Strengthening Your Health

Listen to your heart and it will tell you what it wants in matters of love, family and profession.  Listen closer and you'll learn that it needs exercise, healthy foods, and stress control to thrive. Nurture your heart and it will power your body for...

marathon-runners-1024x681Do you run? Walk? Bicycle? If you do, you're part of the reason that Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten fittest cities. If you need some motivation to join the crowd the National Institute on Aging has launched an annual program called Go 4 Life. Go 4 Life promotes physical activity to improve quality of life for older adults. This isn't just about urging couch potatoes to move this is a drive to bring exercise to everyone whether you have arthritis, live with dementia, suffer depression, experience low vision, or just feel too busy. Tap into the movement and improve your health--- it's Go 4 Life month!
[caption id="attachment_2372" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Laughing at Ida Culver Laughing at Ida Culver[/caption] You may have noticed, on our calendar, that Ballard Senior Center features a free class in Laughter Yoga (LY) every Thursday. Maybe you've encountered Laughter Yoga in one of Seattle's assisted living settings,  in a corporate context, on the curriculum at Bastyr University, Bellevue college or the campus of University of Washington. Laughter Yoga is embraced and offered in many venues because it's fun and healing and you don't have to be in a good mood to reap its benefits! Find relaxation, improve your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce stress while you laugh. LY exercises are suitable for all ages and require no equipment... just you, your stamina, and your willingness to try it. [caption id="attachment_2439" align="alignright" width="314"]laughter at the hub Verde and class at TheHub[/caption] Laughter Yoga is fun and playful yet, as Teresa Verde, a pioneer, of Laughter Yoga in Seattle and Certified Laughter teacher since 2001, explains, "This is a vigorous exercise. It is basically a "laughter workout." Is Laughter Yoga good for elders? I asked. Yes. Laughter increases energy by oxygenating the system and triggering the "happiness factor."  Keys to a positive experience? Being open to new things, having some level of stamina, and participating in a group that embraces the idea.  Caregivers? Laughter Yoga is also good for you. It relieves stress, can be practiced in the moment, and promotes wellness.
In February we celebrate our hearts and sweethearts! We all know Valentines day and, increasingly, word is getting out about National Wear Red Day for Women on the 6th. In fact the whole month is devoted to lifting awareness about our hearts. Our discussions about: heart health, heart-felt feelings, heart healthy foods, and heart risks this month are all about the actions we need to take in life to balance the needs of our hearts with the demands of our day. Whether it's remembering the roses or picking up heart healthy foods for dinner February reminds us to nurture everything that makes our heart beat. Why is an entire month devoted to lifting awareness about heart health and heart risks? Because stroke and heart attack is the number one killer of American men and women. More people are dying of heart disease today than of all types of cancer. 1 in 4 people die from heart disease every year and over half a million will experience their first heart attack by year's end.  That's why the Million Hearts Initiative was launched in 2011 with a goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. But the fact is that neither government initiatives nor your doctor can prevent heart disease. Your heart and your life choices are yours. In the video below a 55 year old woman explains how she realized the connection between her life problems and the care of her heart and decided to make a change.
Dementia strikes an alarming number of people in King County. According to a King 5 report, in late 2012, over 150,000 people locally have Alzheimers or Dementia. King County’s population was just over 2 million in 2013. That's an incidence of approximately 1 in 7 which is why most of us know someone who has dementia or someone who worries about memory loss. Medicine is still trying to understand how to delay, halt or predict dementia. We can’t cure it but we may be able to reduce our risk up to  50% by taking physical and mental steps toward more robust health.
[caption id="attachment_1317" align="alignleft" width="196"] Marcia In Studio[/caption] If you were in attendance at With A Little Help’s Holiday Open House party we hope you had a good time! You probably met owner, Marcia Ives, and perhaps received one of her handmade cups. Ives, 57, reconnected with her love of pottery after thirty years during which she raised a family and grew a business. “I took a pottery class or two almost 30 years ago simply because it piqued my interest,” she said. “I was so confident that I would do it again someday, that I held onto the little collection of tools that I had purchased way back then. It came right back to me, and I got sucked in…I have tapped into a whole artisitic/creative side of myself that I had not really explored much in my life, and it’s so much fun!” As Ives’ experience reflects, reconnecting with creativity as we navigate later years leads us to new discovery and welcome benefits. It’s also being used successfully to deliver health benefits to people living with dementia and Alzheimers disease.
We speak pets! With A Little Help staff and caregivers know how important pets are in an owner’s life. We’re pet owners ourselves and can testify about the value of our pet’s companionship and loyal affection. Pets make us feel special. They meet us at the door, often notice when we’re sad or sick, and encourage us to play and exercise. It’s no wonder that many scientific studies conclude that they’re good for our health and good for the health of aging Americans.