or develop a limp, which will worsen as the cartilage continues to degenerate.  OA of the spine often causes pain in

the neck or lower back. Severe pain can be caused by bony spurs that form along the spine, and numbness and tingling of affected body parts can result as well.  Men and women with OA of the hands can also exhibit symptoms, which are usually bony deformities along the joints of the fingers. Heberden’s node is a bony enlargement at the small joint of the fingers that occurs because of bone spurs resulting from OA in that joint. A bony knob that occurs at the middle joint of the fingers, known as Bouchard’s node, is also quite common among men and women with OA of the hands. While neither of these nodes is especially painful, they are associated with limited motion of the affected joint. Patients with OA at the base of the big toes might notice the formation of a bunion, something that researchers suggest is possibly genetic, as it can be found in numerous female members of certain families.

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Daily Dispatch: Special Section; Senior Lifestyles: June 24, 2012