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Get the Facts About Senior Malnutrition

Good nutrition is essential to maintaining health and well-being, but many seniors in the United States are at risk for malnutrition. In fact, senior malnutrition costs the United States $51.3 billion per year.

Senior malnutrition is caused by a variety of factors, including health, income and socialization levels. For seniors who suffer from depression, dementia, dental issues or various chronic illnesses, appetite loss can contribute to malnutrition. And, living on a limited income might discourage some seniors from buying nutrient-rich groceries. Also, reduced socialization and living alone can make eating wholesome meals harder when you are cooking for only one. To spot senior malnutrition, friends, caregivers and family members should observe eating habits and watch for unusual weight loss.

It is important to remember that we can prevent malnutrition by eating nutrient-rich foods. To help, you can consult your physician on your dietary needs and use senior nutrition programs. Chronic health conditions may be prevented, delayed or managed through these nutrition services and programs. The Administration for Community Living’s Older Americans Act congregate and home-delivered meals programs provide healthy meals in senior centers and deliver meals to homebound older adults. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Nutrition Services Incentive Program are also great resources. You can find local nutrition programs via the Eldercare Locator.

One way to eat nutrient-rich foods inexpensively is to check weekly circulators at the front of the grocery store to see what’s on special and plan meals accordingly. Remember that frozen produce has the same nutrient values as fresh produce and can often be found on sale. You can also use coupons on some items. To help encourage healthy eating, you can also make some meals a social event. This makes dinner a bit more enjoyable, and friends can help cook for one another. Some great ways to do this are to throw a potluck dinner party or invite family over for a picnic.

By using these tips, we can work together to help prevent malnutrition. Read on to view our infographic on senior malnutrition and share it with a friend!

Bob Blancato is the National Coordinator for the Defeat Malnutrition Today Coalition

Senior Malnutrition Infographic



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Older Americans Month 2017: Age Out Loud

In April 1963, after meeting with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens, President John F. Kennedy designated May as “Senior Citizens Month” – what would eventually become “Older Americans Month.” The month is used as a time to acknowledge the important role seniors play in the United States and highlight our impact on our nation’s history.

Since the era of Kennedy, every U.S. president has declared May as Older Americans Month. This year, President Donald Trump did the same and called upon all Americans “to honor our elders, acknowledge their contributions, care for those in need, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to older Americans this month and throughout the year.” Leading the celebration of Older Americans Month is the Administration for Community Living (ACL), who designed this year’s theme of Age Out Loud to “give aging a new voice – one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.”

What better way to celebrate this year’s theme than to get involved and raise important issues surrounding seniors’ access to quality health care services like Medicare! As seniors, we are the most important voice in this fight, so it’s imperative we use our time and resources to speak out.

If you’re a new reader, you might not know that your access to Medicare is currently under threat by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This is a big problem for beneficiaries like you and me, as IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications. In honor of Older Americans Month and this year’s aptly-designed theme, I encourage all seniors to join together to stand up for Medicare. Our voices are imperative to winning this fight, so don’t be afraid to Age Out Loud!

To learn more about IPAB and Medicare, view our recent blog post here.



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A Memorial Day Reflection

veterans day For many people in America, Memorial Day signifies the beginning of summer. While this celebrated day can coincide with the opening of one’s neighborhood pool or the first family picnic of the season, it is important to remember Memorial Day is something far more important than that.

More than 150 years ago, after the Civil War, Major General John Logan proclaimed that the 30th of May would be set aside to commemorate those who had died in battle. Now celebrated on the last Monday of May each year, Memorial Day is a day of quiet remembrance, where we show our gratefulness for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. This Memorial Day, here at Seniors Speak Out, we want to take time to commemorate those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. We greatly appreciate their sacrifices while protecting the essential American freedoms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

For those families who have lost someone special in defense of our great nation, Memorial Day is especially close to our hearts. We hope that you use this day to commemorate America’s fallen heroes and enjoy the time with loved ones: friends, children, grandchildren, spouses or even neighbors.

We would love to hear your memories of those you are remembering today, so feel free to comment on our Facebook page here. As always, we thank you for being a part of our community, and we encourage you take a few moments to remember those who have lost their lives while you enjoy Memorial Day with those you care about the most.



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Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare: Support Repeal of IPAB

kane-reinholdtsen-145944Attention seniors! If you are like me and depend on Medicare for your health care services, now is an important time to be paying attention to what is happening in Washington, DC. It is expected that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, known as IPAB, could soon become a reality.

If you are a longtime reader, then you may already know about IPAB from our previous post. If not, here are the basics:

IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act. If Medicare spending exceeds a certain level, then a board of 15 unelected officials are given a broad-range of authority to make decisions about mandatory cuts to Medicare spending.

This is a big problem for Medicare beneficiaries like you and me. These bureaucrats are unelected and in no way accountable to voters. They are required to make spending cuts, but not to maintain quality of care. This means IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications.

And don’t be fooled by the fact that the president hasn’t appointed members to the board yet. Unfortunately, spending cuts are still mandated by law, so all of IPAB’s power is shifted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Proposed changes by IPAB or the HHS secretary can even bypass congressional approval. In this case, the future of health care for millions of seniors could be determined by just one individual.

Across the country, more than 670 organizations made up of patients, doctors, hospitals, employers and veterans are advocating for the repeal of IPAB. Additionally, there is bipartisan support from lawmakers to ensure IPAB never becomes a reality. However, time is running out. As seniors, we must join in and encourage Congress to repeal IPAB today. Our health depends on it.



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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

SSO Colorectal Cancer ImageMarch is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here at Seniors Speak Out it’s important to be aware of diseases like colorectal cancer that affect older Americans. Because colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths – and a cancer that can be screened for often – it is so important that we visit the doctor regularly for screenings.

The first step to preventing colorectal cancer is to learn what it is and how it impacts your body. Colon cancer is a malignant growth that begins in the colon or large intestine. It includes both cancers of the colon and those that form in the rectum. Most colon cancers begin with the formation of benign polyps, or non-cancerous growths in the large intestine. Often, these growths produce absolutely no symptoms, which is why it is important to visit your doctor annually for testing.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends adults begin regular screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50, though those with a family history of this cancer should begin sooner.

Colonoscopies used to be a dreaded rite of passage for seniors. But there is good news! There are now various options to test for the disease.

Stool tests can be conducted annually, while a colonoscopy is recommended by USPSTF to be done every 10 years in the absence of polyps. According to Medicare.gov, Medicare covers colorectal cancer screening tests to help find pre-cancerous polyps. However, if a polyp or other tissue is found during the colonoscopy, you may have to pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services and a copayment in a hospital outpatient setting.

Of course, it is important to discuss your testing options with a physician, who can provide you with more detailed information about each screening test, how often they should occur and what is best for you. Be sure to ask questions about how often Medicare covers each screening test so you know your potential out-of-pocket costs up front.

Again, because the symptoms of colon cancer are often unnoticed, us seniors must take charge of our own health and visit the doctor annually for a regular screening. Contact your doctor today to schedule a test for colorectal cancer in honor of National Colorectal Awareness Month.



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New Video from Medicare Today: What is Medicare and How Does it Work?

Our partners at Medicare Today have a great new video about the different health care coverage options that Medicare offers. Here are a few highlights from the short video, but be sure to watch it for yourself!

  • Medicare has four main parts: A, B, C, and D.
  • Part A covers inpatient care, like hospital stays and hospice care.
  • Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctor visits, preventative treatments and some medicines taken during your doctor visit.
  • Part C, otherwise known as Medicare Advantage, is Medicare coverage offered by private health plans.
  • Lastly, Part D covers outpatient prescription medications and is offered by private insurance companies.

Sign up for these plans happens during the open enrollment period each year, which is October 15 – December 7, 2017. Are you 65 or older and looking to enroll in Medicare? Mark your calendar!

For more information on Medicare coverage, check out the video or visit MedicareToday.org.



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Get Up and Get Active This Spring!

Spring is on the way! All of us at Seniors Speak Out are excited to finally store our coats away, grab our sneakers and get out to enjoy the warm weather.

For seniors, a great way to take advantage of the new season is to embrace physical activity outside. After all, exercise can lead to healthier aging and it can allow us to live more independent lifestyles. Whether you’re a sports fan or an avid gardener, hopefully our tips on how to stay active this spring will lead seniors across the country to get up off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors.

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For the sports fan: Some local community centers offer croquet and bocce ball leagues for seniors, which is a relaxing way to combine exercise and socialization. Also be sure to check out the National Senior Games Association for more information on senior sports leagues offered near you.

 

 

 

benjamin-combs-27617For those with a green thumb: Consider starting a gardening club at your local community center. This is a wonderful way to get outside while also giving back to the environment.

 

 

 

 

mpho-mojapelo-173231For the animal lover: If you don’t have your own dog to play fetch with, volunteering at a pet shelter is an easy way to get active. At the shelter, you can offer to take a dog for a walk so you can both enjoy the sunshine.

 

 

 

ashley-baxter-27994For the photography enthusiast: Grab your camera and simply go for a walk. You will be surprised by the amount of beautiful flowers waiting to be photographed.

 

 

 


shutterstock_128091341For the social butterfly:
It’s no surprise that exercise is more fun when others are involved. Before you venture out on a walk around town, gather up a group of friends or family members to join in.

 

 

 

hannah-morgan-39891For the shopaholic: If there is an outdoor shopping mall in your neighborhood, window shopping is a great way to stay physically active while also looking for a bargain.

 

 

 
How do you plan to take advantage of the warmer months upon us? Tell us in the comments section below!



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Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month

As you’ve most likely experienced firsthand, aging can contribute to the onset of many different health conditions. Here at Seniors Speak Out, we know it is difficult to decipher what is considered a normal sign of aging and what could be something more serious. Learning about lesser-known conditions can mean an important stold couple smilingep toward preventative care.

What better reason to discuss Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month? It is February, after all! This is a great opportunity to share information about vision changes many seniors experience and remember the importance of regular visits to the eye doctor.

According to the National Eye Institute, vision changes are normal as we age. Here are a few examples of how we can expect our eyes to change as we grow older:

  1. Eyes may take longer to adjust and focus
  2. Adjusting to light and dark transitions may be more challenging
  3. Eyes may have a difficult time distinguishing an image from its background (this is called contrast sensitivity)

Though these examples of changes are good to keep in mind, the best way to prolong your sharp vision is to regularly see your eye doctor for an exam. In some cases, your doctor can help you determine if you have developed Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.

The early stages of AMD start without symptoms, which is why it is so important to regularly get an eye exam. Remember – early detection can slow the rate of vision loss and allow you to make the most of what vision is remaining.

To learn more about eye care, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology to view their extensive set of resources for seniors.



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National Senior Independence Month Is Here!

independent seniorWe all think of February as the month to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but what you might not know is that February is also National Senior Independence Month. Living an independent lifestyle is important to many of us as we age, no matter your age, or where you live. Here are a few tips to help you stay comfortable, safe, and healthy this month and throughout the year.

Take advantage of technology

Ensure your living space is equipped with an up-to-date security system. Not only will these systems protect against theft or property damage, they can do a lot more. If your living space includes a yard or even an outdoor entrance, security devices can detect any motion nearby. The motion light sensors can help you see, as well as fend off unwanted guests.

Cell phones and tablets can also contribute to safety. Phones, in addition to allowing you to contact anyone immediately, often have flashlights and emergency contact apps that make calling for help easy and quick. They can also serve as location devices and, of course, provide maps and navigation. AgingCare.com has many other suggestions about the types of technology that benefit seniors living independently. Check out their website here.

Declutter

Cleaning and organizing can have great positive impact on your physical and mental health. I try to declutter every January at the start of the year. It’s energizing and feels freeing. Another added benefit of decluttering is the ability to move freely without fear of tripping and falling. Clearing walkways and rearranging furniture are wonderful ways to ensure safety and comfort.

Make a few upgrades

If you don’t already have grab bars in your bathroom, install them! Whether you need them or not right now, they are always handy and can accommodate any layout or design. Also, check the banisters on your stairs. They can come loose from years of use and pose a risk.

Dark hallways or a dark closet? Motion sensor stick-on lights might solve the problem. Making these upgrades will make a world of difference!

Do you have any other tips for seniors living an active, independent lifestyle? Tell us in the comments below.

 



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Tell Congress to Protect Our Medicare Today!

 

Attention seniors! Last week, an amendment was introduced that would dramatically alter our Medicare benefits. Should this amendment pass, costs for our prescriptions might rise and we could even be denied access to certain medicines prescribed by our doctors.

We know that 9 in 10 seniors nationwide are satisfied with their Part D coverage and that millions of seniors like us rely on Medicare for quality, affordable health care, so we must act NOW! Congress will consider this amendment this week. We need to speak out today to make sure our members of Congress know we won’t stand for this harmful proposal—our health is too important.

Make your voice heard and join me in telling the federal government to stop meddling in my Medicare! Sign the letter here: http://www.seniorsspeakout.org/speak-out/protect-seniors-access-to-medicare/
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