Karin Haugrud, columnist
Do you remember when you were young and you and your friends would laugh and laugh until your belly would ache and tears would stream from your eyes? Every laugh was contagious; it seemed like the more you tried to stop your laughing, the harder you laughed. When was the last time you laughed like that?
Complaints of sleep troubles are especially common among the older adults. One out of every two seniors suffers from sleep deprivation — and the debilitating and dangerous side effects of daytime drowsiness, according to the Better Sleep Council. Myths about sleep and seniors are masking a serious health problem. Contrary to common belief, aging does not cause sleep problems. Nor do seniors need less sleep as they grow older. These untrue but prevalent myths may result in a society that ignores seniors' sleep deprivation and its harmful effects.
Millions of people suffer from aches and pains in the joints. Arthritis affects people in all age groups. It is one of our most prevalent chronic health problems. As the baby boom generation grows older, the number of arthritis sufferers will grow. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis and many different symptoms and treatments. Arthritis causes pain and loss of movement. It can affect joints in any part of the body. Arthritis is usually chronic, meaning it can occur over a long period of time. The more serious forms can cause swelling, warmth, redness, and pain.
Sometimes when people feel sad, they say they are "depressed." But depression is more than just feeling sad. Sleeping problems, persistent sadness, forgetfulness, withdrawing from friends-all these behaviors and feelings are often accepted behaviors for older adults. But for many people age 65 and over, these responses are not a result of the normal aging process, nor are they signs of senility. They are symptoms of a common emotional illness called depression.
Don't forget...Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for, or change prescription drug plans from Oct. 15 until Dec. 7 of this year. Plans may have different costs and benefits from year to year, thus it is advisable for all beneficiaries to consider their options and make the best choice they can for the coming year. The change will take effect on January 1 as long as the plan receives your request by Dec. 7.
Your dad lives in another state and is recovering from a broken hip. You hear from his neighbor that despite his cheery "everything is just fine" attitude, he is unable to keep the house clean or do laundry. Or maybe you live across the country and worry about your aging parents. Are they still safe living in their own home?
The time may come when part-time help won't do; when your parents' home is unsafe, or they are lonely, or far from their support network, or need round-the-clock help at home. Unless they are quite well off, and can afford to hire full time help, it may be time for a different housing option.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as "Senior Citizens Month," the prelude to "Older Americans Month."
April is National Stress Awareness Month, which means it's time to put some extra focus on the role stress plays in our lives. No one is immune to stress — and science shows that how we react to it matters. Lots of research has come out in the past year alone, illustrating how our dealings with stress — whether it's how long we ruminate over a problem, or how exactly we react to a stressful event — can affect our health. And not only that, new studies are also coming out showing the effect stress has on our physical health.
People are living longer than ever before. Advances in medicine, nutritional awareness, and improved exercise habits have contributed to the rapid growth of the 65-plus age group. By the year 2030, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 18.