How Good Sleep Benefits Seniors

This article first appeared on Senior Care Corner, another resource for family caregivers of seniors.

InsomniaSleep eludes many of us as we age, seemingly more and more as the years pass.

We might tend to wake early or not sleep as deeply. Women who are experiencing extreme temperature changes chalk it up to the change and try to deal with it. Others just accept sleep deprivation as a normal part of aging.

Perhaps your aging loved one has even told you, “I didn’t do anything today to tire me out, why should I sleep OK?” I have heard that from many older adults through the years.

The truth of the matter is we all need a good, deep, restorative sleep every night to stay healthy as we age. The amount and the quality of our sleep does matter, regardless of our age.

When we are sleep deprived our health suffers, including our mood, energy levels and now we are learning — our cognition. Read More …

How a Specialist Nurse can Help with Dementia

By Rohit Agarwal

Dementia is a series of mental illnesses, sadly most of which are seen as incurable. One of the most commonly found dementia case is Alzheimer’s, which comprises of about 75% of all dementia patients. Dementia has a direct effect on a person’s ability to think and reason. It also affects the patient’s short term memory and basic problem solving. It is thus important for nurses involved with the care of dementia patients to be well aware of the patient’s needs and should be able to handle all situations without making the patient feel the loss of control. Here are some tips for a Specialist Dementia Nurse while taking care of patients.

nurse

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/felbrycollege/

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Kick Back Pain with Healthy Habits

Senior Man Suffering From Back Pain At HomeThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that 27 million adults suffered from back problems in 2007 with upwards of $30.3 billion spent to ease the pain. While it may be comforting to know you’re not alone while facing back surgery or during post-op recovery, it doesn’t make the process any easier. However, there are healthy ways to manage your pain and stay on top of your recovery to get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Read More …

Insufficient Sleep, a Public Health Epidemic

This report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic.”

Man Yawns

 

Continued public health surveillance of sleep quality, duration, behaviors, and disorders is needed to monitor sleep difficulties and their health impact.

 

 

Self-reported sleep problemsSleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.1 Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.1 Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role.1 An estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder1. Notably, snoring is a major indicator of obstructive sleep apnea. Read More …

Stress Reduction

 

Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Related Video: 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? (9:19 min)

Related Products: The 25 most ridiculous stress relief products

PRICELE$$ – Life Expectancy isn’t even in Top 50

Pricele$$ ThumbRanking countries by life expectancy, the United States isn’t even in the top 50. We even rank behind Guam. Why?

  • SLEEP — Could it be our high stress and deficient sleep? Sleep deprivation (sleeping less than 6 hours/night when we need 7-9) is associated with 2.5 times higher Diabetes risk, 62% increase in risk of Breast Cancer, 48% increased risk of Heart Disease, 27% higher Obesity risk, and even higher risk of developing early Alzheimer’s. Heck, it makes you 20% more likely to die in 20 years.  Read More …

How To Sleep Well As You Age

Tips and Tricks for a Good Night’s Sleep

Old Lady Sleeps

EDITOR: I welcome today’s guest article by Beth Wallace since we’re coming up on Insomnia Awareness Week (April 1-7), and since earlier this week I described the Emerging Sleep Wellness Market while announcing an expanded mission of Modern Health Talk that includes sleep, along with nutrition and exercise, as the pillars of good health.

Whether you’re a newborn, a teenager or a senior, sleep will always play a vital role in your physical and emotional wellbeing. Sleep does plenty for us that we may be unaware of, from repairing damaged cells, to improving memory, to even giving our busy minds some peace and quiet when we most need it. As we age, getting regular sleep continues to be important, and while many of us lead busy lives with many responsibilities, it remains necessary to make getting a good nights sleep a priority. Read More …

The Emerging Sleep Wellness Market

Withings Aura

The lead image for the Times article featured the Withings Aura, a very sensitive under-the mattress sensor that connects with a colored night light and alarm clock. The light can change colors from blue, which is good for waking you up in the morning, to red, which is preferred at night since blue light inhibits melatonin production and the biological clock that tells the body it’s time to sleep. But instead of showing the bluish version, I found this red version more appropriate for an article on sleep.

Consumers are learning how sleep affects health, safety and productivity, thanks to a flood of articles in the scientific literature and mainstream news media. Today I responded to Collecting Data on a Good Night’s Sleep, an article in The New York Times about all of the fitness activity trackers and under-the-mattress sensors.

These sensors basically tell you what you already know — you don’t sleep well — but few actually help you sleep better. Some attempt to monitor sleep and wake you at the best time close to when you set your alarm. They may even show graphs of sleep patterns, based on how much you move or even your heart rate, but they can’t be very accurate without also measuring brainwave activity. Zeo was the one product I know of that did that fairly well, but it ended up going under. Read More …

The Underestimated Caregiver Burden

The number of family caregivers is declining.By Henry Moss (original at American Society on Aging)

Caregiver burden is emotional and subjective. We try to measure it by looking at rates of depression and anxiety disorders in the caregiver population, and at the seriousness of these disorders. We know the highest rates of emotional burden and the deepest levels of depression are felt by caregivers who experience entrapment—a sense of powerlessness, aloneness and suffering associated with long periods of caregiving for the most difficult elders, especially those with dementia. We are aware of the many studies showing how excess stress and emotional burden can impact a caregiver’s health, finances and family life, creating even more anxiety and depression.

We already know that the 45- to 64-year-old population will grow only 1 percent between 2010 and 2030, while the age 80 and older baby boomer population increases by 79 percent. As the age 80 and older baby boomer cohort grows, the number of family caregivers available to assist them drops dramatically, from 7.5 in 2010 to 2.9 in 2050, a more than 50 percent decline. Alarm bells have been going off and researchers and advocates have been busy estimating the impact on the long-term-care system. Read More …

5 Things You Should Be Doing Before Bed

Sleeping at Desk

By Sandy Getzky

Not getting enough rest? If your mind has trouble settling down at night, you can easily end up tossing and turning instead of getting much needed sleep. Instead of worrying about an argument you had with a co-worker or what to do about that stubborn nail fungus problem, focus on helping your mind calm down for the night. Here are five things you should do before you go to bed each night.

1. Stay Away From Electronics

Spend a couple hours before bedtime with a good book instead of staring at your TV, phone or laptop screen. These electronic items can be very distracting and stimulate your brain. The light from the screen can also make it more difficult for your brain to enter sleep mode. In addition to avoiding screen time, keep the lights in your bedroom or living room dim. Read More …

The Truth about Sleep Debt

Forbes logoFrom The Good and Bad News About Your Sleep Debt (Forbes, 2/23/20145)

Sleep, science tells us, is a lot like a bank account with a minimum balance penalty. You can short the account a few days a month as long as you replenish it with fresh funds before the penalty kicks in. This understanding, known colloquially as “paying off your sleep debt,” has held sway over sleep research for the last few decades, and has served as a comfortable context for popular media to discuss sleep with weary eyed readers and listeners.

The question is — just how scientifically valid is the sleep debt theory?Read More …

It’s Time to Take Care of Yourself

Screenshot 2014-01-20 19.40.50By Mary Ross, Health & Wellness Expert

The stress of being a loved one’s caregiver can be overwhelming. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of family caregivers reported a decline in their own health since care began. They also reported that this decline affected the quality of care they gave, and that they put their care recipient’s needs over their own and didn’t go to the doctor or have time to take care of their own needs. This stress can cause caregivers to become depressed, exhausted or ill. There is even a name for a caregiver whose health starts to deteriorate due to the stress of their responsibilities: caregiver syndrome. If you’re tasked with taking care of a loved one, reduce the stress and risks to your own health with these tips: Read More …

The Need & Positive Effects of Restorative Sleep

Arianna Huffington

Watch Arianna Huffington’s TED Talk below to see why it’s time to open your eyes to the need to close them.

By Wayne Caswell

Sleep deprivation has become a terrifying problem in our on-the-go society, where working more and sleeping less can be seen as a badge of honor. But even nodding off momentarily can have disastrous results, as we saw in graphic news reports of the December Bronx Metro-North train derailment

“I was in a daze,” engineer William Rockerfeller told investigators about the moments leading up to the crash. “I don’t know what I was thinking about, and the next thing I know, I was hitting the brakes.”

Sleep scientists think Rockerfeller may have slipped into what’s known as microsleep, when parts of the brain are awake and parts just doze off for a few seconds. But his momentary lack of attention before approaching a dangerous curve too fast derailed more than just the train; it also ended the lives of four people, injured more than 70 others, and probably cost Rockerfeller his career.

Short sleep, or getting less than 6 hours when 7-9 hours is recommended, drastically dampens our attentiveness and reaction times, as well as our health overall. While I’ll describe the negative effects of Short sleep, this article is really about the positive benefits of Restorative sleep, and it concludes with an excellent speech on the topic by Arianna Huffington. I hope it motivates you to add a New Years’ resolution — get more sleep. Read More …

Broadening our Perspective on Health & Wellness

Sleep - from Disney-Clipart.comDr. David Nash wrote an interesting article on KevinMD.com, noting “an unprecedented groundswell of interest in health and wellness — and the corresponding emergence of a Wellbeing Economy.” He described the Wellbeing Economy as accounting for “the health, social, and economic factors that affect the wellbeing of individuals, countries, and the world we live in.”

Examples included wellness programs in corporations and insurance plans, new university classes & degree programs stressing wellness, new research & technology developments, public sector policies on the federal & state level, and changes in health care delivery that includes wellness programs in retail clinics. But Nash did not mention the relationship between Sleep and Wellness, so I added the following comment.

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100 Ways To Live To 100

Live to be 150

An ABC Barbara Walters Special featured five centenarians, pictured L-R: Dorothy Young, “Rosie” Ross, Lillian Cox, Barbara Walters, Dr. Karl Hartzell and Elsa Hoffmann.

Want to add more and better years to your life? Now is the time.

We’re living longer than ever: The average American born in 2013 will be alive nearly four years longer than someone born 20 years ago. But until recently, it wasn’t clear if the years we’ve added to our lives were good-quality years.

A recent study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School starts to answer that question. Researchers found that today, 25 year olds can expect to live “2.4 more years of a healthy life” and 65 year olds can look forward to 1.7 extra healthy years than people who lived two decades back.

Find out what you’re already doing right and where you can still improve in our list of 100 ways to live to 100. (This Huffington Post article expands on each of the items listed below.) Read More …

Why do we Sleep?

Sleep-o-MeterRussell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist at the University of Oxford in Cambridge. He studies sleep and its role in our lives, examining how our perception of light influences our sleep-wake rhythms.

In this TED Talk (below) Foster asks, “What do we know about sleep?”

Not much, it seems, and that’s surprising for something that occupies one-third of our lives. Foster shares three theories about why we sleep:

  1. Energy Conservation (saving calories, unlikely);
  2. Restoration of the body (yes, tied to good health); and
  3. Improving Brain Function, including memory consolidation and enhanced creativity.

He also busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health. Read More …

The Costs of Job Stress

The Costs of Job StressJOB stress only adds to a host of stressors facing unpaid family caretakers, and this all can take a toll on both your career and your health.

If you are a family caregiver, think about how much time do you spend, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Some 65 million unpaid family caregivers look after elderly or disabled loved ones, averaging 20 hours/wk. AARP did a study that put the 2009 annual burden on unpaid family caregivers at $480 billion/year, including lost worker productivity, reduced earning capacity & retirement income, and increases in their own physical & emotional health and related costs. It’s more than the $361B in Medicaid spending and nearly as much as the $509B in Medicare spending.

The infographic below, from Top10OnlineColleges.org, identifies JOB stress as a leading factor in poor health, but so is not getting enough sleep.  Of course the two are closely related. After the infographic and listed highlights (for blind people using a screen reader) are related infographics and articles on both Stress and Sleep. Enjoy, but don’t stress out. Read More …

The Healing Effects of Color, Light and Art

SHADOWS JOURNEY_by Leanne Venier_ScreenSaver

Click for full size image of this painting by Leanne Venier and download as a screen saver.

I met Leanne Vanier a few months ago and found that she had a very interesting perspective of the healing effects of color, light and art. I connected with that concept because of previous articles I wrote on How Light Effects Melatonin and Sleep and How Light from Electronics Effects Sleep. Then I found her lecture on YouTube in three-parts. All three are embedded here with my summary notes.

PART-1

Leanne describes how our bodies absorb and use different light frequencies and the latest scientific research on medical applications of color and light for treating cancer and other illnesses. In one example, she described using bright sunlight or blue light therapy on newborn babies with jaundice. Another example was about soldiers whose war wounds heal faster in natural open-air sunlight.  Read More …

Redefining Success – The Third Metric

Redefining Success, The Third MetricJust 30% of full time workers are engaged at work, while half are uninspired, and another 30% simply “roam the halls” spreading discontent. Some call this presenteeism. Either way, there’s a personal and economic cost.

A Huffington Post article and infographic (below) encourages us to re-think what success means and reassess our priorities, possibly leading to jobs that we really WANT to be doing.

According to Arianna Huffington, “We’ve all bought into this male definition of success, money and power, and it’s not working. It’s not working for men, and it’s not working for women. It’s not working for anyone.”

Update: That was also the message of her TED Talk on The Need & Positive Effects of Restorative Sleep and her new book, THRIVE.

That’s where their Third Metric infographic comes into play. After the graphic I list some of the key points, as well as related statistics from a similar infographic on sleep. That way, blind people using screen readers can “see” the data too.

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Is Your Glass Half Empty, or Half Full?

Is your glass Half Empty, or Half Ful?Can your attitude affect your health?

YES. According to this article and most of the studies I found, optimism appears to be good for your health and pessimism seems to be bad. But I also found one study that suggested the opposite – that people who are overly optimistic about their future actually faced greater risk of disability or death within 10 years than did those pessimists who expected their future to be worse. So I guess the question about the glass being half full or half empty still depends on your perspective.

Optimism about the Future

This week I was one of several presenters giving short talks to the World Future Society about what makes us optimistic about the future. Rather than rant about health reform, as I often do, I chose instead to talk about BIG Broadband and Google’s choice of Austin for its next gigabit fiber network, Kansas City being their first. I spoke of the applications enabled by Internet access that’s more than 100 times faster than what we currently have, how it enables exciting new applications and innovations in telehealth, telework, distance learning, e-commerce, e-government, and more.

But this article takes a different spin, with text provided by Anne Boysen, one of the other speakers. Her interesting approach fits nicely with the half empty / half full question, because she looks at several trends that bring out the pessimist in us, followed by balancing trends that give us hope.
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