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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Tax Benefits of Caring for an Aging Relative

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We often put the care of our loved ones ahead of our personal needs. This can not only impact our own physical and emotional wellness, but also our finances. Elder care situations can be complex and this article provides some guidance on how to determine if you qualify for tax benefits to assist with the care of dependent relatives. There are three general approaches to tax savings on elder care costs – declaring your elderly relative as a dependent to receive an exemption, taking medical deductions that can be itemized, and claiming a dependent care credit that can be subtracted directly from the taxes you owe. With some assistance, you may be able to reduce the financial stress that comes with caring for a relative and focus more of your attention on providing the love and support they need.

Tags:  Aging  Elder Care  Financial Wellness  March 2017 

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The Elderly may Benefit Most from Exercise

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

When we think of exercise, we often think of young, fit people running marathons or swimming laps at your local gym, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society makes the claim that the people who may benefit most directly from exercise aren’t the young and fit, but the elderly and the infirm.


In their study of data collected at the University of Pittsburgh over 25 years, older adults who maintained lifestyles that included a good diet, physical activity, and avoided smoking lived longer then their peers and had fewer years of illness and disability before death.


The average amount of time spent disabled in old age was 4.5 years for women and 2.9 years for men, but the researchers found a large variance in the time spent disables based on the health habits of the individuals.


For instance, a woman with healthy habits may spend 2 years disabled, compared to a similar woman with poor habits, who could expect to spend 3.7 years disabled – nearly a factor of 2. Some other factors that created problems in old age were smoking, which added 3.7 years of disability to a person’s life, or obesity, which added 0.7 years of disability.  All told, the researchers found that those with healthy habits spent 80% of their time, on average, disability free, compared to 60% of the time for people with poor habits.


Click here to read the study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


Tags:  Aging  Exercise  Geriatrics  Physical  Physical Wellness 

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Perception of Wellness Gets Better with Age

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

In a survey performed at the University of California–San Diego, results showed the older participants were, the more likely they were to report that they felt better about themselves and their lives.


Researchers found that participants in their 20s and 30s reported high levels of stress, anxiety and depression--higher than participants in any other decade of age.


The researchers performed their surveys with different emphases on aspects of wellness, and therefore received varying results as to what part of life finds people most happy, but the consensus among all the researchers was that there is a significant increase in mental wellness for the majority of people in the last third of their lives, and that the improvement follows a linear path upward starting at a point in the 30s or 40s.


The increase in mental wellness is being chalked up to more mature emotional regulation, decision making skills, and the ability to let go of minor slights--all signs of, what the researchers refer to as, "the wisdom that comes with age."


This is positive news that flies in the face of the common perception that mental health declines with age. If these researchers are correct, we all have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.


To read the research from the University of California, click here.

Tags:  Aging  Elder Care 

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Passing the Alzheimer's Smell Test

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

The University of Pennsylvania has found that loss of the ability to smell or identify odors could be an indication of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and future cognitive deterioration.


The study, which tested a multiethnic cohort of 397 80-year-old adults without dementia, found that 12.6% of the subjects had Alzheimer’s four years after the initial test, while 20% showed signs of cognitive deterioration. The study found a direct correlation between low smell test scores and later cognitive failure.


This test could prove to be extremely valuable in predicting future cognitive problems, allowing doctors to assess and treat the impending issues before they are too far developed to be diverted, which is how the Alzheimer’s diagnosis process works currently.


Couple in the fact that a smell test is far less expensive than other brain-imaging tests, and is far less invasive than other current procedures, and the medical community is hopeful that this will become a simple solution to identifying and treating Alzheimer’s patients in the early stages across all demographics.

Tags:  Aging  Alzheimer's  brain health  Brain science  cognition 

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Study: Boomers Shifting Priorities, Redefining Aging (Jan. 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, January 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This past December was host to the 10th Annual International Council on Active Aging conference in Orlando, FL. The good news? Steve French, managing partner at the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), said the fundamental shift in how the aging population sees itself is a positive change. The Boomer generation, the nation's largest demographic group, is re-inventing itself, becoming more self-aware and self-responsible, and taking a pragmatic approach that will drive various industries forward, he said.

So what can we learn from marketing data about wellness? Plenty! Adults who are 50-plus have a more "well" vision of life and how they fit into it. Based on data derived from NMI's Healthy Aging/Boomer Database®, an annual survey of more than 3,000 U.S. older adults, French identified four trends shaping the Boomer market. They are as follows:

  • Building a legacy: Age 50-plus consumers desire connection and belonging; they are continuing to audit their lives and search for balance, trying to build a legacy, connect with others, and do the right thing. NMI research shows 83 percent of consumers over 50 indicate they are becoming more aware of the importance of personal relationships rather than personal possessions. Two-thirds say they are trying to do more things that benefit others rather than themselves.
  • Aging healthfully: Fewer than 1 out of 5 consumers 50-plus are looking for the next Fountain of Youth. They are not looking to turn back the clock—they don't want to look or act like they're 30. It's not about "non-aging"; it's about healthy aging and accepting who they are now, while aiming for a healthier version.
  • Redefining aging: While 50-plus adults may be accepting of themselves, Boomers are not accepting stereotypes of "old age." Fifty-plus consumers aren't looking to buy typical "old person" items like big button phones, says French. Instead, close to half are searching for new self-care methods to prolong health and vitality, and two-thirds optimistically proclaim the best years of their life are still ahead of them.
  • Finding meaning: For Boomers, it's about finding the core components of a meaningful life. NMI research indicates that more than half of older consumers feel they would live a better life by having fewer material possessions, and two-thirds feel finding a purpose in life is more important than making money.

For more information visit: The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA).

Tags:  Aging  Intellectual  January 2012  Physical  Spiritual 

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9 Secrets to Living Longer (May 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, May 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

In celebration of Older Americans Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we bring you Dan Buettner's 9 secrets to a long life. Dan recently spoke at the Healthways Summit, April 26-28, and is the author of Blue Zones a compilation of work in partnership with the National Geographic Society that studied the world's locations where people on average live the longest. For more information on Dan Buettner and his work visit: http://www.bluezones.com/live-longer/blue-zones-book/

The 9 Secrets

  1. Just Move naturally and gain four years: In short, as Dan described at the Healthways summit, individuals that run one marathon in their lives are not near as healthy as those that move every day as a natural occurrence. People who live longer are able to walk to most places they need to go, they work in their gardens, and they are naturally un-sedentary. What can you do? Look for opportunities to move, shut off the T.V., have outdoor activities, do yard work, stand up when you're on the phone at work, and more!
  2. Purpose Now: Why do you wake up in the morning? What do you care about? People with purpose in their lives live longer.
  3. Down Shift: De-stress. A happy-hour cocktail on a stressful day can be more beneficial than detrimental. Take naps, meditate, stop and give thanks. People who stop and de-stress live longer.
  4. Follow the 80% Rule of Eating: Stop eating when you are 80% full. Serve food at the counter and don't put serving dishes on the table. Use smaller plates. Don't have seconds. Remove distractions such as TV's from the kitchen. Eat a large breakfast, a smaller lunch, and just a bit for dinner. People who follow these patterns live longer
  5. Plant Slant: Eat meat, but restrict your intake to twice a week and a portion size no larger than a deck of cards. Eat plenty of beans. Snack on nuts. A great percentage of centarians follow these rules.
  6. Drink Alcohol: This is not a typo. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Preferably you should not have more than 2 drinks per day and wine is your best choice.
  7. Belong: Most of those who live the longest belong to some sort of faith-based community. All but 5 of the 263 centenarians interviewed by Buettner did so.
  8. Loved Ones First and Close: Keep your closest relationships strong and close to you. Positive committed relationships were a theme for those who lived the longest.
  9. Right Tribe: Hang out with healthy people. Happiness, healthiness, and long-life are contageos just as much as smoking, obesity, and depression are…so select your circle carefully!

Tags:  Aging  Emotional  Intellectual  Longevity  May 2011  Physical  Social 

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Pumping Iron for a More Mature Audience (March 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012
According to recent NPR coverage and Dr. David Heber, director of UCLA's Center for Human Nutrition, an average male who weighs 180 pounds might after age 60 lose as much as 10 pounds of muscle mass over a decade. This can be turned around! New research published in the journal Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise finds older adults who begin lifting weights after 50 may win the battle against age-related muscle loss.

So why does it matter if we stretch or build muscle as we age?

When you stretch a muscle to the point of straining it, as is the goal during weight lifting, you set in motion the body's natural muscle-building response. The muscle has to adapt to the damage and build itself up to be prepared for the next weightlifting assault. In this way, muscles build fiber and actually increase in size. Muscle strength and balance help prevent falls, one of the most common reasons seniors end up in the hospital. In addition, weight-bearing activities help to improve bone density and can actually grow muscle no matter the age of the individual.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning website, http://www.nsca-lift.org/, the common perception of the elderly is that they become weak and fragile due to an age induced muscle wasting. However, studies involving injury and disuse have clearly demonstrated that inactivity can also induce muscle wasting, and is a major factor in the loss of muscle mass. In addition, current research shows that muscle strength can increase regardless of age. It has been shown that resistance training can enhance muscle mass and function even in 90 year old subjects, and is the most effective way to maintain the quality of life as we age.

What does it take?

Start simple. Simply getting in and out of a chair might be a good place to start. Do 10 repetitions and see how you feel the purpose is to challenge yourself gradually and in a safe way. And, after exercising, don't forget to eat.

Tags:  Aging  Exercise  March 2011  Physical 

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Cognitive Disorders and Aging (February 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

Slightly more than five percent of the nearly 39 million Americans age 65 and older in 2007 reported one or more cognitive disorders, such as senility or dementia, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Seniors age 85 and older were the most likely to have reported one or more cognitive disorders (18.4 percent), compared to seniors ages 75 to 84 (6 percent), and seniors ages 65 to 74 (1.1 percent).

AHRQ found that for elderly Americans age 65 and older in 2007:

  • Seniors with less than a high school education were more likely to have reported one or more cognitive disorders than seniors that were high school graduates (8.6 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively) or seniors with more than a high school education (2.7 percent).
  • Nearly eight percent of poor seniors reported one or more cognitive disorders compared to 4.1 percent of middle and high income seniors reporting such a condition.
  • Nearly 11 percent of seniors who had both Medicare and another type of supplemental public insurance reported one or more cognitive disorders, compared to 5 percent of seniors with Medicare only and 4.1 percent of seniors with Medicare and supplemental private insurance.
  • Average annual health care expense for seniors reporting one or more cognitive disorders totaled $15,549 a year, compared to $9,019 for seniors not reporting any cognitive disorders.

    AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improves the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

    Source: AHRQ News and Numbers, January 26, 2011

Tags:  Aging  Cognitive  Emotional  February 2011  Intellectual  Physical  Social 

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Older Adults Experience "Destination Amnesia" And Over-Confidence with False Beliefs (September 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012
The good news is at least you're not alone and now, there is scientific evidence that those moments of "I'm sure I told you that already!" are common. The bad news is these memory lapses are happening and can sometimes be embarrassing. Older adults are more likely to have destination memory failures—forgetting who they've shared or not shared information with, according to a new study led by Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute. The study appears online, ahead of print publication, in the Online First Section of Psychology and Aging.

"What we've found is that older adults tend to experience more destination amnesia than younger adults," said lead investigator and cognitive scientist Dr. Nigel Gopie, who led the study with experts in memory and attention, Drs. Fergus Craik and Lynn Hasher. Destination amnesia involves an individual falsely believing they've told someone something, such as believing they told their daughter about needing a ride to an appointment, when actually they told a neighbor.

Older adults are more prone to destination memory failures because the ability to focus and pay attention declines with age, so older adults use up most of their attention resources on the telling of information and don't properly encode the context (i.e. who they are speaking to) for later recall. Plus, older adults tend to be more confident than their younger counterparts often leading to a sense of surety related to how and to whom information was transferred. A critical finding in the study is that destination memory is more vulnerable to age-related decline than source memory. Source memory is the ability to recall which person told you certain information.

The study follows an earlier one published last year in Psychological Science by Dr. Gopie (Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute) and Dr. Colin M. MacLeod (University of Waterloo).

Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care (2010, August 30). Older adults experience "destination amnesia" and over-confidence with false beliefs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/08/100830152542.htm

Tags:  Adults  Aging  Intellectual  Physical  September 2010 

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Quotes (May 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, May 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

There are many great events occurring in May. Among them, Older Americans Month, brough to us by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging at www.aoa.dhhs.gov and Better Sleep Month, brought to us by The Better Sleep Council atwww.bettersleep.org. For more information on these events and a complete Health Observances Calendar visit www.nationalwellness.org.

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap. – Carrie Snow

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. – Leo J. Burke

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. – Irish Proverb

Many things--such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly--are done worst when we try hardest to do them. – C.S. Lewis

A well-spent day brings happy sleep. – Leonardo da Vinci

[Sleep is] the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. – Thomas Dekker

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep – Anonymous

Problems always look smaller after a warm meal and a good night's sleep – Anonymous

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone. – Anthony Burgess

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter – Mark Twain

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul – Samuel Ullman

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. – Chili Davis

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. – Mark Twain

Man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. – John Barrymore

Everyone is the age of their heart. – Guatemalan Proverb

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now. – Author Unknown

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. – Henry Ford

Tags:  Aging  Inspiration  May 2010  Physical  Quotes  Sleep  Social 

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