Five Safety Tips for Seniors Who Want to Start Yoga

Written by James Fleming

Exercise is important for people of all ages. However, seniors, in particular, need to make regular movement a priority.

Currently, only 28-34 percent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 are physically active and only 35-44 percent of seniors over the age of 75 are physically active.

If you’re part of the majority of seniors who don’t exercise regularly, it’s pertinent you make a change and find ways to add more activity to your life. Regular exercise will help you maintain muscle mass and bone density and avoid balance issues that could lead to falls and injuries.

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for seniors, especially seniors who haven’t exercised in a while.

Before you head to your first yoga class, you need to make safety a priority. It’s very easy for beginners to be a little overzealous in their first class and push themselves too far. Be sure to keep these five safety tips in mind. They’ll help you avoid injuries and get the most out of your yoga practice.

  1. Find a Beginner-Friendly Class

Finding a yoga class is just like finding any other type of fitness class. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and certain instructors and styles will be better for you than others.

For seniors who are new to yoga, a beginner-friendly class is a must. Most yoga studios and gyms will clarify on their schedule whether or not a specific class is good for beginners.

You can also talk to the instructor before the class starts and let them know that you’re new. They will keep an eye on you and show you how to modify specific poses, or they might suggest a different class that better suited for you.

  1. Understand Basic Alignment

Before you go into any yoga class, even a beginner-friendly one, it’s helpful to understand some basic information about proper alignment. Every pose is different, but the following guidelines will apply to just about everyone who practices yoga:

  • Keep the knees in line with the second toes — don’t let them rock inward or outward.
  • Keep your weight in your heels when the knees are bent and toward the toes when legs are straight.
  • Keep a small bend in your knees and elbows at all times to avoid locking them out.
  1. Modify Poses as Much as You Need

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with modifying a pose. Don’t hesitate to put your knees down in a plank or use a bolster or pillow when doing seated poses like sukasana.

You might feel a bit awkward modifying specific poses is no one else seems to be, but remember that you’re there at yoga for yourself, not for them. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing — it matters that you feel safe and comfortable during your practice.

  1. Use the Right Equipment

Using the right yoga equipment can help you feel more comfortable and more secure during your first class. Some basic pieces of equipment that everyone should have on hand include:

  • Yoga mat
  • Yoga blocks
  • Yoga strap
  • Blanket or bolster

You can also use special pieces of equipment like wrist wraps or a knee brace. These tools can give your joints some extra support and make it easier for you to practice without feeling any pain or discomfort.

  1. Know How to Spot Red Flags

You shouldn’t experience any pain while practicing yoga. You might feel uncomfortable at times, but if anything hurts, you should skip it.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if the sensations you’re experiencing are par for the course or something about which you should be concerned.

There are some specific red flags you need to look out for during your yoga practice, including the following

  • Sharp, shooting pains
  • Numbness, or tingling in your limbs
  • Intense sensations deep in the joint

Another good rule of thumb is to check and see if you can smile and breathe steadily while doing a specific pose. If you can maintain a smile and a consistent breathing pattern, you’re probably on the right track. If breathing becomes difficult and you’re grimacing in pain, it’s time to back off.

Are You a Caregiver Seeking Peace of Mind? These Tools Can Help

Written by Nurse Susan

Are you a retired adult helping to care for an aging parent or sick spouse? You’re not alone. In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that of the over 40 million adults in the U.S. currently providing care for a family member, 34% are over the age of 65. Family caregivers take on responsibilities including providing transportation to appointments, refilling prescriptions, even administering medicine and helping with bathing, dressing, and toileting.

If you provide care for an aging parent or sick spouse, check out these helpful tools that may help bring you and your loved one peace of mind:

Medical Alert System

Have you considered installing a medical alert system in the home of the person for whom you care? Depending on their age and health condition, your loved one’s care needs can vary. If they have experienced any of the following in the past year, however, a medical alert system may be a helpful investment.

  • Frequent dizziness
  • Stumbling or falling (even if they didn’t injure themselves)
  • Medicine side effects like low blood pressure or drowsiness
  • Difficult walking or standing without assistance
  • Hospitalization (or a trip to the E.R.)
  • One or more chronic conditions (i.e. arthritis, diabetes, dementia)

Medical alert systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from free-standing machines that sit on a countertop or desk, to wearable pendants you take with you on the go. As a caregiver, you can always be ready to take quick action to help your loved one in the event of an emergency when they have access to a system that signals for help at the press of a button.

Digital “Baby Monitor”

Technological innovation has made keeping an eye on your loved one easier than ever. Digital monitors which are traditionally used in nurseries to keep an eye (and ear) on infants can also be repurposed for your loved one. While on the pricier end, these devices allow you to set up a camera in your loved one’s room which streams a live video feed for you on your smartphone or other mobile device.

Some monitors even let you move the camera around and up and down as well as speak through the device to your loved one or play music. Check in on them when you are out running errands or right before bed to make sure they are sleeping.

Social Media

This may not seem like a “tool” but you would be surprised all the resources and help you can find simply be connecting with other caregivers and organizations online. Private Facebook groups like Caregiver Collective and Caregiver Hub Support Group allow caregivers to share their stories, frustrations, and questions with each other in a judgment-free zone. And following groups like the National Council on Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance on facebook and twitter keeps you up-to-date on resources, policy changes, and events which may benefit your loved one’s care. Getting on social media is free and with advanced privacy settings you can easily control who you engage with.

Fall Mats

While you can take extra measures to prevent falls in your loved one’s home, the fact is if they are elderly, and especially if they have motor impairment like you find with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, they are at a high risk for experiencing a fall. Many falls lead to serious injury in older adults, including hospitalization and life-threatening bone fractures or head trauma. In the event of a fall, you want to do everything possible to mitigate the severity of their impact with the ground.

Fall mats provide a helpful solution here, adding padding to the floor of commonly used areas like by the couch in the living room or by the bed in the bedroom. In addition to cushioning the blow of a fall, some fall mats are also designed to alert caregivers when they pick up on an impact like a person falling.

Knowing your loved one is safe and well whether you are present with them or not will always help to ease up on the stress and anxiety a caregiver naturally experiences. Simple tools like digital video monitors and fall mats can go a long way in providing peace of mind and a happier overall care experience.

5 Helpful Tools for Hearing Loss

Written by Nurse Susan

If you’re a senior coping with hearing loss, you’re not alone. In fact, an estimated 25% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, with that number growing to 50% of adults 75 and older. While advancements in technology have developed hearing aids that are smaller, sleeker, and more efficient, they aren’t necessarily the absolute fix many seniors are looking for and they can often be expensive and require more maintenance than you might expect. Support your hearing with additional helpful tools including:

Phone Amplifiers

Talking on the phone can pose a serious challenge for someone with hearing loss, from fuzzy connections to poor volume quality. Staying connected and maintaining regular communication with friends and family is key, however, to senior health outcomes. A phone speaker amplifier helps to solve this problem by offering an easy and portable way for seniors to ramp up the volume of the person they are speaking to on the phone. Some amplifiers also generate a digital text transcription of your ongoing conversation and let you adjust tones for even greater sound quality.

Live Video Chat

What’s even better than chatting over the phone? Chatting via live video feed with a friend or family member where you can both hear and see them (and read their lips). Free, online services like Skype and Google+ Hangout offer you the ability to call your friends and loved ones over WiFi from your computer or digital devices, as do apps for smartphones and tablets like Facetime (iOS/Apple products only).

Helpful Hearing Apps

If you need a little extra help with recognizing sounds around you, there are loads of apps you can download to your digital device to assist you. Apps like Braci Smart Ear, My Ear Droid, Tap Tap and Otosense use sound recognition software to detect sounds around you (phone call, doorbell, smoke alarm, etc) and alert you with visual and vibrating aids on your smartphone. A different app called BioAid enhances sound clarity and adjusts ambient noise volume through the microphone on your smartphone, delivering clearer sound real-time to you through headphones.

Voicemail to Text Services

Voicemails are notoriously hard to hear, especially if the person who left them was standing in a crowded or loud environment when they did. Save yourself the trouble of trying to make out their every word by using voice-to-text tools. You may have already received an offer for a voicemail-to-text subscription from your phone provider, however, there are apps like VoxSciences that facilitate this helpful service too. When someone leaves you a voicemail, these tools transcribe it into text which is either messaged to you on your smartphone or sent via email.

Sound Box

Just as you can amplify the sound from your own phone, so can you do the same thing for your TV. With a portable sound box, you can wirelessly amplify the sound from your TV wherever you are – in your bedroom, in the living room, etc. You no longer have to worry about turning up the TV volume so high that it bothers the people watching with you. Simply set your sound box down beside you and count on a louder, clearer-sounding experience.

So where can you find these assistive hearing gadgets and gizmos? Look online, at your local pharmacy, or even in big box stores like Walmart or Target. And for apps, simply visit the app store on your smartphone or tablet (iTunes App store for Apple users, Google Play store for Android users) – or ask your kids or grandkids to help you!