Exercises for Building Stronger Muscles and Refueling Afterward — Tips and Video

Senior Care Corner® is a sponsored blog partner of Ensure® but the opinions in this article are ours alone. Please see below for additional disclosures.

Are you and your senior loved one minding your muscles and staying strong?

Muscles hold us upright, allow us to move and are needed for the function of important vital organs such as our heart and intestines.

Muscles help us smile, blink our eyes and chew our food.

Muscles also help regulate our metabolism and give us strength to complete the tasks we choose to do every day.

Protein and Our Muscle Mass

Every muscle in our body needs protein from the food we eat to renew, recover and stay strong.

As we all get older, we are at risk for muscle loss when our protein intake begins to wane and our physical activity slows.

Nutrition and exercise can help keep muscles strong and build muscles as we get older.

Eating adequate amounts of protein — up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight — is important to maintain strong muscles. One way to get enough protein is by supplementing your meals and snacks with Ensure High Protein Shake. It can give you 16 grams of protein to fill any gaps in your diet but also 23 essential vitamins and minerals for both muscle and bone health.

Preserving your muscle mass as you age with regular exercise will help you put all the pieces of the puzzle together to maintain your strength and mind your muscles.

After the age of 40, we all begin to lose muscle if we are inactive. Seniors can be at risk for sarcopenia or loss of muscle at a greater rate so need to participate in regular physical activity to keep their muscles strong in addition to eating enough protein.

Video Highlights to Mind Your Muscles

Being physically active doing something you love is important.

Check out this video to get in the action and mind your muscles:

Being active and eating right should be a lifelong goal no matter your age.

Refuel After Exercise

Your body needs to recover by rebuilding and repairing after strenuous activity.

Here are some types of things you and your senior should do to help your bodies recover:

  1. Rest. Plan rest days into your schedule to allow the body to recover fully
  2. Sleep. Make sure you get good quality sleep
  3. Hydrate. Be sure you and your senior get enough fluid in after exercise, water is preferred
  4. Nutrition. Refueling after exercise with an Ensure High Protein Shake is a good way to recover and build muscles for increased strength.
  5. Stretch. We know we should stretch before but cooling down and stretching out weary muscles and joints is important for recovery.
  6. Ice. Sore muscles may like getting ice to reduce inflammation
  7. Alcohol. Avoid alcohol

Building healthy habits is in your hands!

Here is some additional information about muscle health you might find helpful:

 

Abbott partners with influencers such as Senior Care Corner for its Ensure Program. As part of this Program, we received compensation for our time. Abbott/Ensure believes that consumers and influencers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Abbott/Ensure policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media recommendations.

Teach Your Parents (and Grandparents) Well on Technology

Many baby boomers will recall the classic “Teach Your Children” as recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young in 1970 (ouch, was it THAT long ago?).

Those who are younger may have been introduced to the song in the Glee finale, where it was sung by THE teacher, Will Schuester.

The time will come — if it hasn’t already — for many of us to turn that around and teach our parents and grandparents to become friendly with the technology that will improve their lives and enable their independence as they grow older.

Not all seniors need our help, of course. In fact, we find that some seniors know more about technology than their children and could do the teaching themselves.

Yes, we’ve been helping our senior loved ones discover and learn about new tech, such as smartphones and tablets, already. Understanding those devices and making them an integral part of life are the gateway to other technologies we will all find essential at some point.

Essential Technologies for Living

Many of us — admit it now — already find our smartphones and tablets to be essential parts of our lives. No, it’s not just the digital natives who feel this way. We may not have been born digital, but we’ve been naturalized into the digital world.

Essential technology for senior living starts with the smartphone or tablet, the heart of the digital ecosystem, but goes far beyond that. There are a number of advances in technology available already and many more innovations about which we look forward to learning more next year at CES®.

Depending on the health, safety, independence, and comfort needs of each senior, there are a number of technology areas that may be “essential” to them now or later in their lives, such as:

  • Communications technologies to stay in touch with family, friends, healthcare providers, and the world
  • Medication devices that provide cross-checking, storage, reminders, and delivery
  • Artificial intelligence systems to anticipate and avoid falls, getting lost, and health issues
  • Robotic caregivers to provide companionship, perform routine tasks, and combine multiple technology areas in one device
  • Healthcare technologies that monitor seniors’ vital systems and signs, communicating data to care providers, and more to reduce emergency hospital visits and routine doctor visits
  • Autonomous transportation that helps seniors maintain their mobility and independence with greater safety

…and SO much more.

All that tech is, or will be, out there so we need to help our senior loved ones prepare for it — and we have to do it right.

We have to teach our parents and grandparents well!

Patience — Key to Teaching Tech Well

I know, you’re saying “of course patience is essential to teaching.” Yes, we all know it, but do we practice it?

Family members are renowned for displaying a lack of patience when teach senior loved ones to use technology. Articles in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal (“Want to Get Tech Savvy? Don’t Ask Your Children“), recommend that seniors learn to use their smartphones and tablets from somebody other than family members.

Sure, learning from someone who is not related may be best for some people of all ages, not just seniors, but there are at least three reasons we should work to be the first place our loved ones turn for that needed education.

  1. When our senior loved ones need “family tech support” to get their device or apps working correctly, it would be helpful to know how they were taught initially. Knowing this can make it easier to walk through the support steps and reinforce prior lessons to build proficiency and independence with technology.
  2. As new technologies become available, we can build on what our seniors know already by using teaching steps that helped get them where they are instead of taking a different path.
  3. Time spent helping our parents or grandparents learn new skills can be a wonderful experience, creating memories that will last forever.

We lose all of that if we drive our senior loved ones to learn from others because we are impatient or make them feel we would rather be doing something else rather than helping them.

We Didn’t Learn it All at Once, Either

One challenge that seems to doom many senior technology teaching sessions is trying to bite off too much at once. That alone can cause enough frustration, both in teacher and student, to make future sessions painful to anticipate.

Think back to when you got your first smartphone or tablet. You probably didn’t load it up with apps that you actually used right away. You gradually learned how to use the device and apps. Still, the temptation is there to load up your senior’s device all at once with everything they might need and teach them how to use it.

Trying to push too much all at once can result in our senior loved ones giving up and tossing the device in a drawer to be forgotten. With smartphones and tablets serving as the heart of the home technology ecosystem, that means our pushing could put our seniors that much further behind and create an even steeper learning curve later.

Try on Their Shoes First

No, this is not meant literally!

Before trying to teach a how-to senior technology session, it can be very helpful to try on their shoes first, considering their perspective and understanding their history with technology.

Many seniors use, or have used, personal computers in their work or personal lives. This provides a knowledge base that can be both helpful and something to overcome. Understanding, though, what they are accustomed to doing can help the learning process.

Let them know what actions or functions are similar between the devices they know and the new technology. That can make learning easier.

Understanding what is different from what they know can help them avoid the very frustrating repetition of actions from memory that worked on other devices but simply don’t translate to their new ones.

Teaching Well Has Its Rewards

As family caregivers, we want very much for our senior loved ones to live their elder years safely, in good health, and comfortably. We want them to be happy.

Technology can and will help enable all of those – – and help them to be happy.

Those same technologies that improve the lives of our seniors will also make easier the roles of family caregivers, which is not a minor added bonus.

You might try, when you hit one of those seemingly inevitable spots where they frustrate you during the teaching process, remembering and taking to heart some of the lyrics written so well by Graham Nash and performed so magically by him and his bandmates:

just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

 




State Scorecards on Services for Aging in Place Seniors – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Family caregivers need resources to help their senior loved ones’ age in place and live the highest quality of life possible.

Frequently seniors need help from healthcare providers across the continuum of care to give them support to remain healthy as they age, in addition to the assistance that they receive from their family caregivers.

Are these long term support services (LTSS) available in their state or community, are they accessible, and will they meet their needs are questions that a recent report has helped answer for caregivers.

LTSS include a wide range of care interventions, such as

  • personal care (bathing, dressing, eating, walking, toileting)
  • complex care (medications, wound care)
  • help with housekeeping
  • transportation
  • paying bills
  • meals
  • other ongoing social services such as assistive technology and devices

Services can be received in the home, assisted living and other supportive housing settings, nursing facilities, and integrated settings. LTSS also include supportive services provided to family members and other unpaid caregivers.

Creating a State Scorecard

AARP, The SCAN Foundation, and the Commonwealth Fund investigated five key dimensions with measures or indicators in each category to determine which states were providing adequate LTSS for seniors and caregivers.

Hopefully this state scorecard will be used by state government and agencies to “pick up the pace” to create and sustain services for seniors in the community.

The scorecard measures state “performance for creating a high-quality system of care in order to drive progress toward improvement in services for older adults and people with physical disabilities, and their family caregivers.”

How does your state rank? Check out the report findings here.

LTSS Scorecard Measures

Areas that were investigated include:

  • Affordability and Access – ability to find and afford service plus a safety net for those unable to pay
  • Choice of Setting and Provider – choice about where they will get services and who will provide
  • Quality of Life and Quality of Care – maximize positive outcomes and treat seniors with respect
  • Support for Family Caregivers – support for caregivers to allow them to continue to provide care without burnout
  • Effective Transitions – minimize need for transitions such as hospitalizations and create seamless transitions when needed

Some states showed improvements over the 2014 report, many remained consistent without overall improvement, and many were found to have some declines in specific areas.

Unfortunately for family caregivers, what this report doesn’t measure is the quality of the care provided as they felt there was no one measure nationwide for quality of care.

This scorecard added a few important measures of interest to family caregivers such as transportation for seniors who can no longer drive, the extent to which registered nurses are able to delegate health maintenance tasks to nonfamily members, a caregiver assessment, and other ways in which family caregivers can be supported, for themselves and in their role as caregiver.

Tips for Families to Benefit from LTSS

Family caregivers and their senior loved ones have options about resources that will benefit them as they remain independent to age in place.

Connecting and utilizing with these resources isn’t always easy though. Here are some tips to help caregivers engage with LTSS.

  1. Determine what help your senior needs to remain independent. Do they need someone to cook and clean? Do they need help with personal care such as bathing? Do they need reminders for medications or someone to help with finance management?
  2. Have you talked with their doctor about what gaps in your senior’s independence need filling? Can the doctor provide community referrals for care and services?
  3. Understand your senior’s insurance plan and what support services are covered. Some seniors have been paying for LTC insurance but never use it. Most plans will help with in-home care support services that keep seniors at home longer instead of needing to transition to a facility.
  4. What technology devices can help make their daily life easier? Will a programmable thermostat help keep the air temperature livable? Will a medication reminder on a smartphone or tablet keep them safe when dosing prescriptions? Do they need emergency response system in case of falls?
  5. Will they be safer at home with adaptions or devices such as walker, handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seat, wider doorways, more lighting, or other accommodations?
  6. Have you attended disease specific support groups to make connections toward local services and caregiver support?
  7. Have you taken caregiver training classes either in person or online to help you be a better caregiver and reduce burnout? It is important to work smarter not harder as a caregiver so that you can continue to care for your senior.
  8. If needed, is there transportation available to get your senior where they need to go? Are there senior centers to keep them mentally and physically engaged?

Additional Resources

Family caregivers will find that looking for help, not only for their senior loved one but also themselves, as caregivers will indeed lighten their load.

It is important to recognize when more help is needed, respite is desired, and where in your community help can be found.

Here are some additional posts that you may find helpful as you help your senior loved one.

 




9 Great Protein (and Flavor) Hacks for Seniors’ Muscle Health

Senior Care Corner® is a sponsored blog partner of Ensure® but the opinions in this article are ours alone. Please see below for additional disclosures.

Our muscles need our attention as we get older so that caregivers and seniors can stay active and strong.

Family caregivers who are balancing caring for older adults, their own children, a job, and their own health may be falling short on crucial building blocks in their diet to keep their muscles strong, just like their senior loved ones.

Getting enough essential nutrition in our food is important for optimal quality of life for everyone.

Why Protein is Crucial

Family caregivers, especially sandwich generation carers, need nutrition as much as the senior loved ones for whom they care so they can accomplish all the activities on their daily to-do lists.

Protein provides the foundation of our muscles. Eating enough protein every day is something we can’t afford to overlook in the bustle of our busy life.

Protein is used by our bodies for a variety of functions in addition to building and repairing muscles. Every cell in the body contains protein. It is needed for blood, healthy bones, maintaining hormone levels, energy, forming antibodies to fight infection as part of our immune system, comprising collagen, and our hair and skin.

The foods we choose should give our bodies all the protein they need. We must pay attention to our choices to be sure we are filling all the gaps.

Protein In Our Diet

There are many good sources of protein that family caregivers should be including in their and their senior loved ones’ diets such as:

  • Meat, chicken, fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Nuts, seeds and beans
  • Soy

Our senior loved ones don’t always include protein in each meal or enough of these foods in their daily meals. Caregivers with many time pressures may also opt for meals that aren’t high in protein, leaving them falling short of their needs.

Snacks Help Fill the Gaps

Did you know that 94% of us eat a snack at least once a day?

The nutritional quality of snack foods is especially important to avoid falling short of adequate nourishment.

Caregivers want their snacks to sustain them until their next meal. They search for something that both tastes good and is convenient for themselves and their seniors.

Older adults tend to cut back on their meal intake because they are unable to cook or don’t desire to cook for themselves, feel that their budget limits their food choices, have difficulty chewing meats, or simply get into a habit of selecting foods that are not nourishing. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for older adults to eat 25 to 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal necessary for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Family caregivers may find that they just don’t have time to prepare or eat a healthy meal and need a nourishing snack to see them through their busy day.

21% of Americans skip breakfast, which could be a real obstacle for family caregivers to get all the nutrients needed by the end of the day.

As a great example of a quick, beneficial snack day or night, you might grab a container of your favorite flavor of Ensure High Protein. Sipping milk chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry when you are short for time and on-the-go is an easy way to get essential nutrition.

Protein Hacks That Add Nutrition and Flavor

A nutritional supplement (sometimes called a meal replacement) is an easy hack to add much needed protein and nutrients to your daily diet.

Sometimes senior adults may find drinking a supplement challenging. Perhaps they have tried one of the many options in the past and need a little encouragement to realize the nutritional benefits a shake can give them throughout the day to help renew their muscle strength and supply essential vitamins and minerals.

Some younger adults may think supplements are only for the older crowd or the senior for whom they care. In fact, the natural process of progressive muscle loss begins for many of us after age 40.

Here are some hacks to help you and your senior incorporate muscle building protein into your daily routine:

  1. Blend fruit into your favorite flavor nutrition shake to make a creamy, fruit smoothie. Try a ripe banana or fruits that may be getting past their prime but not yet ready to toss. This is a great way to keep from wasting precious fruits, stretch your food budget and create something truly delicious and refreshing (not to mention nutrition building!).
  2. Try a veggie twist with your nutrition shake — blenderize a carrot into a smooth consistency (or use a juicer with additional veggies such as fresh beets, cucumbers, red peppers, green leafy veggies, zucchini and others) and mix it into a vanilla shake. This is a surprising treat for you or your senior loved one and adds nutrients that may not ordinarily be eaten.
  3. Add the leftover morning coffee from the pot into a shake (vanilla and chocolate flavor both work well) to create your own coffee milkshake! It only takes a few ounces of coffee to add a burst of flavor!
  4. Add a teaspoon (or more to taste) of one of the great flavorings in your spice rack. You can find many flavors in your supermarket!
  5. Stir one of your ice cream toppings from your fridge into your shake to create a taste sensation. How about caramel, strawberry or a dark chocolate syrup – a squirt goes a long way to punch up the flavor to sweeten the nutrition.
  6. Add ¼ cup of orange juice to a vanilla Ensure High Protein to create your own one of a kind creamsicle in a glass! Use your favorite glass for an extra special treat!
  7. You can make a different shake every day of the year! Mix your shake with ingredients you have on hand, including frozen fruits, canned fruit, syrups, any flavor ice cream, candy pieces, peanut butter, chopped nuts, or whatever pleases you. Consider the endless possibilities! The nuts and nut butter will really help punch up the protein!
  8. Ever wonder if you would enjoy a savory shake? How about vanilla shake mixed with greens, fresh herbs like dill or parsley or cilantro, and sea salt or salted nuts? The imagination can be unleashed on these savory flavors to truly spice up your day!
  9. Overnight oats made with Ensure High Protein – now that is a convenient hack to start the day off right. Add in fruit in season, maple syrup, brown sugar or other flavorings like almond syrup!

Building muscle and staying healthy never tasted so good!

 

Abbott partners with influencers such as Senior Care Corner for its Ensure Program. As part of this Program, we received compensation for our time. Abbott/Ensure believes that consumers and influencers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Abbott/Ensure policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media recommendations.