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calendar icon 14 April, 2016

The Ten Biggest Fears of Senior Living, Resolved

If you believed everything that society told us about senior living, you’d think that senior living is a place the elderly go when they have no more options and can no longer care for themselves. How dismal! Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the often-perpetuated myths about senior living are false. By debunking these myths, seniors can understand more fully what senior living means and how it can benefit them.

What is Senior Living?

Senior living facilities are places where seniors can live with as much or as little assistance a they want or need. While senior living facilities do indeed provide a whole host of essential care services, they also provide fun, companionship, stimulation, and exposure for active seniors from all walks of life. Options included in most senior living facilities include independent living, assisted living, nursing care, rehabilitation, and more!

The Ten Biggest Fears About Senior Living

While many seniors appreciate the benefits offered to them by senior living, not everyone fully understands these facilities or what they offer. If you or your loved one has concerns about moving into a senior living facility, read on for our answers to the top ten concerns about senior living:
  1. Senior living means I’ll lose my independence

Many people believe that moving into a senior living facility is akin to giving their freedom away on a silver platter. Fortunately, this isn’t true. There are many different options available to seniors who chose to move into a senior living facility. People who choose the assisted living option, for example, will get help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, or whatever else they may need. Seniors who choose independent living will enjoy their own apartment with no help, unless they need it down the road. The entire goal of senior living is to support seniors at all life stages. Because of this, the assistance offered ranges from light cleaning to intensive rehabilitation care. Older people in senior living will never receive help they don’t need and won’t have to worry about being infantilized or coddled.
  1. Senior living is lonely

One of the biggest myths surrounding senior living is that it is an isolating experience. People worry that moving to a senior living facility means that they’ll sacrifice all of their relationships and lose interaction with their friends and family. While this is an understandable fear, it’s not altogether rooted in reality. Senior living facilities support interaction with friends and family and provide a whole host of opportunities for new relationships to form. Seniors living in senior living facilities will enjoy community events, classes, social hours, and educational opportunities that allow them to meet other seniors while also enjoying a comfortable living space where they can entertain their pre-existing friends and family. While seniors worry about isolation in senior living, many people find that their social lives become more active when they move into a senior living facility.
  1. Senior living is unaffordable

It’s true that senior living can be a large financial burden. It’s also true that there are dozens of financial options to help seniors afford senior living. From Social Security to VA benefits, there are scores of ways to make the cost of senior living more manageable. Additionally, seniors can choose from a variety of senior living programs – some elaborate and some more simple – to fit their budgets and their lifestyles. While senior living is often regarded as the most expensive care option, it’s important to consider that, in many cases, it’s less expensive than staying at home and hiring full-time in-home care.
  1. Senior living will make me age prematurely

While many people worry that moving to a senior living community makes them “old,” the opposite is often true. Between the activities available at a senior living community to the customized care intrinsic in the structure of these facilities, it’s completely possible to look and feel younger than ever while also enjoying the enhanced ease, social activity, and free time a senior living community offers. Senior living facilities aren’t a trap for the aging – they’re a way to increase a senior’s quality of life across the board.
  1. I can’t trust the senior living staff

Many seniors considering senior living worry about the competence and trustworthiness of the staff. They may also worry that their children will just drop them off in this strange place and that their care will be totally unmonitored from then on out. Fortunately, this isn’t true. The fact of the matter is that senior living facilities are meant to make seniors comfortable. If you’re not comfortable with your caregivers, something is wrong. Good senior living facilities are run by professional senior care personnel that care deeply about the health and well-being of the residents and legitimate senior communities pride themselves on improving the happiness and quality of life for their residents. Seniors who are concerned about the staff at a new facility should make this clear to their family members, and close contact should be maintained during the first few weeks of care.
  1. I won’t have control over my own life

Many seniors confuse the schedule of a senior living community with that of basic training or boot camp! While it’s true that there are plenty of activities to take part in, it’s important to remember that they’re all voluntary. Nobody is going to force a senior at a senior living facility to take part in arts and crafts if they don’t want to and many seniors live in senior living communities while maintaining the patterns and habits of their regular lives. As a senior ages, it’s possible that their need for care will increase. In this case, a senior living facility may be the best choice for both the senior and his or her family. It’s important to remember, however, that senior living facilities respect the autonomy of their clients and aren’t on a mission to force people into abandoning their daily routines and habits.
  1. I’ll be bored

While many seniors worry about being bored in a senior living facility, they need only to talk to the people who already live there to understand this isn’t a genuine threat. Senior living facilities take the happiness of their residents seriously, which is why they offer such a wealth of activities. It’s not uncommon for a senior living facility to provide field trips, hair salons, language classes, social hours, games, cooking classes, or therapy animal sessions. More likely than note, a senior living facility exposes seniors to more activities then they’d have access to in their own homes!
  1. Family won’t visit in a senior living facility

While many seniors worry that their friends and family will forget about them in a senior living facility, the opposite is often true. The fact is that older people in assisted living communities often have more time on their hands and enjoy more time with their friends and family than they did before. Plus, many senior living facilities do special family days that encourage a senior’s children, siblings, or other family to visit and participate in fun activities.
  1. Senior living means I’ll have to give up my taste

Many seniors worry that living in a senior living facility means they’ll have to renounce their ability to decorate or manage their own homes. While additional assistance is available to those who need it, the purpose of a senior living facility is not to rob a senior of his or her personality or style. Seniors are encouraged to decorate their living spaces they way they’d like to and are encouraged to continue participating in the things they love.
  1. I’ll have a hard time integrating into senior living

Many seniors worry that they won’t make friends or fit in in a senior living community. While adjusting to a new way of life can be difficult, many seniors find that they enjoy a senior living community and become more comfortable with the new pattern over time. While it’s unfair to say the transition will be seamless, most seniors find actually enjoy living in a senior living facility. While seniors may feel many fears surrounding the concept of senior living, many seniors truly enjoy their transition to a senior community. From providing assistance with daily chores to helping seniors meet new friends and be more active, there are many benefits to senior living facilities and many seniors find that these communities improve their happiness and quality of life.  
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calendar icon 29 March, 2016

12 Secrets to Living a Long, Healthy Life

Most people visualize themselves aging gracefully and living a long, healthy life filled with good friends, family, and plenty of activity. While this is something that many people dream of, it’s far from being a fantasy. The fact is, many seniors do it. So what’s their secret? How do these people enjoy all of the benefits of old age while maintaining good health and a happy state of mind? Here are their top twelve secrets:

1. Avoid Stress

Stress is a common factor in dozens of chronic diseases and conditions. According to a 2015 study conducted by the University of California – San Francisco, women suffering from chronic stress have significantly depleted levels of Klotho, a hormone that can help protect the body and brain from aging. An earlier study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2012, found that people who are under lots of stress are at a 20% increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Because of this, avoiding stress as much as possible is one of the best ways to live a happy, healthy life for many years. While it’s impossible to cut stress out of life entirely, it is possible to cope with it better by learning stress-management techniques, like meditation, and doing healthy things like going for a walk, cooking, or meeting with friends when you feel stressed.

2. Maintain a Healthy Social Life

You knew that your friends made you feel happy, but did you know that they can help you live longer, too? Multiple studies have found that being alone as you age is a significant risk factor in everything from premature death to heart disease and stroke. Because of this, it’s wise to ensure that you maintain a healthy, active social life as you get older. Doing this will not only protect you from depressive symptoms – but it will also help guard your brain against symptoms of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

3. Exercise

If there were a fountain of youth, it would look a whole lot like a daily walk or run. Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind fit as you age. In addition to helping you avoid chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, daily exercise can also help increase mood-boosting hormones in the brain and will contribute to keeping your body fit, healthy, and capable throughout your golden years. Additionally, exercise is a fantastic way to meet new people, stay engaged in a community, and continue learning new things.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to make a difference in your community and give back to a cause that you believe in. It’s also one of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy your golden years as much as possible. Studies have shown that people who have a higher sense of purpose – either through faith, religion, or community service – live longer than people who don’t. While there are no “one-size fits all” rules for determining how and when you give back, it’s clear that getting involved in something bigger than yourself is one of the best ways to stay active, engaged, and passionate as you age. In light of this, it’s wise to get involved in something you believe in. It doesn’t matter if this is a church, a volunteer organization, or a faith-based community. Simply pick something you’re passionate about and dedicate some time to it. While this may not seem like it has a direct correlation with your longevity and happiness, it’s more important than many people believe.

5. Find Someone to Love

Did you know that being half of a partnership can help you live a longer, healthier life? Whether you’re married or you simply have a sweetie you enjoy spending time with, finding someone to love can significantly reduce your risk of premature death. A 2013 study conducted by Duke University Medical Center and published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that of 4,802 people, those who were married were far less likely to die prematurely. While researchers still aren’t exactly sure why this is true, many believe that having a partner helps reduce stress and provide a source of support, which makes life more enjoyable.

6. Eat Well

It’s impossible to be truly healthy unless you eat a healthy diet. People who eat ample amounts of wheat, rye, barley and other whole grains enjoy longer lives than those who don’t. The reason for this is that these foods offer nutrients called polyphenols, which can help reduce the risk of early mortality, protect brain health, and decrease the possibility of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes. To ensure maximum health, ensure that you’re eating a proper mix of nutrients, including plenty of leafy greens, vegetables, protein, and fiber.

7. Sleep Enough

Sleeping well is associated with much more than just waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – it’s also related to living a long, healthy life. According to one study conducted by the University of California – San Diego, people who sleep seven hours each night lived significantly longer than people who slept less than five hours or more than eight hours each night. Because of this, it’s wise to prioritize sleep in your quest for overall well-being. In addition to helping you feel healthier and more alert, getting the right amount of sleep each night will help protect you from early death and can contribute to guarding against cognitive decline and other age-related symptoms.

8. Participate in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Time and time again, studies have found that people who have a sense of spirituality or faith live longer than those who don’t. While you don’t need to pray your way to longevity (if that’s not your thing), it is healthy to participate in a cause you believe in – be it a church, spiritual community, or volunteer organization. These things can all go a long way toward decreasing depressive symptoms, mitigating the risk of chronic conditions, and helping people feel more connected to and happy within their communities.

9. Avoid Overeating

In addition to helping you avoid dangerous weight gain, avoiding the temptation to overeat can also help you enjoy a longer, healthier life. According to a 2008 study conducted by University of St. Louis researchers, eating until you’re roughly 80% full can help you age slower. The reason for this is that limiting calories, even moderately, helps decrease the production of a thyroid hormone known as T3. This boosts your metabolism and slows down the aging process.

10. Stay Away from Too Much TV

Watching too much television is a surefire way to suffer from decreased health and limited longevity. According to one 2010 study, people who watch more than four hours a day of television are 46% more likely to die from any cause than their counterparts who watched less than two hours each day. With this in mind, pick up a good book rather than tuning into re-runs the next time you have a quiet day.

11. Wear Sunscreen

In addition to helping you avoid the risk of skin cancer, avoiding excess sun can help keep your skin looking young and healthy. While enjoying the sun is an important part of a healthy life, be sure to slather on the SPF the next time you hit the beach with your family or friends. Even if you’ve never been a sunscreen wearer, it’s never too late to start adopting good habits.

12. Enjoy Limited Amounts of Alcohol

While there’s no question that consuming too much alcohol can have disastrous health effects, studies have found that small quantities of alcohol can actually have protective health benefits. One drink a day (an 8 oz. serving of wine or beer) can help keep your heart healthy and your brain sharp. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to enjoy a nice glass of vino with dinner. A long, healthy life is something that virtually everyone wants and, fortunately, it’s not that difficult to obtain. By practicing good habits in diet, exercise, and sleep and maintaining an active social and community life, you can ensure that you enjoy your golden years from a standpoint of good health and longevity.
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calendar icon 16 March, 2016

Why Caregivers Must Care for Themselves, Too

Every caregiver knows the feeling of coming home at the end of the day entirely burned out. Maybe you sit down on the kitchen floor and eat cold cereal directly from the box for dinner or maybe you simply get into the shower and cry from exhaustion and stress. While these reactions aren’t uncommon, they also aren’t entirely healthy. While there’s no doubt that caregiving is a stressful and emotionally demanding job and that some strife is unavoidable, there’s also no doubt that one of the most important things caregivers can do is care for themselves. When a caregiver burns out as a result of improper or inadequate self-care, he or she has nothing left to give to clients. This results in poor client care and a risk of missing important warning signs. Additionally, burnt-out caregivers are at a high risk of becoming resentful of their jobs and leaving this all-important field altogether. Fortunately, caregivers who focus on providing themselves with positive self-care can continue to serve clients well for many years to come.

Self-Care 101: Four Reasons Caregivers Need to Tend to Themselves

While it’s critically important for caregivers to be aware of the importance of self-care, the concept is a foreign one to most people in the helping professions. Typically, caregivers are incredibly dedicated to their clients and it’s very easy to push through the days without giving much thought to the state of one’s own body or mind. Unfortunately, this inevitably ends in disaster for the caregiver. Here are the four main reasons self-care is so critically important for caregivers:

1. Caregiving is a health risk.

Study after study has proven that caregiving puts a person’s personal health at risk. More than 60% of caregivers suffer from some level of clinical depression, a large majority take prescription medications for anxiety disorders, and most caregivers are incredibly reluctant to slow down or get help.

2. Most caregivers are caregivers at home and at work.

75% of all caregivers in the U.S. are women who also have families and spouses of their own to support. Some caregivers are adults taking care of aging parents and some are adults who also tend to adult children in need of extra assistance.

3. Caregiving is a source of intense stress.

Hard days, late nights, and early mornings all add up to create a stressful environment for the caregiver. Unfortunately, stress is a factor in the majority of serious diseases and, left unchecked, stress has the potential to have a grave negative impact on a caregiver’s life.

4. It’s impossible to be a good caregiver without self-care.

You’ve likely heard the saying “You can’t give anyone water if the well is dry” and there is no profession in which this is truer than caregiving. In order to be a quality caregiver day in and day out, it’s important to ensure that the well of emotional and mental health is full on a daily basis

Filling the Well: Six Things Caregivers can do to Ensure Self-Care

1. Seek Support.

Most of us have grown up in a culture that tells us we’re weak if we ask for help. Unfortunately, this is untrue and damaging. Being a caregiver means learning to seek support in whatever way that resonates with you – be it the emotional support of prayer or a church group, the physical support of weekly massages, or the mental support of talking to close friends and family members. There are also dozens of web-based and in-person caregiver support groups around the country that can help caregivers cope with the stress and demands of their jobs in a healthy and productive way. No matter how you choose to seek support, doing so is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your personal health.

2. Allow for comfort.

You take care of other people all day so it’s important to take care of yourself sometimes, too. One of the best ways to do this is to allow ample room each week for something you find comforting. This could be reading a favorite book, watching inspirational videos, cooking and enjoying a favorite meal, or spending time with a loved one. These moments of comfort are incredibly important for replenishing emotional reserves and keeping stress at bay.

3. Address the guilt.

Most caregivers feel a huge amount of guilt at not being able to “fix” everything. This is exacerbated by the fact that most caregivers provide care to people with significant physical or mental difficulties for whom no cure is available. While the care the caregiver provides is important in helping these individuals live quality, dignified lives, it’s often difficult for the caregiver to rectify the fact that they can’t ultimately heal their clients or take the sickness away. Additionally, caregivers may also feel huge amounts of guilt for not being able to be the perfect child, parent, spouse, or employee. Caregivers also feel guilty when they get angry, resentful, or frustrated with clients. Part of self-care is learning to cope with this guilt in a healthy way. While all caregivers experience some level of guilt, the way it is dealt with has a large impact on mental and emotional health. Many caregivers see a counselor for support while others turn to prayer or religious communities for assistance coping. Reaching out to friends and family members may also be helpful.

4. Set boundaries.

A lack of boundaries is one of the most common reasons caregivers feel strung-out and overworked. While most caregivers give everything they have while on the job, it’s important to be able to set boundaries once the working day is over. While this practice looks different for everyone, common methods include not checking your cell phone or email while at home with the family, keeping work topics at work, designating one day to fully leave your cell phone at home and unplug, or refusing to take on more than you know you can handle. Setting boundaries takes practice but, over time, setting boundaries and knowing your own limits can become two of the most powerful defenses against resentment and burnout.

5. Take care of your body.

It’s impossible to be good at anything or healthy in any way if you’re not taking care of your body. From getting enough sleep and drinking enough water to making space on a daily basis for exercise, physical care is the foundation from which everything else springs. With that in mind, carry a water bottle with you to work and be sure to drink at least two liters each day (a great mental guideline is one liter before breakfast and one before dinner). Additionally, you should be sure to make space for some form of physical activity on a daily basis, be it a yoga class or a walk with your dog. Make time for regular health checkups and be sure to take a break if you feel yourself getting sick, run down, or excessively exhausted. While this may be difficult to do in the moment, it will pay off in the long run in the form of more resilient health and an increased capacity to cope with the difficulties of the job.

6. Take breaks.

Even if you absolutely love your job as a caregiver, taking breaks is a huge piece of self-care. Allow yourself to take a vacation every year and make time on a regular basis for mini-vacations – either in the form of a day off here and there or a lunch break during which you go outside, sit in the sun, read a book, and don’t take work calls or emails. These things, while they may seem simple, are hugely important for preventing you from becoming overwhelmed and unhappy.

Conclusion

While caregiving is one of the most demanding jobs in the world, it’s also one of the most rewarding. Most caregivers love their jobs and these self-care tips can help ensure that you stay healthy, happy, functional, and helpful for many years to come.
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calendar icon 7 March, 2016

World War II Air Force Veteran Celebrates His 98th Birthday

Dan Moracarco, a World War II Air Force Veteran, celebrated his 98th birthday with his home health care aides from Community Home Health Care. “We wanted to celebrate this big occasion with Dan, so we decided to bring the party to him”, said Brenda Schwartz, Director of Public Relations for Community Home Health Care. Dan Moracarco, a World War II Air Force Veteran with his wife Marie celebrating his 98th birthday with his home health care aides from Community Home Health Care Born on February 28, 1918 in Bronx, NY, Dan joined the Air Force at the age of 24 and was stationed with the 8th Division in England from 1942 through 1945. Dan achieved the rank of Drill Sergeant. Upon his return to the States, Dan worked in the Garment District for over 40 years. At the age of 40, Dan was introduced to his Wife, Marie, by a mutual friend, and they married in 1958. After retirement, Dan and Marie were fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii, Italy, among other countries. They currently reside at the Drum Hill Senior Living Center in Peekskill, NY where they enjoy living in the comfort of their own home. Community Home Health Care has been providing services to the Moracarco’s for the past 2 years. Community Home Health Care provides services in Rockland, Orange, Westchester, Sullivan, Dutchess, Ulster and Putnam Counties. For additional information, please visit www.old.commhealthcare.com. Dan Moracarco, a World War II Air Force Veteran, celebrated his 98th birthday with his home health care aides from Community Home Health Care  
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calendar icon 3 March, 2016

The Truth About the “Grumpy Old People” Stereotype

We’ve all heard the stereotype and seen the videos, movies, and images that reinforce it: a grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn or a mean old lady living alone in a huge, creepy house on the hill. While these images are undoubtedly part of our cultural fabric, they’re also an unfortunate series of myths that is perpetuated on a regular basis. If we’re being honest, most of us have believed the “Grumpy Old People” stereotype at one point or another and many of us may still believe it today. As it turns out, however, this stereotype is unfair and untrue. In recent years, research has come to light that suggests that, despite what our cultural norms may tell us, aging individuals often become happier and more open as they age rather than becoming angry and closed-off. Here’s what you need to know.

Where the “Grumpy Old Person” Stereotype Falls Short

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, it’s not at all uncommon for seniors to become more trusting, more open, more positive, and generally happier as they age. The researchers behind the study concluded that these findings were the result of the fact that seniors are more willing to trust other people than their younger counterparts were. This, in turn, led to increased happiness levels over time. How’s that for doing away with the “You darn kids get off of my lawn!” image? In addition to making seniors happier, this increase in trust also had marked biochemical effects. Namely, seniors who were more willing to trust the people around them experienced elevated levels of oxytocin – the hormone associated with intimacy and attachment. Multiple studies have linked oxytocin with a decrease in dangerous conditions, like chronic pain, and have associated it with faster wound healing, lower stress levels, and even recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people who hear that seniors are more willing to trust other people immediately worry about seniors becoming so trusting that they place themselves at risk of elder abuse. Fortunately, studies have found that this is not overwhelmingly the case. In fact, researchers have found that trust and well-being are actually associated in a positive and mutually beneficial fashion and that trust is not ultimately a liability for aging seniors. With this in mind, it’s clear that the “Grumpy Old People” stereotype is not a fair one and that, more often than not, people become more trusting, loving, and affectionate with age. In fact, seniors are often more agreeable in terms of “The Big Five” personality traits than their younger counterparts.

Understanding The Big Five

Most modern psychological studies are based on five personality traits, known as “The Big Five.” These traits are as follows:
  • ExtroversionExtroversion refers to a person’s level of social willingness, excitability, and expressiveness.
  • Openness: Openness measures openness to new experiences, new friendships, new imaginative pursuits, and the likes.
  • Agreeableness: A person who has a high level of agreeableness is highly altruistic, trusting, and kind.
  • Conscientiousness: Conscientiousness is a term that is used to refer to a person’s overall organization capabilities, willingness to set goals, and ability to be thoughtful.
  • Neuroticism: Neuroticism refers to measurements like moodiness and instability in emotional well being, including anxiety and depression.
While the Big Five are used to evaluate psychological study participants of all ages, a National Institutes of Health study conducted in 2009 recently revealed that, while 75% of seniors (ages 60 and older) experience changes in The Big Five personality traits, the vast majority of these changes were for the better. These findings back up the Northwestern study by proving that seniors generally become more agreeable as they age. Another National Institutes of Health study took the evaluation of the Big Five one step further by looking at personality traits across all age groups on a global level. This study revealed that all cultures believe, to some extent, that young people are impatient and older people are inflexible and grumpy. The study also found that each culture evaluated was guilty of severely overstating these differences. The takeaway? While our personalities do change as we age, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that we are guaranteed to become angry or closed-off with age. This proves that the “Grumpy Old People” myth is both undeserved and unfair. While cognitive impairment and dementia can certainly change a person’s personality for the worse, most seniors experience positive rather than negative changes in personality as they age.

Where the “Grumpy Old People” Stereotype Comes From

Studies that evaluate seniors on the basis of the Big Five do consistently find one negative effect of aging: the levels of “openness” seniors display generally declines as people get older. This is likely due to a variety of factors, including decreased mobility, embarrassment about memory loss, isolation, and even illness. Because decreases in openness are fairly common, it’s likely that this is one of the things that contributes to the stereotype that seniors are unwilling to try new things or are “set in their ways.” Unfortunately, this stereotype is unfair. While many seniors are hesitant to try new things, it isn’t because they’re grumpy or mean – it’s often simply because they are experiencing some difficulty adjusting to a new life phase. While openness may decline with age, there are many things family and loved ones can do to help seniors become more open to new experiences once more. These include the following:
  • Locate a class the senior will enjoy. If a senior loved painting years ago and hasn’t done it in decades, accompanying him or her to a painting class is a great way to help the senior open up to new experiences. Often, the most difficult part of trying new things for seniors is getting over the initial hump, after which point the senior may be more than happy to go alone!
  • Providing plenty of interaction. One of the primary causes of decreased openness in seniors is isolation. As seniors become more isolated, their confidence and cognitive function begins to decline, which can make building new habits much more difficult. Ensuring daily interaction with a senior is one of the best ways to prevent this from happening.
  • Get moving. Exercise is good for everything – including a senior’s openness levels. To help the senior make new habits and meet new friends, consider helping him or her find an exercise class, such as yoga or water aerobics, that will be enjoyable.
  • Take it slow. Imagine how you would feel if someone forced you into taking a new class or hanging out with a new group of people. It would be uncomfortable, wouldn’t it? Because of this, it’s important to avoid forcing a senior into anything. Instead, take the entire process slow and be sure to respect the senior’s wishes and input as you move along.
While some seniors do certainly experience a decrease in openness with aging, the deaths of spouses, or illness, these steps can help family and loved ones encourage seniors to step out of their shells and experience life once more.

Bucking the Stereotype: How Preconceived Notions Hurt People of All Ages

Caregivers know that it’s fundamentally unfair to label an entire group of people blindly. While some seniors may be less open than others, it’s a far cry to say that all seniors are grumpy, closed-off, angry, and spiteful. It’s also blatantly untrue. Multiple studies have shown that aging individuals tend to become gentler, kinder, and more trusting with age. In light of this, it’s time to kick the “Grumpy Old Person” stereotype to the curb. When we label an entire group of people according to untrue preconceived notions, we sell all the individuals within that group short. The truth is, there are plenty of seniors who see their golden years as the perfect time to give back to the communities they love, be it through volunteer work or community service. These seniors are often bright, happy, outgoing individuals who are, unfortunately, overshadowed by undeserved stereotypes. In light of this, it’s clear that taking each senior on a case-by-case basis is the way to go. Additionally, by understanding that the seniors who do seem “Grumpy” are often suffering from difficult disorders such as dementia or depression, we can expand our compassion and begin to understand aging on a whole new level.
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calendar icon 22 February, 2016

The Truth About How Being Alone Impacts Seniors

Nobody wants to be alone. Unfortunately for many seniors, however, being alone is a reality of life. From people whose spouses have died to those with no family in the immediate area and few friends, isolation is a real issue, and it is one that can have disastrous consequences. Here’s what you need to know about the mental and emotional impacts of prolonged isolation on seniors:

What is Senior Isolation?

Senior isolation isn’t as simple as loneliness. While everyone feels lonely from time to time, seniors often experience a much longer-term and much more chronic version of this unpleasant emotion. This is because seniors often have spouses who are chronically ill or have died and, sometimes, they have little or no family in the area to help ease the emotional burden of those things. Additionally, seniors generally have decreased mobility and are typically no longer working –both of which contribute to an isolated, sedentary lifestyle that can become a breeding ground for depressive symptoms. On the same token, however, it’s important to remember that not all seniors who have given up many of their social pursuits are suffering from isolation. There is a definitive difference between people who are happy being alone and seniors who are experiencing legitimate senior isolation.

Isolation by the Numbers

According to the U.S. Census, upwards of 11 million people ages 65 or older were living alone in 2010 and those numbers have only ballooned in the years since then. Often, these seniors do not have family and friends nearby to provide care and company and their spouses have passed away. While living alone doesn’t automatically mean that a person will become isolated, it does present a huge risk for the senior in question.

Here are some recent isolation facts that may shock you:

  • Isolation increases a senior’s risk of dying from all causes. According to a study conducted in 2012, adults ages 52 and older had a higher risk of mortality when they lived alone. This is due, in large part, to a decreased social network to provide aide and fewer people to notice a decline in the senior’s condition.
  • Loneliness is dangerous for mental and emotional health. As a general rule, seniors who live alone suffer from more physical and emotional conditions than those who live with families or spouses.
  • Loneliness is a risk factor for dementia. Seniors who live alone have higher rates of cognitive decline and dementia than those who live with other people. This is due to the fact that seniors who live alone receive less cognitive stimulation and social interaction than their accompanied peers.
  • Seniors who live alone are at risk for elder abuse. Isolated seniors experience elder abuse at higher rates than their peers. This is due to the fact that there are fewer people around to notice the signs of elder abuse or to put a stop to the poor treatment.
  • Isolation rates are higher for LGBT seniors. LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) seniors are much more likely to suffer from isolation than their heterosexual peers. This is because these people are less likely to have children and may be estranged from their families-of-origin.
  • Isolation can lead to chronic illness. Seniors who live alone suffer from things like depression, chronic lung disorders, and mobility issues at much higher rates than their peers.
  • Isolated seniors believe life will only get worse. Pessimism is rampant in seniors who live alone. According to one study conducted by the National Council on Aging, seniors who lived alone were much more likely than their peers to express concern that their quality of life would only decline within the next five years. This negative outlook has a poor impact on the quality of mental and emotional health across the board.

When Living Alone Gets Dangerous

AARP reports that upwards of 90% of seniors feel strongly about living in their own homes for as long as possible. While this is an understandable desire for seniors around the country, upwards of 5 million seniors in the country right now need daily assistance with day-to-day activities, such as cooking, bathing, eating, taking medications and getting dressed. While some seniors are lucky enough to have a friend or family caregiver or a third-party in-home care aide to provide them with these services, many are not and these are the seniors who are particularly at risk. While there are many seniors who can still live alone safely, the following risk factors mean that it is no longer wise for a senior to remain uncared for:
  • Difficulty with medication management. If a senior can’t remember to take medication or routinely forgets that he or she has taken medication and takes more, that person is at severe risk of overdose and unintended consequences and side effects.
  • Forgetfulness. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, roughly 25% of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia live alone. This places the senior at huge risk as memory loss of any type enhances the likelihood of missed appointments and preventable accidents, like fires caused by stoves left on.
  • Difficulty completing the activities of daily life. If a person can no longer cook, clean, bathe, or eat without assistance, it’s no longer suitable for that person to live alone.
  • Poor nutrition. People suffering from memory loss often forget to eat. Alternately, they may forget that they have eaten and consume far too much food on a daily basis. These things place seniors at risk for malnutrition or weight gain and should be monitored closely by a third party.
  • Difficulty with finances. If a senior is having difficulty managing money to the extent that utilities are being shut off or the senior is at risk of being taken advantage of financially, it’s time for that person to live with assistance.

Reducing The Impacts of Senior Isolation

For people with a family member that may be experiencing senior isolation, there are many things that can be done to reduce the impacts. Follow these steps to get started:
  1. Understand the issue

The first step to decreasing senior isolation is to understand it. Is the person physically isolated from others because he or she lives in a remote area or is the person virtually surrounded by opportunities for social gain but simply unwilling to engage in any of them? By understanding the root cause of the isolation, you can provide better solutions. For example, if a person is physically isolated due to their living situation, it may be wise for them to move to a more populated area or to move in with family members. If a person simply doesn’t want to participate, the key may be finding an activity he or she loves.
  1. Consider alternative solutions

One thing that is often incredibly helpful for seniors who are still able-bodied and lucid is a support pet. Pet therapy has been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower anxiety rates and, if it’s an option, the families and friends of isolated seniors may consider the involvement of a well-trained therapy animal.
  1. Provide mobility

One of the leading causes of senior isolation is a lack of mobility. Many seniors don’t drive and family and friends are often too busy to act as a chauffeur service. Fortunately, there are dozens of free or low-cost senior transport services available to help seniors regain mobility. These things can go a long way toward decreasing the dangers of senior isolation.
  1. Look for volunteer opportunities

Volunteering is a fantastic way for seniors to combat the effects of isolation. By getting involved in a cause that is important to him or her, a senior can meet new people, regain social connections, and become active in a community once more.
  1. Enlist technology

Even if it’s impossible for family and friends to be near a senior at all times, technology can help reduce isolation. Studies have shown that seniors who have regular phone or Skype contact with friends and family are generally healthier and happier than their peers. In light of this, don’t be afraid to dial up grandma or grandpa for a daily phone call. In addition to being fun for both of you, it can actually help improve a senior’s health.

Conclusion

While senior isolation is a dangerous problem that affects millions of people, these five simple tips can help concerned caregivers, friends, and family reduce the symptoms and lessen the effects of loneliness. Additionally, caregivers and family members who know about the causes of senior isolation are better-equipped to respond appropriately.
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calendar icon 17 February, 2016

Debunking 20 Myths About Aging Everyone Believes

“Seniors are unable to try new things.” “As you age, your memory goes out the door.” “All seniors are lonely and depressed.” We’ve all heard them: aging myths. While they’re rampant in our culture, researchers have been waging a quiet war to take them down and provide people with the truth about aging. In light of that, here is the truth about 20 aging myths you might believe:

Myth #1: Older People Feel Old

According to a 2009 study conducted by the Pew Research Survey, the more people age “the younger they feel, relatively.” In fact, a full 60% of seniors (Ages 65 and older) state that they feel younger than their biological age. While society would tell us that seniors feel their age acutely, many seniors use their retirement as a time to explore new exercises – like Tai Chi or yoga – to pick up new hobbies, and to spend their time volunteering for causes they love. There you have it – age really is nothing but a number.

Myth #2: Seniors’ Brains Stop Working

We’ve all heard about “senior moments” and while it’s true that memory does decline with age and some seniors do experience extreme forms of cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, it’s unfair and untrue to say that all seniors become forgetful. According to a 2011 article published in Monitor on Psychology, the effects of aging on the brain have “likely been overstated by anecdotal evidence.” In fact, some seniors actually experience an increase in math abilities as they age.

Myth #3: Seniors Can’t Drive Any Longer

According to the aforementioned Pew study, 76% of people believe that most seniors are unable to drive a car. The truth is, however, that many seniors continue to drive well into their golden years and that only one in seven seniors report not being able to drive.

Myth #4: Seniors are Unable to Break Bad Habits

While many people view seniors as being stuck in their ways and immovable, the fact is that many seniors break bad habits, such as smoking or poor dietary habits, in their older years. These changes can help contribute to a more positive lifestyle on a daily basis.

Myth #5: Seniors are Unhappy

There’s a common perception that seniors are always unhappy. In fact, multiple studies have shown that happiness generally begins to increase after age 50. A study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior recently stated that people are generally the happiest they’ve ever been when they reach retirement age. While senior depression and isolation are certainly problems that some older people contend with, it’s untrue that all seniors are unhappy. Many of them are simply enjoying their families and their newfound free time!

Myth #6: Seniors are Frail and Weak

Truth: getting older puts you at risk of osteoporosis. Myth: All seniors are weak and breakable. While some seniors do struggle with bone density issues or chronic diseases, it’s easy to stay healthy and fit through a regimen of good eating habits, regular weight-bearing exercise, plenty of supplements, and a generally healthy lifestyle. With the help of these things, many seniors never develop osteoporosis.

Myth #7: Seniors Have no Family Interaction

After the kids are all grown up and gone, many seniors actually feel higher levels of happiness than many people expect. Between decreased financial burdens and increased amounts of free time, many seniors have found that the so-called “empty nest years” actually free up a great deal of space for enjoyment. Additionally, seniors often have adult children, grandchildren, and extended families to enjoy in their golden years.

Myth #8: Seniors Stop Learning

What a sad world it would be if all seniors stopped learning new things the moment they hit 65. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many seniors are incredibly invested in learning new hobbies, meeting new people, and taking up new pastimes. What’s more, a senior’s brain is well-equipped for every single one of these pursuits. According to the tenants of neuroplasticity, the human brain is always growing and changing and seniors are just as capable as anyone else of building new neural pathways and absorbing new information.

Myth #9: Seniors Isolate Themselves

While many housebound seniors do experience dangerous levels of depression and senior isolation, this is commonly regarded as the exception rather than the rule. The truth is that, through in-home care programs and assisted living facilities, seniors have access to a great deal of social programs, adult-learning classes, and fun recreational pastimes. Many seniors take great enjoyment from these things and spend their golden years leading healthy, active social lives.

Myth #10: Old Age Destroys Seniors’ Sex Lives

While some seniors suffer from decreasing libido and impotence, these are often related to preventable conditions such as diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. Because of this, many seniors who take good care of their bodies via exercise and a healthy diet enjoy healthy sex lives well into their 70s. In fact, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging reports that 60% of all seniors still enjoy regular intimate and sexual contact.

Myth #11: Genetics are Wholly Responsible for the Aging Process

While genetic factors may influence things like your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s or diabetes, the majority of aging comes down to how an individual lives his or her life. People with unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases than their healthy counterparts and things like exposure to toxins, diet, and exercise all play a role in the aging process.

Myth #12: Seniors Can’t Be Creative

According to a study conducted by George Washington University, seniors who engaged in creative pursuits such as singing took less prescription medication, suffered fewer falls, and were in better physical and mental health than their non-creative peers. Creative pursuits like painting, acting, or crafting can also help seniors feel less lonely and more positive. This just goes to show that not only can seniors be creative, but it’s also very good for them to do so.

Myth #13: Seniors are Cranky

This is commonly known as the “Grumpy Old People Stereotype” and it’s just as damaging as it is untrue. Studies have shown that seniors actually become more trusting and good-natured as they age rather than it being the other way around. Seniors who are cranky are often suffering from cognitive decline, dementia, depression, or isolation – all of which can be alleviated or lessened through regular contact with friends and loved ones and proper care.

Myth #14: Seniors are Filled with Regrets

Depending upon how you look at it, old age is a time to look back and lament what you haven’t done or it’s a time to be thankful for what you have done. Studies show that the majority of seniors choose the latter option. 45% of seniors ages 75 and older believe in the power of “counting their blessings”, which is a powerful factor in happiness, satisfaction, and gratitude that can help boost a senior’s overall outlook.

Myth #15: Seniors Are Impoverished

While it’s true that many seniors are struggling with their finances, the aforementioned Pew survey states that a full two-thirds of seniors are actually more financially secure than they were at younger ages.

Myth #16: Nobody Respects Seniors

When surveyed, 60% of seniors state that they feel more respected and less stressed than they did when they were younger. Much of this is likely due to changing societal norms and an increased focus on high-quality senior care and activity programs throughout the country.

Myth #17: The Average Lifespan is Decreasing

Currently, more than 39 million U.S. citizens are age 65 or older. This is 13% of the U.S. population – a 4% increase from the year 1900. What’s more, seniors today are actually living longer than they ever have before. This is due in large part to advances in medicine and public health programs as well as nutrition and sanitation.

Myth #18: Seniors Can’t Hold a Job

Even after retirement age has come and gone, many seniors choose to continue working for the social and emotional benefits it offers. These seniors tend to be just as productive as their younger counterparts and are often more reliable and dedicated than younger generations.

Myth #19: All Seniors Fear Death

While most seniors are aware of the inevitability of death – some more than others – very few seniors are obsessed with the idea of death. Instead, seniors often view their golden years as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends and do the things they enjoy! More often than not, the perception that seniors are obsessed with death is actually a projection by younger people onto their grandparents and senior counterparts.

Myth #20: Older Adults Are Lazy

Most seniors’ days are anything but lazy and dull. According to the aforementioned Pew survey, about one in four older adults reports engaging in vigorous exercise on a daily basis, 90% talk to family, 80% read a book, two-thirds drive a car somewhere, 40% go shopping, and just shy of half of seniors spend time in a hobby every day. Contrary to popular belief, most seniors actually enjoy busy days full of things they love.

Conclusion

While it’s natural to have questions about the aging process, it’s clear that these 20 common aging myths can now be considered debunked. While many people believe seniors are lonely, sedentary, cranky, and depressed, most people would be shocked to know that exactly the opposite is often true: seniors are often outgoing, vivacious, engaged, and happier than ever before!
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calendar icon 11 February, 2016

12 Ways Exercising Can Improve Your Mental Health

  While many people think of working out as a way to lose weight or build muscle, it actually does much more than that. Over the past 10 years, scientists have learned that exercising can actually increase brain function and provide considerable mental health benefits. So, yes, exercise helps your body stay healthy, but it benefits your mind, as well. Here’s how:

Exercise reduces stress

One of the best-known benefits of exercise is stress relief. By walking, heading to the gym, or taking a few laps at the pool, you can give yourself a serious leg-up in terms of managing physical and mental stress. This is due, in large part, to the fact that working out increases the concentration of norepinephrine, a stress-moderating chemical. This means that a good workout – be it a 30-minute walk or a few laps around the track – can dissolve existing stress and help you cope better with stress in the long run.

2. Exercise releases endorphins

Endorphins are the body’s so-called “happy chemicals.” When they’re present in our bodies in adequate amounts, they create feelings of happiness and mitigate depressive symptoms. This is one of the main reasons that doctors often recommend people suffering from anxiety or depressive disorders spend a good deal of time working out. In some cases, the endorphins released as a result of exercise can be as effective at treating depression as antidepressant medication! That said, aim to get about 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week and watch how it changes your mood.

3. Exercise boosts your confidence

While exercise may well help you lose weight and feel better about your body, it gives you a major self-esteem boost no matter what. It doesn’t matter what your weight, gender, or age is – exercising regularly boosts self-esteem and improves self-image, which can help you feel more self-worth and be happier with yourself in general.

4. Exercise is enjoyable

One of the great keys to finding a fitness program that works for you is to find one that you legitimately enjoy. Often, this means working out outside. When you take your exercise outside in the form of a hike, trail run, walk in the park, or paddle around a lake, you’ll be boosting self-confidence even more and getting the anti-depressant benefits of Vitamin D while you’re at it. Just remember to wear sunscreen!

5. Exercising can help prevent Alzheimer’s

One of the most popular benefits of exercise is that it can help protect you from cognitive decline. Degenerative diseases kill brain cells and lead to a hazy brain that doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. Fortunately, research has shown that working out can help build new brain cells and protect the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory. This, in turn, can help prevent age-related cognitive decline.

6. Exercise makes you less anxious

We all struggle with anxiety and the way that we cope with it differs. People who work out, however, may have an advantage. Research has shown that exercise is fantastic at helping manage anxiety and that doing a high-intensity exercise like interval training can actually help improve a person’s anxiety tolerance. So, the next time you’re feeling a little anxious, get out for a 20-minute walk. Chances are the difference will be immediately noticeable.

7. Exercise makes you smarter

If you’re thinking of going out for a spelling bee or challenging yourself to a game of Sudoku anytime soon, you might want to hit the gym first. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging and swimming can help the brain build new neural pathways that improve overall memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, scientists believe that a good workout helps boost brain-derived protein (BDNF) levels in the body, leading to quicker decision making and faster learning.

8. Exercise improves your memory

Having a tough time remembering where you pit your keys? It might be time to get active more often. Regular moderate exercise supports the brain in order to make learning new things easier. It does this by stimulating the hippocampus to produce new cells which aid in the building and retention of new memories.

9. Exercise moderates addictive personalities

Thousands of people in this country struggle with various addictions. From food to television, addictions come in all shapes and sizes and often the methods used to cope with addiction are less than healthy. Fortunately, there’s a better way. The substance that people become addicted to is commonly dopamine. Drugs and alcohol both produce dopamine, as can food when ingested in the proper levels. Fortunately, exercise also produces dopamine in considerable levels, which can help mitigate addictive cravings and help prevent withdrawals. Some addictions also disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms, which can lead to sleep deprivation and an exacerbation of symptoms. Exercise helps mitigate these things and produces an overall feeling of well-being.

10. Exercise helps you relax

People who exercise often generally sleep better and feel more relaxed. In fact, some studies say that working out can have the same relaxation benefits as a sleeping pill for people who struggle with insomnia. That said, if you’re feeling jittery, anxious, stressed out, or disrupted, you might want to head out for a brisk walk. Doing so can help you manage stress and feel more relaxed.

11. Exercise helps you be more productive

We all know how it feels to not check off every item on a day’s to-do list. At best, it’s an annoying feeling and, at worst, feeling unproductive can lower our self-worth and create an environment that’s ripe for self-blame. Fortunately, there’s a way around this feeling. By exercising regularly, people can boost productivity. This includes increasing prioritizing capabilities and creating more energy, both of which give you the fuel you need to power through a busy day and clear your to-do list in preparation of tomorrow.

12. Exercise helps you be more creative

If you’re looking to be the next Van Gogh, you may want to head out for a run first. Studies have shown that mild to moderate levels of exercise can help boost creativity for up to two hours after the workout is done. This is especially true when you work out outdoors. So, the next time you’re feeling like you want to create a masterpiece, head out into the woods for a walk beforehand. Doing so can help you be your most creative self.

Conclusion

We’ve always known that exercise is good for your body, but it’s becoming clear that it’s pretty beneficial for your mind, as well. Exercising can do everything from stimulating weight loss to boosting memory, increasing problem-solving capabilities, helping you get better sleep, improving creativity, and reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. While there are not many things in today’s world that truly “cure it all,” exercise may be one of them!
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calendar icon 25 January, 2016

10 Ways to Have a Happy, Healthy Relationship with Food

For many people with binge eating disorder, or similar conditions, developing a happy, healthy relationship with food is incredibly difficult. Fortunately, there are many ways to fix your relationship with food and most often, they begin by being kind with yourself and setting realistic expectations. If you’re struggling with developing a healthy relationship to food, it’s important to remember to consult your doctor accordingly. Once you’ve sought proper treatment, though, you can take a series of small, daily steps that can help transform your eating experience. If you’re struggling with food and eating, here are some simple tips to help you get to a better place:

1) Be Realistic

If you’ve developed unhealthy eating habits over the years, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. In order to set yourself up for success, you need to be realistic about what you can and cannot do. This helps you avoid disappointment borne from unrealistic expectations. By setting small daily goals (noticing when you feel full after lunch, for example), you can ensure that you begin your new relationship with food from a place of compassion and understanding.

2) Eat Mindfully

So much of unhealthy food relationships can be traced back to unmindful eating. More often than not, people eat alone, in their cars, in front of the television, or while doing something else like reading or typing. To do away with this, focus instead on eating mindfully. This means sitting down to eat, eating slowly, focusing on tasting every bite, and not doing other activities like driving or watching television when you eat. Doing this can help you recognize the physical cues that tell you when you’re full and can help you lose weight naturally.

3) Focus On Moderation Rather than Blacklisting Foods

We’re human and we know that when we’re not supposed to do something, we often want it more than ever. To avoid this and foster a healthy relationship with food, focus on enjoying everything in moderation rather than forbidding certain foods. One of the biggest steps to developing happy relationships with food is simply ensuring that you’re enjoying your favorite foods in moderation. To put this another way, if you love pasta (and there’s no medical reason you can’t eat it) enjoy it in moderation on a weekly basis rather than telling yourself you won’t eat it and then binging on it during a burst of emotional eating. This prevents you from developing dangerous food cravings and makes eating fun once more.

4) Eat Only When You're Hungry 

This seems too obvious to be true, but it’s an important tip. Many people at compulsively – meaning they eat when food is available or when other people are doing so. What’s more, some people eat more when the people around them eat larger meals. To avoid the unhealthy weight gain and blood sugar spikes this creates, focus instead on eating only when you’re physically hungry. Doing this can help you avoid emotional eating and ensure that you’re making healthy food choices.

5) Stop When You're Full

You’ve got a plate of something delicious in front of you. It’s only natural to want to eat the entire thing, right? Unfortunately, doing this can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Our bodies’ satiety signals start quiet and get louder and louder until they’re screaming at us. Unfortunately, however, many people don’t notice that they’re full until they’re uncomfortably “stuffed.” To avoid this, focus instead on paying attention to your body’s signals after every bite of food and getting to a place where you’re okay with the idea of leftovers. You don’t need to clean your plate at every meal, so focus instead on stopping when you’re full. Doing this can help you maintain a healthy weight and develop healthier eating patterns.

6) Eat Breakfast

There are several unhealthy food myths flying around the universe. One of the particularly problematic ones is that skipping meals can help you lose weight and be healthier. While it’s true that not eating breakfast may help you lose weight (in a very unhealthy way), it’s also true that people who eat breakfast on a regular basis have better memories, lower cholesterol, and higher energy levels. They also typically weigh less than people who skip breakfast. With this in mind, it’s important to begin your day with a healthy breakfast. Be sure to eat one that includes balanced levels of proteins, fats, carbs, and low sugar levels. This can help maintain your energy levels throughout the day and ensure that you avoid the dreaded mid-morning crash.

7) Make Your House a "Safe Zone"

If your pantries are stocked with junk food, it’s going to be difficult to avoid problematic cravings. For this reason, keeping your house free of problematic foods can help you avoid emotional eating patterns and develop healthier food relationships, instead. If you’ve noticed that your house is a junk food zone, focus on cleaning your cupboards of excessively processed, sugary, or fatty foods and replacing them with healthy alternatives like nuts, dried fruits, nut butters, fruit, healthy dips like hummus, and whole-grain crackers. This simple step can help ensure that you’re not falling victim to emotional eating and that when you do need a snack, you’re reaching for healthier alternatives.

8) Pay Attention to Portions

Paying attention to portions goes hand in hand with mindful eating habits. If you sit down in front of the television with an entire bag of chips, for example, the likelihood that you’re going to overeat is much higher than it would be if you got a small handful sized portion, placed it in a bowl, and sat down to eat at the table. If you have difficulty avoiding overeating, consider purchasing snacks and treats in individual serving-sized packages (available at stores like Costco) or always serving yourself from a bowl rather than the package or bag.

9) Don’t Eat For the Scale

When you eat according to the numbers on a scale, you’re inherently depriving yourself of nutrition, healthy meals, and enjoying your food. Rather than eating for weight loss or gain, focus on eating what makes you feel good. Your meals should be balanced, healthy, made from whole-food ingredients, and eaten in a conscious, mindful setting. Doing this helps ensure that you’re eating for the health of your body rather than for the number on the scale.

10) Allow Yourself to Enjoy Eating

One of the main traits of people who have healthy, happy relationships with food is that they allow themselves to enjoy the act of eating. All the other tips on this list aren’t worth anything if you can’t allow yourself to enjoy the act of sitting down to eat a delicious meal. Instead of scarfing your meals, eating on the go, or grabbing something quick every time you feel a hunger pang, focus on truly making time for your meals. Give yourself at least a half hour to enjoy your lunch every day and, whenever you can, focus on making your meal times private, uninterrupted, and leisurely. Enjoying your meals in a peaceful, leisurely setting can help you avoid bingeing and can translate into better food choices.

Conclusion

While the relationship between eating and food can be difficult for many people, there are plenty of surefire ways to ensure that your relationship with eating is as healthy as possible. By following these tips, you can make better food decisions, avoid emotional binges, and set yourself up for healthy eating patterns for life.
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