Many Older Americans Lack Needed Vaccinations 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just reported immunization data, and it shows some alarming gaps for older people.
About two-thirds of Americans age 65 and older (66 percent) have never had the shingles vaccine, and 43 percent haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years. And when it comes to pneumococcal vaccine, more than a third (36 percent) of older people haven’t had their immunizations.
Older Americans are a bit more diligent about getting flu shots. Even so, 31 percent of those between 65 and 74 haven’t had a flu shot in the past year. Compliance is better among 75 to 84-year-olds, only 28 percent of whom neglect to get the annual vaccine.
Because older adults are at increased risk of complications that can be prevented by vaccines, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends getting an annual flu shot, plus two doses of pneumococcal vaccine, one dose of the shingles vaccine and a tetanus booster every 10 years.
The most neglected inoculation, the shingles vaccine, reduces the risk of getting a viral disease that can cause a painful, blistered skin and fever, headache, fatigue and sensitivity to light, according to the Mayo Clinic website. It’s recommended for adults age 60 and older, whether or not they’ve ever had shingles.
In addition to endangering themselves, adults age 50-plus who skip immunizations drive up health care costs when they get sick to the tune of $6.9 billion a year, according to researchers’ estimates.

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Tips: Sundowning

Late afternoon and early evening can be difficult for some people with Alzheimer’s disease. They may experience sundowning – restlessness, agitation, irritability, or confusion that can begin or worsen as daylight begins to fade—often just when tired caregivers need a break.
Sundowning can continue into the night, making it hard for people with Alzheimer’s to fall asleep and stay in bed. As a result, they and their caregivers may have trouble getting enough sleep and functioning well during the day.The causes of sundowning are not well understood. One possibility is that Alzheimer’s related brain changes can affect a person’s “biological clock,” leading to confused sleep-wake cycles. This may result in agitation and other sundowning behaviors. Other possible causes of sundowning include:
  •  Being overly tired
  •  Unmet needs such as hunger or thirst
  •  Depression Pain
  •  Boredom
Look for signs of sundowning in the late afternoon and early evening. These signs may include increased confusion or anxiety and behaviors such as pacing, wandering, or yelling. If you can, try to find the cause of the person’s behavior. Listen calmly to concerns and frustrations. Try to reassure the person that everything is OK and distract him or her from stressful or upsetting events.You can also try these tips:
  •  Reduce noise, clutter, or the number of people in the room.
  •  Try to distract the person with a favorite snack, object, oractivity. For example, offer a drink, suggest a simple task like folding towels, or turn on a familiar TV show.
  •  Make early evening a quiet time of day. You might playsoothing music, read, or go for a walk. You could also have afamily member or friend call during this time.
  •  Close the curtains or blinds at dusk to minimize shadows and the confusion they may cause. Turn on lights to helpminimize shadows.

Family Members Training As Home-Health Aides

Instead of hiring a home-health aide for their aging parents, some people are training to become an aide themselves, reports the Arizona Republic. This can work out well, but there are some potential pitfalls to be wary of.
The Republic tells the story of one woman, Jessica Hutchison, who became a certified nursing assistant to help care for her grandmother. She felt taking the three-week course at the Arizona Medical Training Institute in Mesa would help her give better care and also help the family save money.
Hutchison learned how to recognize common diseases and their symptoms, such as the signs of low blood sugar that may signal diabetes. She also learned to recognize infection, how to record and monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and how to provide assistance with bathing, grooming and toileting.
But physical training isn’t everything, the article points out. There are a number of things family members doubling as home-health aides should watch out for—such as having compromised objectivity and not being emotionally ready.

4 Common Mistakes Made by Healthy Eaters

More and more people are making the decision to start eating healthier. The problem with that is that they will continue to make the same eating mistakes within the first couple of months, and then return to bad eating habits. Listed below are 4 common diet mistakes:
1. Not enough protein eaten at breakfast
You might consider a healthy breakfast to be a bowl of cereal with non-fat milk and a banana. An hour later, though, you find yourself hungry again. The fact of the matter is that the protein in the milk is not enough to sustain you through to lunch. Healthy fats like almonds are a good cereal addition, or you may also consider adding more protein in the form of a hard-boiled egg. This will help keep hunger at bay.
2. Eating a snack
Nutritionists and diet experts recommend a mid-morning snack if there is going to be 4 or more hours between breakfast and lunch. If the snack size is too large, you end up creating an extra meal. Ideally, a snack should come in at under 200 calories. It should also be comprised of either protein, healthy fat, or a combination of both. Skip the snack completely if you are not experiencing hunger.
3. Salads for lunch
People on a diet will often think they are doing great when they have a salad for lunch, but what is included in that salad? If it is full of bacon bits, croutons, a lot of cheese, or covered in creamy dressing, it may not be that healthy. Additionally, adding too much chicken, avocado, or olive oil can mean cranking up the calorie count.
4. Skipping carbs at dinner
It is still totally possible to lose weight when you enjoy carbs with your dinner. Many people will skip the carbs and choose a protein every time. This is not necessarily the best way to go. If, for example, you went with a 225 gm chicken breast, you would be looking at 375 calories. If you went with a 113 gm piece of chicken instead, and served it with a ½ cup of brown rice, you would actually save close to 80 calories. You would also be getting a serving of fiber, which will help with your weight loss, too.

5 Alzheimer’s Disease Myths

Myth No. 1: Alzheimer’s happens only to older people.
Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But it can happen when you’re younger, too. About 5% of people with the disease get symptoms in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. It’s called early-onset Alzheimer’s.
People who have it often go a long time before getting an accurate diagnosis. That’s because doctors don’t usually consider it a possibility during midlife. They often think symptoms like memory loss are from stress.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s can be genetic. Scientists think it involves changes in one of three rare genes passed down from a parent.
Some memory loss is a normal part of aging. But Alzheimer’s symptoms — like forgetfulness that interferes with your daily life, and disorientation — are not.
It’s normal to forget where your keys are from time to time. But forgetting how to drive to a place you’ve been many times, or losing track of what season it is, points to a more serious problem.
Unlike the mild memory loss that can happen with aging, Alzheimer’s disease takes a growing toll on the brain. As the disease gradually worsens, it takes away someone’s ability to think, eat, talk, and more.
So, if your mind doesn’t seem as sharp as it used to be, that doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s symptom’s. The condition becomes more common among people as they age, but “it isn’t an inevitable part of aging,” says George Perry, MD. He’s a neuroscientist and a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Myth No. 3: Alzheimer’s doesn’t lead to death.
Sadly, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Most people live 8 to 10 years after they’re diagnosed.
They can forget to drink or eat, or they might have trouble swallowing, which can lead to a severe shortage of nutrients. They can also have breathing problems, and that can lead to pneumonia, which is often deadly, Perry says.
Also, the high-risk behaviors that sometimes stem from Alzheimer’s, like wandering into dangerous situations, can be fatal.
Myth No. 4: There are treatments that stop the disease from getting worse.
While certain treatments can help against Alzheimer’s symptoms, “there’s no current way to stop or slow” the disease itself, says Heather M. Snyder, PhD, of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Snyder warns against supplement’s, diets, or regimens that claim to cure it. No evidence shows they’re useful treatments for the disease.
Five medications are FDA-approved to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms: donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne), memantine (Namenda), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine (Cognex).
These medications might help with thinking, memory, language skills, and some behavioral problems. But they don’t work for everyone. If they do work, the relief is usually temporary. Someone with the condition “may do better for a year or so at best,” Perry says.
Myth No. 5: Alzheimer’s is caused by aluminum, flu shots, silver fillings, or aspartame.
You may have heard that cooking with aluminum pans or drinking from aluminum cans causes Alzheimer’s. But there’s no scientific evidence to back that claim.
Some people think the artificial sweetener aspartame causes it. No evidence supports that theory either.
Others think silver dental fillings raise your risk. Again, there’s not much to go on.
Another false belief is that flu shots cause Alzheimer’s. Research suggests the opposite is true: Vaccinations can lower your risk and boost your overall health.
Experts don’t know what causes the disease. It might be a mix of factors tied to genes, environment, and lifestyle. Some research suggests it might be related to health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. There’s a lot of research under way, but the results aren’t yet clear.
Scientists are becoming more interested in the possible role of lifestyle factors. Snyder says a healthy diet, exercise, being social, and doing things that challenge your mind might lower your risk. Since the research is still early on, the exact “lifestyle recipe” is unknown, though.

Diabetes Superfoods

Ever see the top 10 lists for foods everyone should eat to superpower your diet? Ever wonder which will mesh with your diabetes meal plan? Wonder no more. Your list of the top 10 diabetes superfoods has arrived.
As with all foods, you need to work the diabetes superfoods into your individualized meal plan in appropriate portions.All of the foods in our list have a low glycemic index or GI and provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet such as:
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • magnesium
  • vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E.
There isn’t research that clearly points to supplementation, so always think first about getting your nutrients from foods. Below is our list of superfoods to include in your diet.
Whether you prefer kidney, pinto, navy, or black beans, you can’t find better nutrition than that provided by beans. They are very high in fiber, giving you about 1/3 of your daily requirement in just a ½ cup, and are also good sources of magnesium and potassium.
They are considered starchy vegetables, but ½ cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat without the saturated fat. To save time you can use canned beans, but be sure to drain and rinse them to get rid of as much sodium as possible.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, collards, kale – these powerhouse foods are so low in calories and carbohydrate. You can’t eat too much.
Citrus Fruit
Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes. Pick your favorites and get part of your daily dose of soluble fiber and vitamin C.
Sweet Potatoes
A starchy vegetable packed full of vitamin A and fiber. Try in place of regular potatoes for a lower GI alternative.
Which are your favorites: blueberries, strawberries or another variety? Regardless, they are all packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Make a parfait alternating the fruit with light, non-fat yogurt for a new favorite dessert.
An old standby where everyone can find a favorite. The good news is that no matter how you like your tomatoes, pureed, raw, or in a sauce, you’re eating vital nutrients like vitamin C, iron, vitamin E.
Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon is a favorite in this category. Stay away from the breaded and deep fat fried variety… they don’t count in your goal of 6-9 ounces of fish per week.
Whole Grains
It’s the germ and bran of the whole grain you’re after.  It contains all the nutrients a grain product has to offer. When you purchase processed grains like bread made from enriched wheat flour, you don’t get these. A few more of the nutrients these foods offer are magnesium, chromium, omega 3 fatty acids and folate.
Pearled barley and oatmeal are a source of fiber and potassium.
An ounce of nuts can go a long way in providing key healthy fats along with hunger management. Other benefits are a dose of magnesium and fiber.
Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seeds, also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Fat-free Milk and Yogurt
Everyone knows dairy can help build strong bones and teeth. In addition to calcium, many fortified dairy products are a good source of vitamin D. More research is emerging on the connection between vitamin D and good health.
Some of the above list can be tough on the budget depending on the season and where you live. Look for lower cost options such as fruit and vegetables in season or frozen or canned fish.
Foods that every budget can live with year round are beans and rolled oats or barley that you cook from scratch.