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Approximately 90 percent of people over 65 years of age want to continue living in their homes as long as possible, in lieu of assisted living arrangements, a 2011 AARP survey found. Unfortunately 70 percent of people in that same age group will require long term care at some point in their lives, according to the 2014 Cost Of Care report by Genworth Financial.
One of the most difficult and emotional decisions seniors have to make is conceding they can no longer take care of themselves without assistance. In fact another Genworth study from 2010 found that seniors are far more concerned with burdening family members than dying. Your physical and mental health, along with a willingness to adapt, will ultimately decide how long you can continue living independently. These four tips could help extend your freedom and well-being.
Take Hyaluronic Acid
The Centers For Disease Control estimates that nearly half of all Americans over age 65 have been diagnosed with arthritis. A guaranteed way to lose your independence is being unable to walk or pick things up with your hands due to chronic joint pain, particularly in the knees.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally-occurring polysaccharide in the human body that lubricates the eyes and joints. It is also known to prolong skin elasticity. The human body produces less HA as it ages, resulting in the joint pain and wrinkles common among seniors.
HA supplements come in both pill and liquid form. A 2012 study published in The Scientific World Journal found that daily oral administration of HA, combined with quadriceps strengthening exercises, significantly reduced the symptoms of osteoarthritis more than just exercise alone. There are no known side effects of HA, but talk to your physician to ensure it does not interact with drugs you’re currently taking.
Protect Your Finances
The 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse found that seniors lost nearly $3 billion to fraudulent schemes perpetrated by both strangers and family members. Telemarketing scams, counterfeit drug prescriptions, investment schemes, and Internet fraud are the top scams criminals use to target seniors, according to the National Council on Aging.
There are several safeguards you can put in place to minimize the risk of becoming a victim. Subscribe to an identity theft protection service to monitor all your financial assets. Also, register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry administered by the Federal Trade Commission. This will prevent telemarketers from calling your home. Immediately throw away all direct mail advertisements and suspicious-looking Medicare “discount” envelopes so you’re never even enticed by well-executed scams.
Keep Your Mind Sharp
Dr. Neal Barnard of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told ABC News that a few simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, by up to 80 percent. Eat a lot of vitamin B6 and folate-rich foods like black-eyed peas, spinach, cooked broccoli, sunflower seeds, fish, chicken, and turkey. Vitamin B12 supplementation can improve memory and slow down atrophy of the brain, according to researchers at Oxford University. Mental activities like reading and playing chess are also known to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Smile And Laugh
A 2011 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “happy” seniors lived longer than their unhappy counterparts. Another study by researchers at the University of Maryland found that laughter is as effective as exercise for expanding blood vessels and increasing blood flow.
Make it a point to watch your favorite comedy movies and television shows on a regular basis. Dogs and cats are also known to provide good laughs. Most importantly, eliminate people from your life who bring only negative energy to the table.
There are many seniors who live active, healthy lives well into their 80s and 90s. You can be the next one with a little effort.
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