This blog was written by Melissa Sherman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
As the first wave of baby boomers are turning 65 this year, there is a rush to the finish line in the technology field to see who can come up with the best ideas to keep elders healthy, happy, and in their own homes.
With the array of senior-living care available between group housing, nursing homes, and assisted-living establishments, you may be wondering what the importance of keeping seniors in their homes might be, but experts now believe that quality of life for seniors is significantly better when they are able to stay in their own homes. This is not to mention much cheaper for society keeping them at home is than these senior-living homes or institutions.
Studies are being conducted by the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology at Oregon Health and Science University in order to come up with new ideas and technology to keep elders in their homes without jeopardizing their safety and health. The research lab in Oregon includes a model home with all the latest gadgets, such as motion sensors along hallways and ceilings to record gait and walking speed, a back door monitor to observe when one leaves the house, a refrigerator monitor to keep tabs on how one is eating, and even a bed that assesses breathing patterns, heart rate, and general sleep quality. Some other gadgets include a pill box with electronic switches that records when medication is taken. In the works are several other items such as software to help dementia patients find their way home if they get lost, devices that interpret facial expressions, and robotic "pets" that have lifelike interactions with seniors.
There is still much to be done, though, and many hills to climb before you will see this technology on the shelves. Families would have to spend several hundred dollars or more to get these sensors, and monthly monitoring fees can top $100, with little to no help from insurance or Medicaid. However, if these new devices can help keep seniors happier and healthier, as well as help to save society money in the long run, why shouldn’t we all have the opportunity to spend our golden years right where we have always belonged: “home sweet home”?
This blog was written by Dan Walker. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
The numerous benefits of strength training for the musculoskeletal system are well documented, but could it provide additional benefits? Besides leading to increased strength and muscle endurance, better balance, and improved health of the muscles and connective tissue, what effect could it have on cognitive function, if any? Researchers in Canada recently set out to determine just that.
Strength Training Sharpens the Mind
While we all could use a little more brain power, it is crucial for older adults to maintain a high level of cognitive functioning to keep their independence. Regular strength training can help them do this from a physical standpoint, but maintaining their cognitive abilities is equally important. Interestingly enough, a loss in cognitive abilities is a risk factor for falls.
Fortunately, though, the “Brain Power Study” found that progressive resistance training improved executive cognitive functioning (which is needed to maintain independent living) in women ages 65 to 75. And even one year later, the benefits were still notable. This makes for just one more reason for grandma and grandpa to hit the weights!
Take Advantage of Senior Wellness Programs
Many retirement communities now have a fitness center available, complete with onsite fitness center management specializing in senior fitness classes, senior wellness programs, and senior fitness management. Balance classes, strength classes, and aqua aerobics classes are just a few of the many ways to get in regular physical activity during the golden years.
It might be a little intimidating at first, but encourage the loved ones in your life who are getting older to begin a regular fitness routine that works for them. It will not only help maintain their physical health, but evidence is emerging that it can do just as much for their cognitive health.
What are some of the other ways you or your loved ones have found to keep moving, even as time goes on?