Monthly Archives: April 2014

Earth Day 2014: How the Environment Impacts Aging

elderly couple nature

 

On Earth Day, we take a moment to consider how our actions impact the Earth; however, it’s also important to take note of how the environment can affect aging.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that its mission is “to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment,” going on to clarify that this means focusing effort on older Americans because the older population will grow to over 70 million by 2030, and aging bodies have been exposed to more environmental contaminants over time and are more susceptible to environmental hazards. According to the EPA, some common environmental hazards that impact the health of older Americans are climate change, lead, mercury, ozone gas, particle pollution, pesticides, temperature extremes, and water contaminants.

Medical research has also found that environmental factors play a role in most Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease cases. Exposure to toxic chemicals and other environmental pollutants can change biochemical pathways that affect the risk of developing these diseases and other chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

The Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging resource dives deeper into environmental risk factors in developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. They found that exposure to environmental chemicals and infectious materials interact with other lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical activity, social interaction, education, socioeconomic factors, and active intellectual stimulation.  The research also notes that, with specific regards to brain disease, many environmental chemicals increase oxidative stress (which is when the body is unable to counteract or detoxify the harmful effects of free radicals) and inflame the brain, increasing the risk of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Environmental chemicals (such as lead and other heavy metals, organic pollutants, and pesticides) can also strike earlier in life by altering brain development, which increases the risk of later developing a brain disease. Finally, recent evidence suggests that air pollution affects brain inflammation and the risk of a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.

On a more uplifting note, there are ways to improve the environment and thus, our population’s chances at healthy aging. Because humans and the environment are so interconnected, living a healthy lifestyle means living well for yourself and for the environment. A healthy individual helps improve the environment, and vice versa. Humans can buy organic and chemical-free products, choose to purchase local and sustainable food, use clean, renewable energy, and decrease fossil fuel consumption. Making small changes in your lifestyle will benefit both the environment and your health, allowing you to age at home in a healthy manner.

What Benefits Do I Quality For? Programs to Help with Aging at Home

Elderly man and money

 

When comparing the costs of aging at home versus in a nursing home, many people forget to factor in government benefit programs. Medicare does not presently cover stair lifts or bathtub lifts such as those sold at Home Access Products, because they do not consider stair lifts or bath tub lifts “a medical necessity.” However, there are other programs available to help lessen your financial burden in other areas. With the help of a few simple websites, you can see if you qualify for any such programs and how the programs can help you age comfortably in your own home.

Benefits CheckUp has helped almost four million people find over $14 billion worth of benefits. This website helps seniors find programs that help pay for food, medicine, and more. The website’s form can be filled out by seniors or adult children and asks questions about any current benefits, veteran status, chronic conditions, housing, income, and more to help users find programs that they may be eligible for. The questionnaire gives instructions for each step and offers clarification on questions that may confuse users, making it easy for seniors to fill out on their own or with their adult children.

Benefits.gov features over 1,000 benefits programs from 17 Federal partners. The site divides its questionnaire into Core, General, Household, Education, Health, Income & Assistance, and Work Experience. While this site is not focused on only seniors, it still offers a comprehensive list of benefit programs that the user may be eligible for. The first question, in fact, asks users to check the specific types of benefits they are looking for; seniors interested in aging at home may wish to check Disability Assistance, Food/Nutrition, Healthcare, Housing, Insurance, Living Assistance, Medicaid/Medicare, Military: Active Duty and Veterans, and/or Social Security/Retirement, depending on each user’s unique situation.

In addition to these websites, seniors may wish to explore local churches, charities, or other private organizations for financial assistance. The Veterans Affairs office is a helpful resource for veterans, and the state’s Department of Human Services office is set up to help those who have limited funds. The Illinois Department of Human Services, for example, offers many Private and Government Home Modification Resources as part of their Home Modification and Assistive Technology services. Also, any township office will typically have funding available for helping citizens pay for aging at home technology. Finally, local Senior Services programs oversee a variety of programs that will help address the needs and health requirements of local senior citizens.

In addition to state- and federally-run programs, you can fund your aging at home technology by charging the stair lift or bathtub lift to a credit card and paying it off in monthly installments, or by having your family contribute to the cost. The money you’ll save in the long run by not being in a nursing home makes your aging at home technology a solid investment.

Cost should never prohibit you from aging at home, but with a little searching, you can find an abundance of available resources to help you continue living in the comfort of your own homes.

Keys to a Longer Life

elderly couple

 

Want to live longer? Recent longevity studies have uncovered some characteristics and behaviors of longer lives. The average American life expectancy is currently 78.7 years, and what’s more, longevity studies have shown that there are certain healthy behaviors and personality traits that can help you achieve that long, full lifespan.

Personality and Positivity

One longevity study used the NEO Five-Factor Personality Inventory (in which the five factors are neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) to explore whether participants (with a mean age of 75) had particular traits in common. The study found that both men and women scored low on the neuroticism scale and high on the extroversion scale; both personality traits may have health benefits, because someone with low neuroticism tendencies will be able to manage stressful situations while an extrovert may also experience greater perceived well-being and vitality. Another study found that conscientiousness is also strongly correlated with a longer life, speculating that this was because conscientious people are more health-conscious and take better care of themselves.

Other personal characteristics associated with a longer life include being optimistic, being quick to laugh, and simply being happy. Optimists are resistant and resilient in the face of stress, and laughter reduces stress, improves natural killer cell activity, and lowers cortisol. And finally, although we don’t know exactly why happiness correlates with longevity, we can guess that it’s because happy people have something to live for.

Social Life

Social connections become especially important as we age, because as we encounter health problems, we need friends, family, and neighbors’ support and help with things like doctor appointments or grocery shopping. On the flip side, social isolation is often correlated with health problems like obesity, inactivity, and smoking.

Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy habits can also predict a long lifespan. Exercise has been proven to add several years to one’s life. Cooking and eating habits can also have an effect on lifespan. One study found that people who cook up to five times a week were 47% more likely to still be alive after ten years (with participants all over age 65). There are several foods proven to benefit different parts of the body as well: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dark chocolate help the heart; blueberries, fish, low-salt foods, and coffee keep the brain sharp; and dark green leafy vegetables and tofu maintain strong bones. Moreover, the social connections developed through communal eating tie back to lifestyles associated with a longer life.

 

With the keys to living longer in your hands, it’s also important to consider how and where you want to age. Home Access Products can help with your aging at home needs to ensure that you are completely prepared to live your long life in the comfort of your own home.

Community HAPpenings: Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

The crack of a baseball getting smacked out of the park, the smell of freshly mowed grass, the dust-stained uniforms that were white once upon a time, the peanuts and crackerjacks- yes, folks, it’s spring, and that means it’s time for baseball! 

Boys Baseball of Aurora

 

At Home Access Products, we take pride in being part of our community and helping local organizations achieve their goals. That’s why we decided to sponsor a local Little League organization. Home Access Products is proud to announce that we are now a league sponsor for the Boys Baseball of Aurora Organization.  Rather than limiting our sponsorship to one team, we decided that we wanted to have a broader reach and impact on the whole organization.

This year, Boys Baseball of Aurora is entering its 60th year as a community based, non- profit organization.  They are dedicated to providing a youth baseball program for the boys of Aurora and the surrounding communities that stresses the development of fundamentals, the importance of teamwork, the life lessons of sportsmanship, and above all, having fun playing age-level competitive baseball.

With the support of HAP and other businesses and organizations, as many as 700 boys, ages 7-12, play on 52 teams in three leagues.  Each team plays 18-22 games during the course of the schedule.  Over 225 volunteers serve as managers, coaches and scorekeepers.

We felt that BBA’s values and ethics were in line with how we operate our business at HAP. In baseball, if you have the right equipment, support, and teamwork, you can accomplish many things. At HAP, we strive to help others by providing the right equipment, the best support, stellar customer service, and working together as a team to make independence a possibility and quality of life a major accomplishment. All things considered, it made it easy for us to get on board and support them in a big way.

We also believe that our pledge to help seniors age at home comfortably goes hand-in-hand with helping seniors enjoy the simple pleasure of watching a grandchild or beloved neighbor play in America’s greatest pastime. There is nothing more enjoyable than being able to sit down and watch a Little League game. The sun is shining, people are cheering and laughing, and you look back and realize that you were able to do all of this either on your own or with limited help. HAP provides everything from walkers to bathtub lifts, stair lifts to wheelchair ramps, and scooters to power wheelchairs. This means that you can do the things that you love and begin to start enjoying life again. You never have to miss that opportunity to catch a home run ball!

At Home Access Products, we want to help you by hitting a home run ourselves- in terms of our expansive product knowledge, our stellar customer service, and above all, our empathy for your desire to age at home. Contact us today to find out how we can help you continue to age comfortably in your own home, and together, we can hit it out of the ballpark!