Dr. Swarup and his staff are pleased to provide the most technologically advanced eye care throughout eastern North Carolina for over 24 years.
Edenton, Elizabeth City, Kinston, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Washington, North Carolina. AECPEC.com 1-800-755-7535
2 - S enior Living â€˘ The Coas tland Time s â€˘ Fall/ Winter 2019
In an Outer Banks Garden…
Houseplants – Gardening all year long By Chris Stadther Even though it isn’t winter yet, the dark and gloomy days are here. We are beginning to spend more time indoors. Houseplants enable us to garden yearround and are a great excuse to buy more plants. Houseplants can make the indoors more attractive and pleasant. Extensive research by NASA and other notable research institutions indicates that indoor plants improve air quality by filtering out pollutants; they can remove up to 87% of air toxins in just 24 hours. Studies have also demonstrated that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity by as much to 15 percent! They reduce stress levels and boost mood making them perfect for chasing away your winter blues. At this time of year, the local nurseries and box stores carry an array of plants that are festive and beautiful. But before buying, do a little research so that your new plants will thrive. Select a plant with light requirements that match your indoor environment. Arrowhead plant (Syngonium), ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), and peace lily (Spathplyllum) prefer low-light conditions, while Peperomia, various begonias and African violets prefer medium light near windows that face east. High-light plants such as gardenia, hibiscus, cacti and succulents need to be in a bright location near a south or southwest facing window. Houseplants need less water when indoors. Before watering, feel the soil with your finger to determine the moisture level. Indoor humidity is often too low for houseplants to flourish adequately. Grouping plants closely together can trap moisture from the air and increase the humidity around the plants. Pebbles in a saucer filled with water just below the surface can also increase the humidity around the plants. Your indoor plants will need to be cleaned up every few weeks because dust or a greasy film can collect on the
leaves and dull their appearance. Cleaning the leaves with a soft cloth dampened with water or rinsing the leaves off in the shower or sink works well. Plants with hairy leaves, like African violets, can be dusted off with a soft brush. Indoor plants have a reduced need for fertilizing during the short days of
winter or their resting period. In spring and summer, when plants are showing signs of new growth, is the time to fertilize. Fertilize at the rate recommended on the label. For more information on houseplants that are easy to care for go to https:// plants.ces.ncsu.edu.
Chris Stadther is a Master Gardener SM Volunteer for Dare County. For gardening questions contact the Dare Cooperative Extension at 473-4290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Benefits of Assisted Living Requiring the help of others can be a hard reality to accept. Many seniors may view moving to an assisted living center as giving up their independence. However, these specialized facilities offer people much of your familiar lifestyle with the security that someone is watching over your health. Consider these benefits they provide for the next new and exciting chapter in your life. Camaraderie with Residents Social isolation can be a devastating condition for seniors. In fact, the American Association of Retired
Persons offers these sobering statistics to consider. • 17% of adults aged 65 and older feel isolated. • 26% are at an increased risk of early death due to the feeling of loneliness. • 46% of women aged 75 and older live alone. An assisted living facility helps maintain a social life as community events are held to stimulate physical and mental health. Seniors can participate in exercise programs, exciting games and build relationships with staff and fellow residents.
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Constant Health Care Supervision You may not feel like you need constant supervision at this stage in your life, but as you continue to age, it’s likely your capabilities will falter and make daily activities more difficult. Deciding to commit to an assisted living community before this occurs, allows you to become familiar with the staff and professionals you will later rely on. They are highly trained to offer 24/7 care in a professional and dignified manner. More Free Time One reason seniors decide to move into assisted living is when the demand
of maintenance for their family home becomes too much. Once you downsize and sell your previous property, you gain more free time to use for fun activities or to enhance your health. Healthy and Delicious Meals Cooking can become increasingly difficult due to conditions like arthritis, but it’s still important to eat healthy. Most assisted living facilities offer delicious meals which include the nutrients your body needs to age gracefully. Dining centers also give residents the opportunity to enjoy the company of friends as they share an elegant meal.
Recognizing Alzheimer’s By Gail E. Sonnesso, MS GEM Day Services, Inc.
November is Nationals Alzheimer’s Month and families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Meeting with older family members you might notice changes that cause you to wonder are they showing signs of memory loss? If you suspect that that your loved ones’ homes and behaviors have changed, you might want to suggest a memory screening and learn more about the symptoms yourself. As one family member said to me “you don’t think about it (Alzheimer’s) till it hits someone you love!” GEM, a community based 501(c)(3), has been working with families and people experiencing Alzheimer’s since 1997. We provide memory screenings, educational events and programs designed to enhance the wellbeing of the person living with Alzheimer’s. “GEM helps me to be who I’m supposed to be,” said Vernon Smith, GEM
participant. How does GEM provide a program where people feel like themselves, despite dementia? We work with families, care partners from a base of knowledge and ongoing interactions and program. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death and one in three seniors dies with it for another dementia. Between 2000 and 2017, deaths from heart disease have decreased by 9% while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 145%. A person can live with Alzheimer’s and related dementias from 8-20 years. There are recognizable stages and different supports required for each stage. GEM’s office located in Southern Shores has an extensive lending library carefully selected by GEM board members and families that will help you and your family on this journey. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy your family, but if you have concerns don’t brush them aside.
To Drive or Not to Drive By Marci Lait, MD Blue Water Ear Nose & Throat, PA
As a physician who sees the impact of aging on balance and risk for falls I often think about or am asked about that same impact on driving skills. In terms of balance, the most important factors are vision, inner ear function (most specifically the vestibular part), the sense of touch in the feet, and the sense of position in the joints such as the ankles and hips. At the same time, though, interruptions in these same functions can also interfere with coordination, reflexes, and other skills integral to safe driving. Moreover, they are also associated with cognitive functions that must not be understated when it comes to safe driving. For most seniors, getting behind the wheel of a car has been a part of life for close to a half century or more. And for all those years, it has opened up their world and allowed them to move out of one little corner to explore and enjoy the world. Decisions about safety behind the wheel arise at homes, in doctors’ offices, and occasionally at licensing bureaus; a few places you don’t want them to happen are in a court or in whispers behind
your back. The balance between mobility and safety involves more than just the driver; other passengers, other vehicles, pedestrians and property are also at stake. On the other hand, motor vehicle accidents are disproportionately fatal for seniors themselves, primarily due to underlying health issues. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the number of drivers over 65 years has increased 56% between 1999 and 2016. The good news is there are some encouraging trends that should be well heeded by those who want to maintain their independence. Avoiding conditions that can further impair driving ability is often a first step. Consider not driving during bad weather, at night, or on high speed roads. Not drinking and driving should be obvious for everyone but statistics show that drinking and driving is less common than in younger drivers and, better yet, alcohol is rarely involved in accidents involving drivers over 75. So, how do you and your loved ones start the conversation about relinquishing what always seemed like a right to drive. Things to think about include everyone’s safety, recognition of warning
signs that ultimately can dictate timing, and thinking ahead of the need about alternatives for your mobility and independence when the time comes. In a small, expansive community like the Outer Banks, the latter is critical to prevent becoming locked in. Deterioration in our senses that can occur as part of a medical problem or simply as a part of aging are critical cues. Visual issues including untreated cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration should never be overlooked. Loss of hearing doesn’t seem as obvious but can add to other issues such as decreased range of motion or decreased reflexes when assessing factors that increase risk. Diabetes, Parkinsons Disease, and Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) can all impair numerous key functions. Asking your doctor or pharmacist to make you aware of medications that may increase your risk behind the wheel—forewarned is forearmed. Additional signs of imminent problems should not be ignored. Driving behaviors that may disclose a more urgent assessment include difficulty changing lanes, failing to signal or yield to signals or signs, near accidents, inconsistencies
in speed, and getting lost near home. These may precede warnings, tickets or accidents big or small. Remembering that everyone’s goal should be safety, it can’t be underestimated how important your own safety is. This is clearly the compassionate place to start the discussion. Resources are available from the Centers for Disease Control which offers some tremendous resources. They offer a downloadable program titled “My Mobility Plan” offers a way to make preparations in advance for the possibility that you will need to get around but can no longer drive. To consider where you go now, how you get there and contingency plans for the future allow you to think out what you might need. AARP offers online refresher courses for senior driving and AAA offers senior defensive driving courses. At the end of the day, the question of “To drive or not to drive” is nearly as existential as the question of “To be or not to be.” I don’t think that anyone should discount this when taking the question into consideration. It is rarely so obvious as taking a license from someone who has lost their vision.
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Change your Diet It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes that positively impact our health. As people age, diets become increasingly important to lessen the risks of disease by eating nutritious items. If you’re unfamiliar with what it takes to create a well-balanced menu, you should start by asking your general practitioner for a referral to a quality nutritionist. Based on your health and diet, they can recommend a plan that works specifically for you. Check with your health care provider to ensure their services are covered by your insurance. Here are some basic tips to get you started toward clean eating from the National Council on Aging. Use MyPlate Do you remember the food pyramid that the United States Department of Agriculture introduced to America in 1992? While it served as an efficient guide to help people understand the important nutrients they needed, in 2011, the MyPlate system was created. While it stays true to the importance of fruits, vegetables and protein, the new guide makes it simpler to visualize how much of each should be eaten. Check it out before changing up your diet toward better health. Variety of Nutrients In addition to sticking to the proper serving levels of different nutrients, the National Council on Aging also recommends that a plate should contain bright, colored foods as they contain important vitamins. Make sure to check the Nutrition Facts label and ensure it is packed with nutrients and low on fat, sugar and sodium. Discuss your new eating plan with your doctor or nutritionist to discover what your body needs and what you should avoid based on your health. Stick to Recommended Servings Even healthy foods should be eaten with a serving limit in mind. Check out these new guidelines from the American Heart Association for people over 60 years of age: five servings of vegetables per day; four servings of fruit per day; and eight to nine servings of meat per week. 6 - S enior Living • The Coas tland Time s • Fall/ Winter 2019
Activities with Limited Mobility While there are many health disorders that can affect your mobility and energy, you shouldn’t be discouraged from engaging in more stationary activities. If it’s difficult to stay physically active, challenging your mind can have great health benefits to your cognitive health. According to the National Institutes on Aging, simple activities like reading, photography and learning a new skill can improve your memory and ability to think. If you’re struggling to find activities to occupy your time, consider partaking in some of these beneficial activities.
Reading A great way to spend time indoors during the crisp autumn temperatures is in the company of a good book. Whether you’re aiming to improve your knowledge on a subject or inspiring creativity by delving into a nonfiction read, the organization Reading Partners suggests reading is a proven way to reduce stress, combat mental decline and increase empathy. The mental benefits of enjoying a story or article are something to take advantage of. Volunteer at a Local Charity Contributing monetar y donations is a great way to feel a sense of
accomplishment and help a worthy cause. Volunteering your time can be even more beneficial. Look around your community for organizations who need help to enhance their mission. You can look for jobs like serving at a food shelter, reading to children and preparing community events to raise money. Play Challenging Games Challenge and improve your mental skills by participating in puzzle solving games. You can typically find difficult crossword puzzles or sudoku challenges within your daily newspaper. When using a pencil to complete these activities is too difficult, consider investing in a touchscreen tablet and download
challenging apps that are easier to play. Take in the Local Arts Scene Enhance your culture by absorbing art contributions from your local artists or by visiting different museums in your own region. Familiarize yourself with different techniques, and styles like abstract, realism and impressionism. Become a part of the local art community where you can build significant relationships with other enthusiasts or collectors. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at creating your own masterpiece. Look around your area for painting or art lessons and ask the peers you find navigating art galleries about local classes.
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Find Inner Peace Some of us constantly find our minds racing. Whether it’s about health conditions, financial burdens or family difficulties, clearing the distractions from your head and finding inner silence is beneficial. It helps us work through our problems and navigate life with a sense of calm. While it may be easy to think that you can just shut your mind off and relish in serenity, that’s not always the case. Finding peace in your mind takes practice, dedication and accepting what makes your brain race. If you’re ready to stop the chatter in your mind that disturbs your daily life, here are some tips to get you started. Live Stress Free According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suffering from long-term stress can strain your body and contribute to worsening symptoms regarding mental health. They say these are the most common reasons people are susceptible to becoming stressed. Understanding them can help plan a strategy to avoid these situations. They include not getting enough sleep, lack of a support network, experiencing poor physical health and not eating a healthy diet. While there may be bigger factors at play, making minor changes can decrease the amount of stress you experience. Don’t Neglect Your Body Much like your vehicle you rely on to navigate you through town, your body requires maintenance to perform at its best. Regular exercise doesn’t only benefit your physical health, it also releases stress-relieving hormones throughout your body. While beginning a routine may be difficult, as it becomes a part of your life, it’s a fun and expected experience for your body and mind. You should also treat yourself to healthy eating options. The NAMI suggests that eating unprocessed foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits is the foundation for overall health. Eating a healthier diet is also shown to stabilize your mood. Meditate If you are skeptical of the benefits gained through meditation, the experts at the Exploration of Consciousness Research Institute encourages us to try it to improve self-discipline, concentration, motivation and a positive mindset. Meditation is a way to delve deep into our minds to discover the roots of stressful issues and can teach us to accept them or build a plan of resolution. 8 - S enior Living • The Coas tland Time s • Fall/ Winter 2019
Vacation in an RV For those who retired and reside in a cooler region, it’s not uncommon to leave home as fall and winter enter. Traveling to warmer destinations can be affordable if you have a vacation home. However, when your plan includes an extended stay hopping from condos or hotels, the costs can rack up quickly. One way to avoid the expense is by investing in an RV and bringing the comforts of home with you. Driving the American roadways and stopping for rest at different campgrounds or camper resorts offers a new perspective on vacation and can even create life-long friendships with other travelers. Before heading to the RV dealership, here are some decisions you should plan
Type of Camper The size and length of your camper largely lies on the type of vehicle you plan to use for hauling. If you already have a truck for towing, explain to your salesman its limits. However, if you plan to purchase an RV, then a vehicle for hauling, your options for weight and towing options are vaster. Here are a few of the most common RVs you should expect to choose from. Class A & C: Perfect for full-time campers, you can forgo an additional towing vehicle as these camping companions are built on a truck or bus chassis and equipped with a drivetrain.
Fifth wheel: These RVs typically offer the largest living space in towable campers. Your truck must be equipped with a fifth-wheel hitch which usually requires an additional installation. Travel trailer: A camper built to be towed with a common bumper hitch, they accommodate campers with easy towing and a wide variety of floor plans and features to choose from. Buy New or Used? Many RV shoppers may choose to purchase their vehicle through a private party to save money. Unless you’re buying from a trusted source, this investment can be a mistake, especially if the camper was mistreated by a previous owner.
For the best peace of mind that you are buying a reliable vehicle, work with a professional dealership. Even their used units may come with an extended warranty and a guarantee that it has been thoroughly inspected. Buying a brand new unit is your best chance to take advantage of the latest and greatest features offered by a manufacturer. Look for enhanced heating or cooling systems if you plan to trek into extreme temperature regions and floor plans that make sense to your lifestyle. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see your dream machine sitting on the lot, most reputable dealers can custom order the perfect RV because of their relationships with manufacturers.
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Lessen the Risk of Strokes The risks of experiencing a life-threatening stroke increases with age. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that 70% of victims are aged 65 or older. While the risks associated with age are out of your control, there are numerous lifestyle changes you can make to lessen your chances of experiencing one. Do you know the signs that you or a loved one is suffering from a stroke? The National Institutes on Aging encourages us to become familiar with these symptoms and call 911 immediately if you are experiencing them: • Sudden confusion or inability to speak coherently; • Numbness or weakness to the head, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body; • Problems seeing in one or both eyes; and • Sudden dizziness or a severe headache occurring with no known cause. The speed at which you identify a stroke and receive medical help can greatly impact the lasting effects during recovery. Lower the Risks The United States Department of Health and Human Services suggests that keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is one of the most important steps to lower your risk of a stroke. Here are a few more actions they recommend. Be physical and eat healthy to maintain a healthy weight. Quit smoking.
Regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels and treat conditions of heart disease. Proactive Health Care Without regular checkups, it’s impossible to understand your stroke risks. Take control of your health by committing to a proactive routine with your primary physician. With a few simple tests, they can discover your likelihood of an episode and offer tips on how to resolve the risks. Harvard Health Publishing says one such screening, a carotid ultrasound, is efficient in identifying a buildup of cholesterol-filled plaque in arteries in the neck. These are the vessels that deliver blood to the brain and can cause a stroke once blocked. Doctors may also determine stroke-inducing heart problems by simply listening with a stethoscope. They will be watching for irregular rates or rhythms. Learn Family History While you can change your lifestyle to promote healthier living, your genetics may mean you are predisposed to the risks of a stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says conditions like heart disease, sickle-cell disease and heredity attributing to unhealthy choices, can all be passed down genetically. Understanding your risk due to family history can show you the seriousness of your risks and improve your efforts to make changes to maintain your health.
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Senior Living Fall/Winter 2019 edition from The Coastland Times.