Archive for category: Healthy Aging

Happy and You Know It: 10 Real Ways to Attain Happiness

Within the past couple of decades, there have been numerous studies on happiness and how to attain it. While there haven’t been any groundbreaking discoveries, a team of international researchers were able to pinpoint certain activities that are actually achievable.

Seeking Happiness

In the study, the team came up nearly 70 ways people are often told how to be happier. That number alone shows that this is a widely studied topic and people are often seeking ways to achieve happiness and lead more fulfilled lives.

Researchers then asked academic experts on the science of happiness to rate those dozens of ways to determine which ones were most feasible and effective.

Achievable Strategies

At the top of the list, they found these 10 strategies can lead to greater happiness:

  1. Invest in time with friends and family
  2. Join a club
  3. Be active both mentally and physically
  4. Practice your religion
  5. Get regular physical exercise
  6. Be nice to others
  7. Be generous
  8. Check your health
  9. Experience nature
  10. Socialize with colleagues outside of work

For the complete list, which includes volunteering, sleep and gardening, click here.

About Advena Living

At Advena Living, we believe our community members should continue to enjoy the simple daily pleasures, rituals and activities that make them who they are.

We know that moving to a long-term care or assisted living community can be a challenge. That’s why our team works to ensure that new residents do not feel alone and are comfortable in their new environment. We strive to make the concept of “home” a real thing for everyone who lives at our communities, no matter how they define it.

Advena Living is a family-owned company that specializes in skilled nursing, long-term care, rehab and assisted living services throughout Kansas. Our name “Advena” means newcomer.  We welcome newcomers seeking a senior living environment where they may continue to enjoy a full life, and where their personal choices are respected and upheld.

Lonely Hearts Club: Socially Isolated Older Women at Risk for Heart Disease

Harry Nilsson sang about one being the loneliest number. And he wasn’t the only one. While being alone may not be good for the proverbial heart, it also could have effects on cardiovascular health.

A new study finds being socially isolated and having feelings of loneliness may increase the risk of heart disease in older women.

The recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at nearly 58,000 women 65 years and older over the course of eight years. None of the participants in the study had a history of heart disease.

It found women who had both greater social isolation and higher level of loneliness had a 13% to 27% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who were more social and less isolated.

Changes in Life

The study points out that life changes in this age group, like retirement and loss of friends and family, only add to the risk of social isolation and loneliness. The current pandemic where people are continuing to socially distance doesn’t do much to curb the problem.

Although this study focuses on older women, isolation and loneliness can affect elderly men as well. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found more than 30% of older adults report feeling lonely and 25% report feeling isolated.

Moving into a Community

Moving into a long-term care or assisted living community can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. Staff at our Advena Living communities encourage socialization and engagement in a variety of activities. Our social services directors hold regular resident council meetings and encourage feedback, so they can plan events and activities that community members want to do. Sharing a meal or going for a stroll with your new neighbors can also help provide a much-needed social outlet.

About Advena Living

Advena Living communities offer long-term care, skilled nursing and assisted living services at multiple locations in Kansas. We are dedicated to the vision that each person has value, and we should honor their individual choices. When a person moves into one of our Advena Living communities, our goal is to welcome them and their family as new members of our extended family. We work hard to accommodate what they want their schedule to be and what choice they want to make.

Making Mondays Matter: Health Habits That Stick

The start of the new year is often filled with optimism. Resolutions are made and one-word intentions are set for who we want to become, what we hope to achieve, and what we need to change. For many people, those goals are centered around improving their health.

Still at the top of the resolutions list are exercising more, eating healthier or losing weight, and quitting smoking, according to various studies. The problem is that many people don’t follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. A report from U.S. News & World Report found that 80% of resolutions fail. Most are abandoned as early as the middle of February.

As we try to make choices to improve our health, it can be discouraging when we fail. But we need to give ourselves grace and the option to start over. The Monday Campaign, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, started a public health initiative for a “fresh start” Monday mindset. Their research showed people are most open to positive change at the start of the week, and view Mondays as a time to re-set.

In the full report, the study’s authors Jillian Fry, MPH and Roni Neff, PhD, MS seek to “reframe Monday as a positive experience and an opportunity to begin the week with a new perspective.” In fact, during their research, they found that more than half of the 1,500 adults they surveyed viewed Monday as a day to “get their act together or a day for a fresh start.” Almost half of those surveyed said they would start a diet or new exercise program on a Monday.

The Healthy Monday Refresh proposes that by setting intentions in the beginning of the week we can develop lasting habits over time. The steps to making it happen couldn’t be easier: set an intention, pick an action, and make it happen. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, there’s always next Monday.

At Advena Living, we welcome individuals to our community who are looking to make positive changes for their overall health and wellbeing Monday and every other day of the week– whether it’s a short-term rehab stay to get your strength back after surgery, or it’s a move to an assisted living facility or nursing home because you need a little extra help. By following a person-centered care philosophy, we respect and accommodate community member’s individual choices, while trying to make them feel at home. Our team values your input as we develop specific health plans to get you on the right track.

Calming Music at Bedtime: Improving Sleep for Older Adults

Ask any parent or grandparent how to put a fussy baby to sleep, and they’ll tell you to play or sing a lullaby. The soft, lilting notes of a lullaby have long been known for putting babies and children fast asleep. What many didn’t realize until recently is that calming music can be just as effective for sleep problems among older adults.

According to HealthinAging.org, as many as 40 percent of older adults experience insomnia, and up to 70 percent have some type of sleep problem – like trouble falling to sleep, waking up too early, or waking up several times during the night. Sleep problems are nothing to yawn at either. Poor sleep can lead to falls, accidents, memory problems, depression, or just plain feeling irritable the next day.

Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids have their own list of side-effects, so a prescription for calming music as the solution to sleep problems might be just what the doctor orders.

The study defines calming music as music with a “slow tempo of 60 to 80 beats per minute and a smooth melody.” Rhythmic music that is faster and louder is not as helpful, studies showed. The researchers believe calming music lowers levels of stress and anxiety, slows heart rate and breathing, and lowers blood pressure.

Listening to music for longer than four weeks, apparently, is more effective for improving sleep quality than shorter efforts – so if it doesn’t work the first time, keep playing the music for 30 minutes or more each night for at least a month.

At Advena Living, we love improving the lives of the people who are part of our assisted living, long-term care and skilled nursing communities. There are all sorts of cutting-edge medical interventions for health issues that arise, but there are also simple little techniques that can make people’s lives better. We believe in the power of a calming environment, not just in a musical sense, but also in the look, feel and freedom we provide our community members. Reach out to us today for assistance with any questions you have or problems you’d like to discuss, including sleep issues.

About Advena Living

Advena, which is Latin for newcomer, is built on welcoming newcomers to our communities and creating a culture that means “home” to them. Because our community members are considered part of our extended family, we give them the flexibility and freedom to live the life they want, while providing the person-centered care they need. Your life, your choice – welcome home.

Finding Your Superpowers: Nine Keys to a Long & Happy Life

Last month, we introduced you to the concept of the Blue Zones lifestyle and its patented blueprint for happiness. Through their blue zone research, experts were able to extract nine lifestyle habits helping so many in “blue zone” populations reach the age of 100 with health and happiness. Dan Buettner of National Geographic, who helped spearhead this research, calls them the Power 9.

Think of the Power 9 as your very own superpowers, and find ways to fold them into your lifestyle or your loved one’s lifestyle:

  1. Move – and do it in ways that blend naturally into your lifestyle and are not stressful (e.g., gardening, dancing, hiking, etc.)
  2. Find purpose
  3. Downshift and de-stress
  4. Eat less meat and more plants – especially beans (yes, the musical fruit)
  5. 80/20 rule – stop eating before you’re full (stop yourself at maybe 80% full) and try to stop eating after an early dinner
  6. Have wine with that dinner (and at Advena you can)
  7. Belong to a faith community – it’s been consistently proven to add years to your life
  8. Put your loved ones first – invest in your children, love your partner for a lifetime, remain involved in the lives of your elders
  9. Find your right tribe – choosing the right people to surround yourself with can be critical. Bad habits are contagious, but so are good ones

At Advena, we want you to live long – and live well. Making a decision to choose Advena for yourself or a loved one is an easy way to achieve many of the goals on Buettner’s Power 9 list. Opportunities to live the Power 9 are all here for you and your family.

Developing a strategy for living longer and living well is something all of us at Advena hold as our first priority. That’s why we’re always doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – for a long time to come. Practice makes perfect, and we’d like to think we’ve developed a few superpowers of our own.

You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website for details about diet, lifestyle and all the other details Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

Charting a Course to Your Very Own ‘Blue Zone’ – to Live Your Best Life Yet!

Being blue for 100 years might sound like a bad thing, but some of the latest research on longevity and human well-being suggests it just might be the thing to make you happy. Have you heard all the buzz about Blue Zones yet?

It all started back in 1999, when a couple of demographic researchers – think of them as the Lewis and Clark on the frontiers of living well – noticed a high concentration of healthy, happy men living to be a hundred. These male centenarians were concentrated in a group of villages in Sardinia, Italy.

The researchers, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, used a blue pen to draw concentric circles on a map identifying these villages. After their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Gerontology, a National Geographic fellow named Dan Buettner began building on their work and identified other longevity hotspots in the world that he dubbed “blue zones.”

Buettner worked with a team of researchers and experts to isolate the reasons for the longevity and well-being witnessed in these Blue Zones. The upshot of their work was a list of nine lifestyle habits – what Buettner calls the Power 9 – that were responsible for all the long, happy lives – of not just men but women, too.

Of course, there are no guarantees that adopting these lifestyle habits will make you happy or healthy, much less extend your life, but the odds are in your favor. After all, your good genes will only get you so far, accounting for only 25 percent of life expectancy. That means your lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on how long you live and how happy you are.

Discovering the fountain of youth has been a human endeavor since humans began figuring out how to escape saber tooth tigers. Developing a strategy for living your best – and longest – life is something all of us at Advena also believe is important. So we’ve been doing our homework in creating our living communities to keep our residents healthy – and happy.

Yes, happiness was another feature Buettner found in the Blue Zones. In his latest book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People, Buettner explained that we would be surprised to learn what truly makes us happy.

Surprisingly, safety and security are among the most important factors that makes people happy. Having financial security makes you happier than conspicuous consumption. Living in a community where you can walk or bike where you need to go makes you happier than having to drive. Believe it or not, people who go to the dentist more often rate higher on the happiness scale.

Another factor – one that’s not so surprising – is the importance of minimizing isolation. Buettner found that prioritizing at least five to six hours of daily socialization was crucial. The old Barbra Streisand song “People” reminds us that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” but apparently, they’re the happiest people in the world, too.

So how does Advena rank on the happiness scale? At Advena, we’ve long understood the importance of community. We design our living communities to minimize isolation and maximize opportunities for socializing with friends, family, Advena staff and other residents. Safety and security are hallmarks of Advena communities.

Buettner’s book targets 50 evidence-based ways to reshape not so much yourself (unlike most self-help theories) but your surroundings. Even if you’ve had trouble changing yourself, changing your surroundings can have a huge impact, Buettner believes. (Who says the geographic cure can’t work?)

In a 2017 National Geographic article, Buettner featured Costa Rica, Denmark and Singapore as three of the happiest places on earth. The article also singled out 25 of the happiest communities in the U.S. You can read more on Buettner’s Blue Zones website about diet, lifestyle and all the other factors Buettner’s team identified as conducive to living the Blue Zone life.

Also, stay turned for our second article in this series next month where we’ll take a deep dive into the Power 9 Buettner believes are crucial factors for living to 100 and beyond. We’ll give you one to practice with until next month: find a routine that sheds stress for you. Be it meditation, yoga, walking, praying, reading or any of a multitude of paths to finding peace. The important thing is simplifying and de-stressing life to live longer and better.

We’ll explore the rest of the Power 9 in more detail next time.

National Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, which helps to increase awareness of Parkinson’s disease in the United States. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system that affects motor skills.