Live life like you mean it, stay strong and laugh

Before I launch into the topic of today, I’d like to acknowledge all the people who came out for the Kidney Health Workshop at the Kauai Veterans Center last Friday. We had fun, learned a lot and had some ono food. The responses to these workshops has been overwhelming, and the coordinators have added a second series to happen in March.

If you are interested in learning about your kidney health, learn how to eat and cook healthily for your kidneys, exercise and develop healthy lifestyle habits to protect your kidney health, please contact Dawn Pasikala R.N. (education programs coordinator) at 589-5905 or dawn@kidneyhi.org. We still have some spots open for the March sessions. Looking forward to seeing you there!

National Senior Independence Month gives us a chance to think about senior independence and what that means. For many who qualify as seniors, we are still vital and strong and never even think about being over the age limit. For others, for whatever reason, northward of 60 is not as great as it could or should be. To maintain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible, we must pay attention to the fundamentals of health. This means eating well, being physically active, being mentally active, hanging out with fun, intelligent and social friends, and keeping our medical, dental and eye appointments on schedule.

In your home, are there places where you could take a tumble or accidently walk into something? The home is where the heart is, but it is also where a lot of accidents can happen if it is not kept tidy and safe. Make sure that rooms are well lit, and use night lights throughout the house. Especially, make sure that hallways and stairs are well lit to avoid taking a tumble. Keep clutter off the floors and walkways. Get electric wires out of the way and put things back where they belong rather than letting them pile up in the way.

Are the open spaces wide enough to walk through without getting caught up on some obstruction? If you are living with someone who is unable to see well, keep the furniture in the same spot rather than redecorating. Installing grip bars in the bathroom near the shower, bath tub and commode help those without the strength to stand unassisted, to rise up using their arms. Make sure that mats are either non-slip mats or use double-sided tape on them to secure them.

Keeping often used items within reach so no one must stand on a stool or even up on tip-toes to reach them can save seniors from a fall. Everything that is used often should be easily accessible, no higher than shoulder level, and of course this includes daily vitamins or medicines. Are the faucets and door handles easily managed? All of these suggestions are for seniors that are not compromised by mental or memory issues. If you are living with a senior who has memory problems or wandering problems then a whole other set of circumstances apply.

Of course, anyone wanting to stay healthy and independent must exercise to stay strong, Iimber and have balance and coordination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being inactive is one of the major risks factors for falls in older adults. Strength training, yoga and walking are activities that can improve all dimensions of your physical health.

Eating right is always fundamental to living well. Eating with fresh and local produce in mind, low fat, low sodium, low sugar and high nutrition all fit the bill. If cooking no longer appeals to you there are some very good nutritional products available that are formulated for optimizing nutrition. The nice thing about that is there is no fuss, no cleanup and no spoilage. If you want more information about that you can call me.

Finally, there are other things that you can do to maintain a youthful outlook and maintain independence. Learn a new skill like a new computer program, or texting. It will keep you mentally sharp and also connected socially. Your experience and skills are needed in the community. Get involved with some likeminded people and make a difference. Get creative! Maybe there is a side of you that has gone undiscovered. Why not try painting or sculpting or some other artsy endeavor just for fun?

The other thing that I think is important as a safety measure is to wear an ID bracelet, just in case, with a close relative’s name and phone number on it. Anyone can run into problems and it is good to have a number to call.

Live your life as though you mean it. Live, love and laugh often. The senior years can be the best ones. Fewer responsibilities and more time to fill with things and people that you love. I wish you well.

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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