SeniorHomes.com Ranks In the Top 1,000 Companies in the Inc. 5000

SeniorHomes.com is thrilled to announce that the company has been recognized in the prestigious Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for 2014. To qualify for inclusion, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2010, and rankings are based on revenue growth from 2013 as compared to 2010 revenue. SeniorHomes.com lands at No. 678, representing a growth of 670 percent in the three-year period between 2010 and 2013.Inc. 5000 logo

This is an exciting accomplishment, as the Inc. 5000 is a widely-respected and recognized ranking of privately-owned companies that has catapulted many brands to widespread success in the past. Brands that are now household names, such as Domino’s Pizza, Dell, Yelp and many others, were recognized in the Inc. 5000 while they were still startups with tons of potential.

There are a few factors contributing to this success. First, a growing elderly population and increasing numbers of family caregivers mean there are more people navigating the at-times-confusing landscape of senior housing and senior care. Companies like SeniorHomes.com provide a valuable, free service to these families who aren’t sure where to turn for help or how to begin their search. Second, SeniorHomes.com has worked hard to cultivate and maintain a positive, supportive company culture throughout phases of rapid growth and the inevitable challenges that statups face along the path to success.

“When people talk about the Inc. 5000, they talk about innovation,” says Chris Rodde, CEO of SeniorHomes.com. “At SeniorHomes.com, we emphasize a company culture that motivates our already-exceptional team to reach higher and achieve more. We try to cultivate an environment in which our team feels empowered to develop and pursue ideas that drive our company forward – a difficult thing to achieve in the modern business world – and that’s where true innovation lies, in the power of the collective.”

Our exceptional team is comprised of: compassionate and talented Care Advisors working with seniors and caregivers every day; expert writers who provide valuable content to help seniors and their families understand the many complexities of senior housing, senior care and aging; developers who work tirelessly to build and maintain the comprehensive national database and community rating system; and the many supporting staff members who handle various important tasks day in and day out. We all work together in a supportive and collaborative environment to ensure that SeniorHomes.com provides the best possible resources and services for the aging population.

All of this, of course, works in tandem to further the mission and realize the vision of our executive leadership team, who are responsible for cultivating a culture in which every employee feels valued and empowered to thrive. So far, it’s proven to be a winning combination, and we look forward to many more successes in the future as we continue to implement new ideas and find more innovative ways to provide valuable services to seniors and their loved ones.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of SeniorHomes.com!

The Last Stop: With Technology, We Try

I think our grands and great-grands find current technology easier than using a knife, fork or spoon. We marvel at them. Technology is not a challenge for children and teenagers; it's a way of life.

In contrast, my age-mates and I find new technology an ongoing struggle. We end up cursing at our smartphones and comp

uters and wish for the olden days.

I find that at my retirement community, computer frustration is a regular part of dinner conversation.

Read more about Margery’s efforts to become more tech-savvy—and why some of her friends choose not to embrace technology—in “Part 10: With Technology, We Try.”

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

Marijuana Laws Throw a Monkey Wrench in Senior Living Operations

The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has created some interesting challenges for the senior living industry, only further complicated by the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Colorado and Washington State.

With state and federal laws clashing in states which have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, senior living operators in these states must carefully craft policies to minimize legal risk. And that, it seems, is no simple matter. Medical marijuana challenges assisted living

While the Obama Administration has taken the stance that the federal government will not—and federal prosecutors should not—penalize prescribing physicians or approved patients or caregivers in states which have passed laws legalizing marijuana, it’s unclear what the future holds and presently, the government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. That means it’s deemed to have a high potential for addiction and has “no currently accepted medical use.”

Senior living providers are taking approaches ranging across the spectrum, with some permitting the use of medicinal marijuana but not centrally storing or dispensing it as they would another prescription medication. In this case, residents using marijuana for medicinal purposes must have a caregiver who can assist and obtain it via a third-party, outpatient provider — but these circumstances aren’t free of obstacles, either.

For some providers, the risk is too great to take, and they opt to prohibit the use of medical marijuana within their communities altogether to play it safe.It’s an interesting landscape that’s sure to change in the coming years, and will likely be a heavily-debated issue in the next presidential election. Until then, the policies of individual senior living providers are the determining factor in whether it’s possible to use marijuana for medical purposes as a resident in a senior living community.

For more on this widely-debated issue and where the current regulations stand, check out our article on the impacts of the legalization of marijuana on the senior living industry.

 

 

 

 

Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate: Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs in the Elderly a Growing Concern

You’ve probably heard devastating news stories about teens with promising futures dying of drug overdoses. No one likes to hear these stories, yet they’re becoming all-too common in society today.

What we don’t hear about is prescription drug abuse and other illicit drug use among senior citizens, yet it’s a growing problem that shouldn’t be ignored. Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

In fact, the misuse of prescription medications can be even more dangerous in the elderly due to physiological and psychological changes that occur with aging that make seniors more vulnerable to overdoses. A slower metabolism and lower body water content, for example, mean higher concentrations of substances in the body, which can lead to an overdose even with lower doses of medication than what typically leads to an overdose.

A recent article in USA Today shed light on what is a problematic practice in the healthcare community with dangerous consequences: Many seniors suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, and other age-related issues, and physicians readily — perhaps too readily — prescribe narcotics and anti-anxiety medications to provide symptomatic relief. But when multiple doctors begin prescribing painkillers, and seniors develop a tolerance to their medications, self-medicating with higher doses to achieve the same symptomatic relief is an easy solution to the immediate problem. What many seniors don’t realize, however, is that they’re creating a dangerous physical and even psychological dependence on prescription drugs.

Faced with the choice between suffering and the possibility of easy relief, most of us would choose the latter. For more information about the rising incidence of prescription drug misuse in older adults, what to look for if you suspect a loved one is misusing prescription medications, and why seniors are sometimes more likely to develop an addiction, read our article, “Prescription Drug and Substance Abuse Among Seniors on the Rise.”

Four Smart Strategies from Derek Zoolander that Can Help You Prevent Senior Dehydration

As Derek, the title character in “Zoolander,” said, “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” His words were silly, but his intentions were not.

Proper hydration is essential to life. More than half of our bodies are water. Water helps us digest food, keeps joints working properly and maintains blood pressure and body temperature. But many Americans—and many seniors—still do not drink enough water. Elderly dehydration is common both in assisted living or aging-in-place scenarios.

In this post, we’ll discuss dehydration matters and why seniors are at such great risk. Then, you’ll learn four smart strategies from Derek Zoolander to help prevent senior dehydration.

“I’m a hot little potato right now!”

Dehydration is a major problem for seniors and a leading contributor to elderly
hospitalizations. Thirsty seniors have higher risks of falling and more cognitive difficulty. Also, dehydrated seniors face medical conditions like urinary tract
'Zoolander' star Ben Stillerinfections, kidney stones or constipation. Taken to extremes, severe water loss leads to heat stroke or even death.

Now, the worse news: The natural process of aging makes seniors even more susceptible to dehydration. As we age, our bodies hold less water and we are less aware of body temperature changes. This makes seniors less likely to take in fluids to self-regulate temperature.

Complicating matters, many seniors have difficulty swallowing, so drinking water becomes a painful chore. Further, some seniors restrict their water consumption because of fears of age-related incontinence. Finally, many medications that seniors take cause diuresis, sweating or reduced thirst.

Taken altogether, we’ve got a recipe for a perfect storm for dehydrated seniors. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from international male model Derek Zoolander.

1. The “How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read … if they can’t even fit inside the building?” technique

Derek rejected the school because it was too small for children to fit. But many seniors face the opposite problem. How can we be expected to make sure our seniors drink if they can’t even hold the cups?

Know that your seniors also have a certain set of skills, but those are different than they used to be. The 50-ounce Big Gulp that appeals to a 20-something may look like a Crock-Pot to a 70-something. Help them out by focusing on small amounts first.

Make sure your loved ones have appropriately sized cups, utensils and cutlery. Cups with handles or lids or straws may help them drink in a comfortable manner.

Bonus tip: Place small water bottles around the home for seniors to carry around and keep near their bed. This helps seniors with mobility or memory issues get easy access to water.

2. The “Orange Mocha Frappuccino” technique

Derek’s friends helped him sort through important issues over a few Orange Mocha Frappuccinos. Derek and company knew they could get fluids from non-water sources as well.

Ignore the old “eight glasses of water” rule. Savvy seniors consume fluids in many variations. Add lemon or fruit to water as a hydration hack to make water taste better. One note of caution, though: Seniors should steer clear of alcohol and sugary sports beverages. The former has diuretic effects and the latter may aggravate diabetes.

Seniors can also add fluids by having soup with every meal. Opt for water or broth based soups rather than cream based soups.

Also, many plant-based foods have high water content. Melons, grapefruit, strawberries and raw tomatoes are great natural sources. Throw in raw vegetables and you have a nutritious and hydrating combination.

3. The “Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude!” technique

When Zoolander needed help, his friend, actor Billy Zane, was there. Be like Billy, and be a friend to a senior in need.

Tell your senior to check his weight daily. Weight loss may be an early sign of dehydration. If he is down a pound, make sure he drinks it up. Also, ask your senior to check his urine color. Make sure his urine is lemonade colored or lighter.

Not everyone lives close enough to their senior to provide daily hydration reminders. Remote caregivers should consider a medical reminder service. Medical reminder services check in with your senior at the same time(s) every day. These systems help make sure he/she remembers to drink enough water (or take proper medications) every day.

4. The “You can read minds?” technique

In one of the most memorable scenes in the film, Zoolander mistakes Matilda for a clairvoyant.

Well, Matilda couldn’t read minds and neither can you.

Rather than try to intuit how much water your senior is drinking, find out for sure. Option number one is to ask on a weekly basis. Let’s try option number two.

Home water delivery services can help seniors get enough water. If you deliver two bottles of water each month, you can use the delivery amounts to ensure your senior is consuming enough water. If the bottles aren’t moving fast, then your senior isn’t drinking enough.

Conclusion

Derek Zoolander only had one skill, “being really, really, really good looking.” Perhaps you don’t have chiseled abs and perfect cheek bones. But, you can use the four techniques above and keep your senior “mer-man” safe and hydrated.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is an NAHB Certified Aging In Place Expert and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home. As the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company, Shayne writes about issues that matter to seniors and those that care about them.



Assisted Living Costs Out of Reach? Apply for a Silver Scholarship

Senior housing costs have skyrocketed in the past several years, leaving many families worried about how they’ll cover the costs of assisted living or independent living for themselves or an aging loved one. In fact, studies have shown that many people believe that Medicaid will cover the costs of senior housing.

In reality, Medicaid will cover only the cost of nursing home care under specific circumstances, and in most cases, only after the resident’s personal finances have been depleted. Personal assets such as real estate are sometimes considered assets as well, making selling the family home to cover the cost of long-term care a very real possibility for many.

Senior living costs are out of reach for many

If you plan ahead, you might be able to work these costs into your retirement fund or obtain long-term care insurance. While more people are becoming aware of the eventual costs they’ll likely face as they age, many of today’s seniors didn’t have the advantage of planning ahead and are therefore left without a financial cushion or option to fall back on when the time comes to consider moving to senior housing.

With the cost of living rising rapidly in many parts of the country, coupled with longer life expectancies, it’s becoming increasingly common for seniors to outlive their savings.

The Silver Scholarship Foundation offers financial help to seniors in need

The Silver Scholarship Foundation

One non-profit organization aims to help seniors facing these circumstances. The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s vision is to “eliminate the care versus cost dilemma faced by many older adults,” raising money via public grants and charitable fundraising to help aging adults cover the costs for essential care and services they need but simply cannot afford.

The Silver Scholarship Foundation offers funding to approved seniors to cover costs such as:

  • Private pay companions
  • Rent and/or utilities
  • Food
  • Home health care
  • Assisted living
  • Residential dementia care

How do you qualify for a Silver Scholarship?

To qualify for a Silver Scholarship, individual applicants must be at least 65 years old, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Require a higher level of care than currently received, such as Memory Care, but unable to afford the upgrade.
  • Nearing a financial crisis with financial resources totaling less than six months’ living expenses.
  • Considering moving out of Assisted Living or having recently moved out due to inability to cover costs.
  • A wartime Veteran or the spouse of a wartime Veteran waiting for an Aid and Attendance pension to be processed.

Florida senior living communities may apply for Silver Star Certification Silver Star Certification

Senior living communities in Florida can also apply to become “Silver Star Certified,” meaning current and future residents are eligible to receive a Silver Scholarship financial grant to help cover the cost of care in part or in full. Through this effort, The Silver Scholarship Foundation helps to remove the “need versus cost” obstacle facing many seniors today.

Silver Star Certification is more than just an acknowledgement that residents may participate in The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s financial assistance programs, but also indicates that the community meets The Silver Scholarship Foundation’s quality of care standards. Certification is awarded after a careful review of previous state inspection surveys, a review of any complaints issued against the community, references from residents, families, and senior living professionals, and a walk-through of the community by representatives of The Silver Scholarship Foundation.

Applicants screened on multiple factors

Applicants are screened based on a variety of factors, such as savings, the potential costs of required care, home ownership, recurring medical expenses, VA eligibility, work history, social security income and pensions, long-term care insurance policies, current living costs and more. The screening process is designed to reserve funds for seniors who are truly in need and are out of options to cover the cost of care.

The initial application is simple to fill out; you can find it here. Once approved, applicants will receive a financial grant in a predetermined amount.

The Florida-based non-profit is 501(c)(3) status pending, and at present is accepting applications from residents from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties in Florida. If you’re located in another area, don’t worry: New areas open for application will be announced over time, and you can keep checking here for updates.

What if you need help now?

If you’re not a Florida resident located in one of the areas presently being served by The Silver Scholarship Foundation, you do have other options. Check out our Senior Finance Center for dozens of articles on paying for senior living, what to expect in terms of the long-term care costs, and alternative financing options such as reverse mortgages and life settlements.

 

Images via The Silver Scholarship Foundation

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Roommates Aren’t Just for Dorm Rooms: Seniors Find Companionship and Save Cash by Sharing Spaces

The rate at which seniors are becoming roommates is on the rise. They’re not exactly sharing chemistry notes and frat house addresses, but seniors are participating in homesharing programs being offered across the nation to be able stay in their homes and save money. The companionship they find is an added bonus. According to an AP story, “agencies that put such seniors together say the need appears to be growing as baby boomers age and struggle to deal with foreclosures, property taxes and rising rents.”

In most cases, elderly women who have been divorced or widowed need help with the upkeep of their house or apartment and have an extra room. So, they reach out to agencies specializing in homesharing to find somebody to live with who will pay rent. In some cases, people will barter for household help such as grocery shopping, housecleaning and repair work rather than charge rent; but, recently people have been in search of financial aid so they can keep their homes and remain a part of their community.

And, the companionship home sharers gain in the process is a definite plus. According to Kirby Dunn, executive director of Homeshare Vermont in Burlington, “Independence is great but isolation as we age is a growing concern, so companionship can be almost life-altering. People are telling us they’re happier, sleeping better, eating better.” Some homesharing matches find a lifelong friend and others find someone they can trust and respect while sharing living space. They may not all be Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia, but the home sharers definitely are finding a solution to a potential housing crisis.

Various agencies across the country are helping people find housemates, whether they live in apartments or houses. Most offer services that include matching people to ideal candidates through screening processes to determine compatibility, much like those of online dating sites. And, seniors are taking advantage of those services offered by agencies because it is more efficient and safer than posting notices in local stores, paying for advertisements in newspapers, or posting online to sites such as Craigslist. While not a comprehensive list, the agencies listed below are some of the most reputable and successful in the country.

HomeShare Vermont

A small non-profit organization based out of Burlington, VT, HomeShare Vermont already has helped nearly 100 people remain in their home and found affordable housing for 83 people so far in the 2014 fiscal year. Operating since 1982 (formerly known as Project Home), HomeShare Vermont has 14 staff volunteers who contribute to the screening and matching process. HomeShare Vermont prides themselves on tailoring their services to individuals and remaining actively involved with their matches to offer assistance as their needs change or any challenges arise. HomeShare Vermont requires a one-time non-refundable $30 processing fee for all applicants and charges a Match Fee based on a sliding scale, depending on income. HomeShare also resizes to deny services to individuals who cannot afford their fees; fees can be reduced or waived in cases of hardship. While their primary goal is to help elders remain in their home, they do not have any age, ability or income restrictions in their services. They have found “that people of all ages and abilities can benefit from homesharing.”

Open Communities

Open Communities’ Homesharing program matches residents in the north suburbs of Chicago who have extra rooms with renters who need them. They have facilitated more than 700 matches since 1985 through their free, award-winning shared housing program. Open Communities’ Homesharing is ideal for homeowners, renters, and older adults with disabilities. Their screening process includes prescreening both homeowners and renters and includes getting to know applicants’ personalities, living habits, and expectations. To take part in the Open Communities Homesharing program, homeowners must have a separate bedroom to rent and be willing to share kitchen and laundry facilities. Renters are required to have a minimum monthly income of $1,000 and excellent references.

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens

The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is dedicated to helping New York seniors enjoy life by remaining in their own homes and communities and avoiding being prematurely institutionalized. The Foundation’s free Home Sharing Program links adult “hosts” who have extra bedrooms in their homes or apartments with appropriate adult “guests” to share their space. At least one of the housemates must be age 60 or over, or the program will match “hosts” age 55 and over with developmentally disabled adult “guests” capable of independent living. The Foundation’s Professional Social Work staff screen all applicants and use QUICK-MATCH, a unique database to help them find the most compatible matches by inputting 31 lifestyle objectives. Once matches have been determined, the staff schedule “match meetings” to facilitate potential hosts and guests in determining their compatibility and willingness to home share. The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens also reports that applications for homesharing through their program have tripled since 2008.

HIP Housing

HIP Housing has helped individuals in San Mateo County, California, live happier, more independent lives for more than 40 years. Their mission is to improve housing and the lives of people in their community and enable people with special needs, either from income or circumstance, to live independent, self-sufficient lives in decent, safe, low-cost homes. HIP Housing offers two types of Homesharing: rent exchange and service exchange. In rent exchange, a home provider is matched with a home seeker who pays rent. In service exchange, a home provider is matched with a home seeker who exchanges services in lieu of or for reduced rent. HIP Housing arranges for applicants to complete an interview and a screening process and offers other services including Personal Housing Coordinator, home visits to seniors and home-bound individuals, Facilitation of Living Together Agreements and more.

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center is Baltimore’s oldest nonprofit housing provider and has served over 118,000 families since 1968. With innovative and evolving programs, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center helps 3,000 low- and moderate-income families each year. The St. Ambrose Homesharing program matches homeowners offering an extra room in their home with someone looking for an affordable room to rent; the matches are based on varying levels of compatibility. Applicants can rest assured that their homesharing experience will be positive because St. Ambrose staff has years of experience and carefully screens each applicant through interviewing, background checking, and personal reference contacting. St. Ambrose homesharing staff also facilitate each homesharing contract and provides regular follow-up services while empowering home sharers to negotiate and create their own successful living arrangements. St. Ambrose operates in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Other homesharing resources:

Golden Girl Homes, Inc. - an organization dedicated to promoting and advancing shared housing, particularly for older women by providing information about shared housing and creating networking opportunities for women

HomeSharing, Inc. – an organization in New Jersey providing homesharing solutions in Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Morris and Union counties

National Shared Housing Resource Center (NSHR) - a clearinghouse of information for people looking to find a shared housing organization in their community, or for people looking to begin a program in their area

Image via Flickr by Arlington County
Post by Angela Stringfellow

Joan’s Journey: Celebrate the Moments

July 4, 2014, was more than a patriotic day for Goldie, a resident of senior hotel Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica, Calif. This splendid holiday was also Goldie’s 100th birthday. Goldie joined the prestigious ranks of centurions—people who have lived to or beyond 100 years.

A delicious barbecue at HVE featured traditional hot dogs, hamburgers and Joan's Journey - Goldie turns 100spicy chicken wings. A mariachi band played while residents, guests and caregivers danced. But the highlight of the celebration occurred when Goldie stood, party-goers applauded and the band serenaded Goldie with “Happy Birthday to You.” As Goldie basked in the beauty of the moment, 104-year-old Jack applauded from a nearby table. Jack is on his way to becoming a supercentenarian—one who has lived to or beyond 110 years.

Welcome, Joan’s Journeyers. Here’s a bit of centenarian trivia. In 2012, the United Nations estimated there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. Only 33 people worldwide have indisputably reached 115 years.

John W. Santrock, author of “A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development,” identifies seven factors most important to becoming a centenarian:

  • Heredity and family history;
  • Health, weight and diet;
  • History of past or current smoking;
  • Amount of exercise;
  • Educational level;
  • Personality; and
  • Lifestyle.

Santrock notes the largest groups of centenarians are women who have never been married and people who have been through traumatic life events and learned to cope. Moreover, centenarian lifestyles often include:

  • Nourishment rich in grains, fish, and vegetables;
  • Food plan light in meats, eggs, and dairy products;
  • Low stress;
  • Caring community where seniors are not isolated;
  • Proper health care and personal care;
  • Emphasis on activities like walking and gardening; and
  • Spirituality, where a sense of purpose comes from involvement and prayer eases the mind.
CAT Brings Centurion Lifestyle Changes

Joan's Journey - HVE Resident dances with aide on July 4Joan’s Journeyers, why in a blog series about senior living residences am I presenting a mini-geriatrics seminar? Perhaps it’s obvious from my lead. Our centenarians, Goldie and Jack, magnificently represent folks living the lifestyles described by Santrock. Goldie, Jack and I live in a senior living community that exemplifies centurions.

In the last Joan’s Journey, I described three key words that spell “CAT.” “C” represents changes occurring in my daily life at HVE. “A” stands for the necessary acceptance of new, different and potentially negative situations that may occur. “T” relates to the permission of time I’ve given myself to become comfortable with the changes. In upcoming blogs, I will discuss life as a resident of HVE and how I accept and cope with CAT and a centurion lifestyle.

Journeyers, have you encountered CAT at senior living or along life’s Journey? SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your experiences below. Until the next Joan’s Journey, enjoy the trip, day by day.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, now specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren. Follow all of Joan’s Journey at SeniorHomes.com.

Cynics Beware: Your Attitude Might Triple Your Dementia Risk, Study Says

People with a cynical attitude might be placing their health at risk, according to research published in the May 28, 2014 issue of Neurology®, which is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Cynicism linked to brain health

Specifically, this study finds that individuals who are generally distrusting of others and those with a cynical outlook have triple the risk of developing dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, compared to their less-cynical counterparts. Cynical distrust is the belief that people are generally self-serving and motivated only by selfish desires, and it’s an attitude that’s been associated with other health problems, such as heart disease, in previous research. 

This latest study, supported by the University of Eastern Finland, the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and the Swedish Society for Medical Research and the Finnish National Graduate School of Clinical Investigation, finds a clear link between cynicism and brain health, based on the results of tests for dementia and questionnaires designed to measure the level of cynicism given to 1,449 participants.

Are you cynical?

The questionnaire, proven to be reliable and producing consistent results in the same individuals over a several-year period, asks participants whether they agree with statements such as:

  • “I think most people would lie to get ahead.”
  • “It is safer to trust nobody.”
  • “Most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it.”

A total of 622 participants completed two tests for dementia, with the last test given eight years after the study began. Forty-six participants were diagnosed with dementia during that period.

After adjusting for other factors that could have contributed to the risk of developing dementia, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, the results showed that those who scored high on the cynicism test (deemed to have a high level of cynical distrust) were three times as likely to develop dementia as those with low levels of cynicism.

Mercola points out links between attitude and physical health

Dr. Mercola is no stranger to promoting the link between attitude and physical health, often touting the benefits of reduced stress and positive thoughts on overall well-being. In response to the study linking cynicism to brain health, he points out that prior research has also linked cynicism to other negative health impacts:

  • Women who have hostile and cynical outlooks are more likely to die prematurely than those with a positive outlook. They also have higher rates of death from coronary heart disease.
  • Cynical people have higher stress levels and often lack the positive social support systems compared to those with  positive attitudes.
  • Cynicism is associated with poor oral health.
  • Cynicism can slow the metabolism in middle age and beyond.

Drawing the logical conclusion between cynicism and poor health

It’s not difficult to draw a logical connection between cynicism and negative health consequences. Stress triggers a hormone known as the “stress” hormone, or cortisol, which sends the body into protection mode and conserves energy — in other words, preserves fat stores so that your body has energy resources should food become unavailable.

While that may be unlikely to actually occur, it’s a physiological response that humans have maintained through adaptation.This increased storage of fat contributes to weight gain and obesity, which of course is linked to diabetes, heart disease and all kinds of health concerns. And numerous studies have linked those very health conditions to an increased likelihood of developing dementia.

Being happy might not prevent dementia, but it sure can’t hurt

So it’s not difficult to draw a logical conclusion that a negative attitude is, in general, not a good thing for your body. While research hasn’t yet shown that any of these things actually cause dementia, only that the presence of one increases the odds that the same individual will eventually develop dementia, it’s probably safe to assume that having a more positive attitude can only benefit your physical health by reducing stress and making you more amenable to certain situations, such as a friend asking you to take a hike on a warm, sunny day.

Above all, though, life is generally more enjoyable when you approach it with a happy, healthy mindset. So if you’re feeling cynical, make an effort to lighten your mood. Participate in activities that tend to relax you and make you feel happy, like reading a book, taking a walk through the neighborhood, visiting a friend or volunteering at a local senior center. Make a concerted effort to focus on the good and you just might shift your general outlook on life. You’ll feel better when you stop focusing on the things that make you feel cynical, and your body and brain will thank you for it, too.

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Washington State Senior Games: “We helped start this”

For our final article in our senior games coverage, we are highlighting Lisbeth and Dave Naber, long-time residents of Panorama in Lacey, Wash., and active participants of the senior games since 1990. It is because of their and other sports-minded seniors’ efforts in the late 1990s that Washington State has its own senior games.

Lisbeth and her shot putSeeing the fun other seniors were having at the Pennsylvania Senior Games convinced Lisbeth and Dave Naber to participate themselves. Lisbeth recalls reading about the games in a newspaper, and after attending the event to learn all about it, they signed up the next year. When they joined the games in 1990, the Nabers were in their 60s, the average age of most competitors, and 25 years later, Lisbeth is still participating.

Lisbeth, who grew up in Denmark, says she spent a lot of time on her bicycle as a child, but wasn’t really into sports. But you wouldn’t think that, looking at the number of events she has participated in over the years at the senior games.

At their first senior games in Pennsylvania, Lisbeth competed in the 1.5k and 2.4k race walks and the softball throw, while Dave competed in the 1.5k race walk, stationary bike and basketball. Lisbeth’s time in the 1.5k earned her a silver medal and a qualifying time for the 1991 National Senior Games in Syracuse, N.Y. These medals were the first of what is now a box full.

Medals Lisbeth has won over the years at the senior gamesThe following year, they again participated in the state games, and Lisbeth qualified for and attended the 1993 national games in Baton Rouge, La. The following year found them moving to Lacey to be near family and settling in at Panorama, a continuing care retirement community. “When we moved out here, there were no senior games in Washington,” Lisbeth says, and they had to compete in Nevada. Without the support of a statewide organization to handle the ceremony logistics for the Washington seniors attending the 1995 San Antonio games, the Washington athletes had to oversee the preparations themselves: Ron Muth organized the uniforms and hats, while Lisbeth had to borrow a state flag from a local Lions Club.

To qualify for the 1997 National Senior Games, they competed in Montana, and this time Dave qualified for nationals in the 1.5 and 5k race walks. A year later found them both in Tucson, Ariz., not only competing but also inquiring as to how to bring the senior games to Washington.

In July 1997, Lisbeth organized a meeting that had many fellow athletes in attendance, some of whom she met in Tucson. The group formally established the Washington State Senior Games (WSSG) corporation, and Lisbeth was elected the state coordinator. But creating the WSSG was just the start of the work. Lisbeth credits State Senator and friend Karen Fraser for contacting the Olympia YMCA in 1996 to organize a senior games in Thurston County (where there were more volunteers than athletes). The following year had a larger games, which included participants from the surrounding counties, and finally the first official Washington State Senior Games in 1998.

WSSG - Lisbeth Shot PutLisbeth say she loved being the first state coordinator for the Washington State Senior Games because of the administrative and computer work involved. Her skills were tested during the WSSG’s early years. From 1997 to 1999, Lisbeth worked to develop the administrative infrastructure of the WSSC: writing the bylaws, tracking the qualifying athletes (which required multiple reports and many phone calls to the national office) and assisting in starting local senior games across the state. In 1998, 500 athletes competed in the first statewide Washington State Senior Games, and 300 qualified for nationals in Orlando, Fla.

Washington isn’t the only state which benefited from Lisbeth’s support of senior games. She also helped start the senior games in Hawaii; she and Dave earned the honor of carrying the torch at the first games’ opening ceremony.

Lisbeth left the administrative role of the senior games in 1999—“I had been doing so much,” she says—and she returned to just competing and enjoying herself. She has competed nearly every year, and it has become a family affair with her daughter also joining in. “It’s good for us to be active,” Lisbeth says.

The events she competes in now are shot put and road races, and she likes the latter event better than race walking because there are “no rules.” When competing in the race walk in Baton Rouge in 1993, Lisbeth says she, along with 300 others, were disqualified because of a bent knee that the judge saw. After that, “I was always careful to not get disqualified.”

Lisbeth and the Olympic Torch at PanoramaLisbeth’s active spirit inspired Dave to nominate her to carry the Olympic torch when it traveled through Olympia before the 2002 Salt Lake City games. The torch is on display at Panorama in its Fitness Center. While Panorama has the walking paths that Lisbeth needs to practice for her road race, it doesn’t have a shot put area, so she visits St. Martin’s University to practice. Panorama has also been a long-time sponsor of the senior games, even hosting events in the past , and the company’s reason for supporting the games is simple—they support seniors who embrace being healthy and the organizations which encourage active retirement. “We believe the senior games is probably the best example of changing the stereotype [of aging],” says Howard Burton, Panorama’s marketing director.

And Lisbeth is doing just that. “I am, as a matter of fact, very healthy,” she boasts, “[I] had a blood test in April—everything is perfect.” At this year’s games, being 86 meant she was the oldest female shot put participant. While looking around at all the people who were spending the day competing alongside her, Lisbeth observed, “And to think we helped start this for all these people here.”

Andrea Watts is content writer for SeniorHomes.com. In addition to covering senior living, she also writes on sustainable forestry and agriculture issues. Her writings have appeared in publications which include TimberWest, The Forestry Source, EARTH  and Acres U.S.A.