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How Much Sleep Do Seniors Need?

How Much Sleep Do Seniors Need?

Many seniors deal with a number of health problems related to aging – one in particular is not getting enough healthy sleep. It’s not the advanced age that keeps seniors from a good night’s rest, but various sleep disorders or sleep disturbances that often come with age. As we get older, our sleep patterns change and seniors do not spend as much time in deep sleep as younger people do.

Common symptoms of sleep disorders are:
• Having trouble falling asleep
• Waking up very early in the morning
• Frequent waking in the night

Many seniors have problems sleeping because of health conditions, as well as their associated symptoms and medications, including:
• Side effects of prescription medications
• Depression
• Not getting enough exercise
• Alzheimer’s disease or a neurological problem
• Frequent urination during the night

It’s also possible that biological changes in seniors contribute to sleep disorders. One theory is that seniors produce and release less of the hormone melatonin that helps people sleep. Another problem is a shifting in various functions of the body, including sleep. This shift makes older people more tired earlier in the evening, so they go to bed earlier and get up a lot earlier, too.

Many seniors also have problems with insomnia, which is often linked to an underlying medical or psychological problem. Not getting healthy sleep can impact a senior’s overall health and wellness, and even impair cognitive functioning.

Seniors don’t need as much sleep as younger people do, no more than seven to eight hours of sleep. But that sleep often comes broken up throughout the day rather than in one big stretch at night. Here are some suggestions to battle sleep disorders and get a full night of restful, healthy sleep:
•    If you’re experiencing depression, painful arthritis, or bladder problems that force you to get up and go to the bathroom frequently at night, seek medical attention to get these conditions under control.
•    Don’t just lie in bed. Try to go to sleep at bedtime, but if you’re still awake after 20 minutes, get out of bed and either read or take a hot shower or bath.
•    Eliminate caffeine at night and don’t eat a huge meal or a big snack before bedtime. It’s also important for you to exercise each day.
•    Get into a good sleep routine. Set a regular time to wake up each morning and go to bed each night to retrain your body for healthy sleep.

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Normal Forgetfulness or Alzheimer’s?

Normal Forgetfulness or Alzheimer’s?

Have you ever gone into a room to get something and then forgotten what you went in to get? Many people are afraid this may be a prelude to Alzheimer’s disease. In most cases these episodes of forgetfulness reflect normal age-related memory loss, sleep deprivation, medication side effects, or even stress. But when even later on you can’t remember what you went in the room to get, or even the entire episode of entering the room, then early Alzheimer’s might be a real concern.

Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems.

Normal Aging
The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
•    Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
•    Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
•    Occasionally forgetting an appointment.
•    Having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
•    Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
•    Becoming easily distracted.
•    Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue.”

Look for positive signs
•    vocabulary and relationship understanding remains intact
•    memory improves with cueing and context
•    remember the order of things and who said what
•    aware that a memory problem exists
•    functioning remains good despite forgetfulness

The primary difference between age-related memory loss and Alzheimer is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do.

When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia related conditions. Some of these include:
•    recent memory poor, and cueing and context don’t help
•    can’t remember the order of things and who said what
•    repetitiveness becomes obvious; memory intrusions occur
•    unaware that a memory problem exists
•    day-to-day functioning declines along with memory

Alzheimer’s disease affects people’s memories, but it involves far more than simple forgetfulness. It is a progressive, degenerative, and incurable brain disorder that ends in death. We still don’t know why some people get this devastating disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than five million Americans now have the disorder and experts predict that this year another 500,000 will be diagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

When to See a Doctor
When you or your loved one’s memory problems look more like those listed above for Alzheimer’s, it is time to talk to your doctor. Similarly, when problems involve dangerous behaviors (like wandering outside or leaving the stove on), significant changes in mood, and losses in abilities like dressing and personal hygiene, it is time to seek professional help.

A complete medical exam for memory loss should review the person’s medical history, including the use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, and general health. A correct diagnosis depends on accurate details, so in addition to talking with the patient, the doctor might ask a family member, caregiver, or close friend for information.

Blood and urine tests can help the doctor find the cause of the memory problems or dementia. The doctor also might do tests for memory loss and test the person’s problem-solving and language abilities. A computed tomography CT or MRI brain scan may help rule out some causes of the memory problems.

Even if the memory problems are minor, seeking reassurance from your doctor may be the best thing you can do.

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Healthy Eating for Seniors

Healthy Eating for Seniors

Better healthcare has provided many people with a longer life expectancy, and nutrition is a big part of keeping people healthy as they age into their golden years.As we age, our activity levels decline as bones start to creak and muscles ache. Many adults lose precious muscle mass as they grow older. This decrease in muscle leads to a slower metabolism. Unless we pay close attention to incoming calories, the result is weight gain in the form of extra fat stored on the body.
Because nutrient needs don’t change very much but calorie needs decrease, it is important for seniors to choose nutrient-dense foods to get the most bang for their nourishment buck.
Many seniors experience a decrease in appetite, which leads to eating less. For most this is a natural occurrence and is not a problem, but for some a decreased appetite can lead to malnutrition and significant health problems. If you have lost weight unintentionally, check with your physician to see if there is a more serious health condition to be concerned about.
As we age, we become more susceptible to chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. How we eat can either prevent and ease or increase the risk for and exacerbate these conditions. Paying close attention to diet can prolong and improve quantity and quality of life for those living with certain medical conditions.
If diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is a problem, avoid excess sugars and be sure not to skip meals or snacks. Following a regular schedule of eating light and often helps the body know when to expect food and keeps glucose under better control.
Carbs raise blood sugar, so you need to substantially cut down on the “Big Cs”: carbohydrates, cake, cookies, candy, chocolate, and cereal. Carbs also include starchy foods and should be limited and in moderation. The obvious sources of sugar are any types of desserts. According to the American Diabetes Association adults should try to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. So what can you eat? Foods which are better for your body and have many fewer bad carbs are meats, eggs, cheese and vegetables. Note that whole-grain foods contain the entire grain, so they have many more nutrients than refined grains.
For heart health, keep saturated and trans fats to a minimum and avoid excess sodium in your diet.
Some older adults become sensitive to foods such as onions and peppers, dairy products, or spicy foods. Be aware of how certain foods make you feel, and make adjustments as needed. If an entire food group becomes a problem, make sure you get the nutrients found in that group from other foods. For example, if you find that you cannot drink milk anymore, try lactose-free milk, yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified foods instead.
Along with medical conditions come medications to control symptoms and progression of diseases. Medications can affect appetite in some cases and can also mix poorly with certain foods and nutritional supplements. Read the pamphlet information that accompanies your prescriptions carefully so you know how to eat while taking any medications.
Losing a spouse can leave seniors without a regular eating schedule. Depression can result from loss of social interaction, which can affect appetite as well. Many seniors find themselves needing to cook and prepare food for the first time in their lives. Some seniors simply may choose not to eat rather than go through the hassle of cooking a meal for one. Preparing meals for one person takes adjustment. When you can, eat with friends and family to enjoy the social interaction at mealtime. While you may end up relying on convenience foods, try to make sure they are nutritious. Focus on: • frozen vegetables • individual containers of canned fruit • prepared lean meat (grilled chicken breast in strips) • convenience packs of whole grains (pouches of brown rice)
Nutrients can play a part in reducing depression and mood disorders, such as dementia, including Thiamine; Iron; Vitamins B6, B12, and D; and Folate. Also, be sure not to skip meals, which can cause blood sugar to fluctuate. Implement the HALT principle to regulate mood disorders. (HALT = Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).
Eat fruits and vegetables, fatty fish (salmon and mackerel), Omega-3 oils (walnut and soy), foods with Vitamin D (dairy, oysters, salmon, tuna, fortified cereal, liver, cod liver oil, and eggs), antioxidants (foods containing Vitamin E, such as some oils, wheat germ, whole grains, green-leafy vegetables, nuts, corn, seeds, olives and egg yolks).
Limit foods without a lot of nutritional value because they add calories without providing nutrition.Stay Hydrated
The signal your body gives you for thirst can diminish as you age, so make sure to remind yourself to drink fluids on a regular basis. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. You can also get fluid from water-rich fruits and vegetables to assist in total fluid intake.
Seniors have their own set of dental and oral health concerns. For example, dentures that don’t fit properly may lead to poor intake of food and malnutrition. Infections of the mouth can lead to systemic infections. Continue with regular check-ups to your dentist, as well as floss and brushing.
Healthy eating is important throughout the entire lifespan, and especially as we age.  Chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes can be controlled for seniors who stay active and fill their plates with nutrient rich, lower calorie foods. Always check with your doctor prior to starting a new eating plan.

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Keeping Your Independence

Keeping Your Independence

Getting older is a gift and we realize how precious time is.  Maintaining our friendships, remaining active, cultivating our spirituality or volunteering will set great examples for the generations that follow.

Understanding our limitations are an important part of aging as well. We realize there is a need for independent transportation. Rather than asking a relative to take time off work or a neighbor for a ride, you have the option of calling “your personal chauffeur” by contacting Acumen Transportation Solutions, LLC at 940-600-7120.

As a privately owned, fully insured Non-Emergency Transportation Provider in Denton County, Acumen Transportation seeks to build lasting relationships with our customers.  Our drivers are professional and enjoy what they do.  We refer to them as “travel companions” who seek to make your trip as comfortable as if you were with a family member.  All employees have passed drug tests, background checks and had driving records verified. We are proud to have vehicles to accommodate those who can walk, as well as those in wheelchairs or other mobility assistance.

Acumen Transportation will take you and drop you off at your doctor appointment or anywhere else you need to go.  We can stay with you if you are having a day surgery procedure, or want us to stay with you until an appointment is over. We can also take care of your pharmacy needs. Need a ride to the airport, we can do that!

If you have a joint replacement or are being discharged from a hospital, we will transport you home, to a rehabilitation facility or to a nursing home for less than half the cost they will charge you if they make the arrangements for you!  Save your money and call us for the exact same service the hospital or rehabilitation facility would arrange.

Serving individuals, nursing homes, assisted living and hospitals. Visit our website at

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by Reese Gray

Boomers, we were a stand-out group, a group of firsts and it appears that we still are.

The “recent” recession hit hard (I am still not convinced that it ended), and if you were one of the many unfortunate ones that lost your job due to cuts, closings, changes and/or company downsizing, you might have found yourself in a rough financial situation.  Most likely you feel too young to retire and maybe even too young to receive social security benefits, but too old to be on the top of the list of hiring professionals. Add to all that, most likely, your unemployment has run out and you have found yourself dipping into savings and those already shrinking retirement funds.

So, many seniors and near-seniors (does the term senior start when the movie theatre lets me in for a discount or when my Medicare starts? I am always wondering.) who find themselves in this same situation have, out of necessity, become the new  successful entrepreneurs.

If you fall into any of the following demographics: retirees, soon-to-be retirees, displaced workers, the unretired, and those who always dreamed of having their own businesses, it might be the right time to realize your dream.  Remember those ideas you put away over the years because you didn’t have near the time needed to develop? Well, maybe the time is now.

Several studies have identified the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs today as individuals in the 55 to 64-year-old age bracket. These boomers have put in their time at the office, they have raised their children, they have cared for their elderly parents and still feel young enough in their hearts and minds to continue living a full active life.  Longevity model estimates give this age group other 20-years or more and that is plenty of time to craft another business or be successful at another job.

Retiring for many of us isn’t about bowing out; it is about enjoying our wiser years.  And it turns out that enjoyment can come in a launch of an old business dream. So if buying a boat and sailing around the world brings you joy, sail away.  But if continuing to share your ideas and skills with the world is still a big part of who you are and you think you may have a great idea in your old bag of tricks the statistic agree with you that it may be a good time to explore that dream.

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Safe Senior Driving

Safe Senior Driving

Because you want to be a safe driver as long as possible, consider getting a professional driving assessment. Not only can this help you recognize and correct possible shortcomings, it also can result in a specialized drivers’ training plan to help you continue driving safely. Think about getting an assessment the same way you look at visiting your doctor for annual wellness checkups – as a smart way to identify and manage any physical or mental changes.

Professional driving assessments generally fall into two categories: driving skills evaluations and clinical driving assessments. A driving skill evaluation includes an in-car evaluation of your driving abilities and a recommendation regarding any further specialized drivers’ training.

Clinical driving assessments are used to identify underlying medical causes of any driving performance deficits and offer ways to address them, so driving remains a safe option.

Consider getting a comprehensive driving skills evaluation or clinical driving assessment if:

•    You are concerned that your driving skills may have diminished over time.
•    You have been diagnosed with a medical condition known to impact driving ability (e.g., impaired vision, dementia, diabetes, seizures, sleep disorders, stroke).

•    You have experienced a recent increase in near misses or minor crashes (fender benders).

•    Friends and/or family have suggested that you may not be fit to drive.

Results may show that your driving skills are adequate and current, with no need for specialized drivers’ training or they may reveal deficits that could be addressed with specialized drivers’ training. There, of course, is a possibility that they may reveal that you are no longer safe to operate a motor vehicle.  Whichever the case, it will be a result that may give you and/or your family piece of mind.

Cost can vary between programs and according to the extent of services provided.  Approximately $100 to $200 with supplemental training sessions costing approximately $75 to $150 per hour, and overall costs vary, depending on the amount of training conducted.

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