Parkinson’s Disease and Nutrition

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
  • Swallowing dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)

Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.

When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?

  • Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
  • Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Comparing Life Plan Retirement Communities on Price

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In Columbus, and the surrounding central Ohio region, shopping for a life plan retirement community (also referred to as a CCRC or continuing care retirement community) requires a lot of research, and your final decision will be based on many factors–services, location, amenities, reputation, and more–though price is usually one of the most heavily weighted.

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Peg’s Perspective –The Longevity Project and Conscientiousness

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip # 11 of 50 –The Longevity Project and Conscientiousness

By: Peg Carmany

In 1921, a forward-thinking psychologist, Dr. Lewis Terman, began a study of 1500 children born around 1910.  The purpose of the study was to research intellectual leadership — Dr. Terman wondered if he could identify early markers of high potential in children who were identified as “gifted” by their teachers. Their lives were followed and studied in meticulous detail. Out of this now famous study Dr. Howard Friedman and Dr. Leslie Martin began to study a different question: who lives the longest, and why? The results are revealed in The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight Decade Study. 

One of the factors in living a long life is conscientiousness, that is, the young adults who were thrifty, persistent, detail-oriented and responsible, tended to live the longest. Conscientious people simply do more things to protect their health and engage in fewer activities that are risky. They are more likely to wear seatbelts and follow doctors’ orders. And not only do conscientious people have better health habits and healthier brains, but they also tend to create healthy, long-life pathways for themselves, including happier marriages, better friendships, and healthier work situations.

So, if you are a conscientious person, keep doing what you are already doing! And if you are not engaging in prudent, dependable habits, take heart. People can and do slowly change their patterns and habits to promote a healthy, happy, and long life.

At The Wesley Communities, we have an impressive number of residents who are living well beyond 100 years old, maintaining their independence, their minds, and their sense of purpose. We do not quiz them on their conscientiousness, but we do provide many wonderful options to help all of them make good, happy, and fun choices!

Source:  The Longevity Project, by Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D., and Leslie R. Martin, Ph.D

CCRCs: The Purpose of Entry Fees

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The vast majority of Continuing Care Retirement Communities require an entry fee. Naturally, people often ask, “What is the purpose of the entry fee?” Before answering this question it is helpful to understand the history of entry fees.

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Active Aging Redefines Health and Wellness

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What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.

But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.

Click above to learn more about active aging.

How CCRCs can help couples stay together as they age

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An active, healthy lifestyle can help protect your mind and body from disease and injury—which often leads to a need for long-term care. However, there are no guarantees in life and the question of whether—and how long—you or your spouse may need care remains unknown.

Click above to learn how CCRCs can help couples stay together as they age.

Peg’s Perspective-Brain Fitness: Hardwiring for Happiness

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The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.  The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why? Dr. Hanson refers to “Paper Tiger Paranoia,” which looks at the special power of fear:

“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes:  (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one.   The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death.   Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once,” Hanson explains.

So, we are genetically programmed for fear and anxiety. And anyone who has ever experienced the “hamster wheel of the mind” in the middle of the night can surely relate to that.

But we can, through a variety of ways, begin to hardwire our brains in a different way, in essence, change our brains for the better. The key, according to Dr. Hanson, is to become mindful of the thoughts you are thinking, step back and observe what you are thinking, then work with it to pull the negative thoughts from your own head like you would pull weeds from a garden, and then actively cultivate positive experiences and thoughts. Dr. Hanson calls it “Self-Directed Neuroplasticity,” which is cultivating good, positive thoughts in your head, including living and dwelling with good memories and thoughts, not bad ones.

The negativity bias, while good for survival in harsh conditions, is lousy for a good quality of life, fulfilling relationships, and long-term health. So, take a cue from Dr. Hanson, and regularly take in the good.     Many people are a much better friend to others than they are to themselves. He recommends taking notice of the good, and try not to focus on the negatives that inevitably arise in everyone’s life. Your life-long happiness with be enhanced as a result.

Source: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D

Benefits of Technology for Seniors

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At The Wesley Communities, we understand that technology can be intimidating. It feels like every time we turn around there’s a new phone, app, or device! But we firmly believe that the benefits of technology are worth learning about. Technology can improve three main areas of seniors’ lives. Click above to learn more!

What to Look for in Memory Care Communities

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When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.

Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.