Wednesday, February 25, 2015

7 Easy Ways to Build Strong Bones

7 Easy Ways to Build Strong Bones

Jump 10 times, crush some cans and other tips to boost bone density

By Linda Melone for Next Avenue


Bone building reaches a peak during adolescence but then slows after age 25. In addition to this natural bone loss, we’re less likely to perform high-impact, bone-stimulating exercises (such as jumping) after age 50. This adds up to an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone breaks and fractures.
Fortunately, you can build stronger bones at any age.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that people who jumped 10 times twice daily increased bone density by .5 percent compared with those who didn't and lost about 1.3 percent. (Note: the study did not include women with osteoporosis; jumping is not recommended in cases of weak bones.)
Experts offer these seven easy tips for men and women to keep bones strong throughout their lives:
1. Snack on yogurt and other calcium-rich foods. Including yogurt, cottage cheese and other low-fat dairy foods adds bone-strengthening calcium to your diet. “In addition to dairy products, choose fish with bones such as salmon, sardines or whitebait,” says registered dietitian Laura Jeffers.

For additional benefits, serve these foods with a side of dark leafy green vegetables or broccoli, which also contain calcium. Other bone-building snacks include almonds, dried figs, calcium-fortified tofu and, if you prefer non-dairy, soy milk.
2. Take a hike. Try to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, by jogging, brisk walking or aerobics — at whatever level of ability, says Susan Randall, of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). “As you build stamina, increase the duration and intensity of your exercise,” she says.

To see real improvements in bone density, you need to push your intensity, says Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Maribeth Gibbon. “Increasing your pace for short intervals or going up and down hills will place appropriate forces on your bones.”

Alternate higher-intensity exercises two to three days a week with lower-intensity activities four to five days a week for best results.
3. Lift weights. “All women begin to lose bone mass after menopause,” says Randall, “so the stronger the muscle and the stronger the bone mass before menopause, the better.” Men should lift weights, too.

Resistance exercise requires muscular strength, which improves muscle mass and strengthens and supports bone. Examples of resistance training tools include free weights, wrist weights, weighted vests, exercise bands and resistance machines found at gyms and health clubs. Strive for two to three resistance training workouts a week.
4. Consider a supplement. Your calcium needs increase with age, making it a challenge to take in enough calcium through food alone. The U.S. recommended daily allowance for calcium is 1,000 mg a day during your 20s, 30s and 40s.

After menopause, most women need 1,000 to 1,500 mg a day unless they take hormone therapy, says Jeffers. Men between 50 and 70 years old need 1,000 mg a day; men over 70 need 1,200 mg.

“And since your body absorbs only 500 mg of calcium at a time, divide your dosages out over the course of the day,” Jeffers says. Check with your doctor before starting supplements to find out what amount is right for you.
5. Take a daily “D.” To help absorb calcium, most adults need 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily, says Dr. Andrea Sikon of Cleveland Clinic. “Combined calcium-vitamin D pills usually do not meet this requirement. And most of us who live north of Atlanta do not get enough vitamin D the old-fashioned way — from the sun. Taking a vitamin D supplement ensures you meet your daily needs.”

Even if you take medications such as bisphosphonates (e.g. Fosamax), you still need vitamin D and calcium as building blocks, says Sikon.
6. Stomp your feet. Similar to the noted benefits of jumping for bone density, simply stomping your feet can also help increase bone density in your hips, says Gibbon.

“Do four stomps on each foot twice a day with enough pressure to crush a can,” she says.

Make it a habit to stomp on cans before you toss them into the recycle bin.

Gibbon recommends performing exercise that is site-specific, meaning it must target the areas most prone to fracture: spine, hips and wrists. Push-ups and planks work the wrists and the NOF recommends these exercises to target the spine.
7. Stretch it out. Round out your workouts with stretching to help avoid a hunched-over posture down the road. “Posture, balance, flexibility, and spine strengthening exercises can help you with better alignment of your body now and in the future,” says Randall.

Lengthening tight muscles reduces back pain and promotes good spinal mechanics and posture, says Gibbon.

Muscles that are commonly tight include those you use to arch your back (spinal extensors); raise and rotate your shoulders (shoulder elevators and external rotators); lift your knees (hip flexors) and pull your feet toward your body (ankle dorsiflexor).

Perform stretches slowly and smoothly, “to a point of stretch, not pain,” Gibbon advises. For maximum benefit, do stretches once or twice a day, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.

More information is available at

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Was There: Don McEvoy Remembers Selma

The recent release of the Oscar nominated film Selma inspires many conversations about both the historical events it represents and the film’s interpretation and retelling of those events. At Front Porch we have the privilege of working with individuals who carry these important pieces of our collective history with them. They were there. They experienced it first-hand.

We recently had the good fortune to meet with one of our many fascinating residents, Don McEvoy, and hear the story about his life’s work in the Civil Rights movement and his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this segment he talks about his reaction to the movie Selma….

Visit our Youtube Channel to watch "Part 1" of this interview and subscribe to our
"I Was There" video collection.

Don McEvoy is a resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community. We’ll be posting more of his remarkable story in the weeks to come. 

Are Your Loved One’s Dementia Symptoms Reversible?

Too often, doctors and caregivers see symptoms of dementia as permanent when the problem may be a simple infection

By Gary Drevitch for Next Avenue


Among the myriad ways my kids have it better than me: As a child, I had only two grandparents, one of whom died when I was still very young. But my kids, at least the older two, were born with a full complement of grandmas and grandpas, plus a great-grandmother, and while the ranks of grandparents have thinned somewhat in recent years, that 98-year-old “Nanny,” my wife’s grandmother, endures.
In fact, Nanny continues to live on her own, in an Upper Manhattan apartment, with the support of her walker, a daytime home-care aide, and a delightful pet cat. She manages her finances and keeps up with her large extended family, limited in conversation only by her somewhat impaired hearing.

So it was a surprise to many of us when she recently started to show fairly sudden and pronounced signs of dementia, characterized by mood swings, a far less sharp conversational tone, and paranoia, especially about her finances. Still, given her age, many of those around her imagined that this was it, that she had finally succumbed to dementia and would face declining faculties for the rest of her life.
We were wrong.
After a few weeks, Nanny was taken to her doctor to find out what the cause of her dementia might be. As it turned out, she was not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or, in fact, any permanent dementia-causing syndrome. She had a simple urinary-tract infection, which was treated with antibiotics, restoring her previous sharpness.
I should have been able to come up with this diagnosis. My late mother long lived with, and eventually died from complications of, vascular dementia, a condition periodically worsened by UTIs, which caused increased agitation and confusion. When the urinary tract infections were treated, the symptoms eased, although the accumulated infections probably sped up the overall progression of her dementia.

UTIs, which affect women more often than men, are common among the elderly, and easily treated with antibiotics. They represent just one of several conditions that can potentially cause dementia or delirium-like effects in that population. According to the National Institute on Aging, too many doctors make the same mistake that most relatives do, seeing dementia as a natural part of aging and failing to check for causes of what is sometimes called pseudosenility or reversible dementia. Depending on the overall health of the patient, reversible symptoms resembling dementia can be caused by high fever, dehydration, vitamin deficiency or poor nutrition, a bad reaction to medications, a thyroid problem or a minor head injury. (Learn more from Next Avenue about the link between hearing loss and dementia.) Stress or depression can also bring on similar symptoms and should be treated to alleviate the effects.

The real shame is that, as the National Institute on Aging puts it, “much pain and suffering can be avoided if older people, their families, and their doctors recognize dementia as a disease, not part of normal aging.”

Family caregivers who notice sudden, unexplained changes in their loved one’s personality, whether it be confusion, agitation, or withdrawal, should take action and contact a doctor who can explore all the possible causes, rather than throwing up their hands and accepting the symptoms as an inevitable part of aging. Keep in mind that your loved one, as he or she suffers the effects of reversible dementia, is unlikely to be able to communicate the cause to you.

With quick action, a caregiver may be able to get relief for the patient's symptoms and help a loved one, like Nanny, return to the business of watching Grand Slam tennis tournaments, playing cards, and dispensing candy and quarters to great-grandchildren.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at:


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Valentine's Day Blues as You Age

By Rev. Laura L. Mancuso and Peggy Buchanan, Vista del Monte Retirement Community

How can a holiday known for diamonds, chocolate, and bright red hearts give you the blues?

For those of us experiencing grief the cheerfulness of Valentine’s Day and its emphasis on loving bonds can feel stifling. The contrast between the glowing advertising images we see of young people in the throes of idealized romantic love and the realities of our present lives can be depressing...

Read article in full at

Love & Aging (A Podcast)

Do we lose our sense of romance as we age? Or is there room for love well into our 100s? Vista del Monte Retirement Community's Peggy Buchanan and and Rev. Laura L. Mancuso share their thoughts in this interview with

You can listen to the podcast here: 

Rev. Laura L. Mancuso is the Spiritual Life Program Leader at Vista del Monte Retirement Community.

Peggy Buchanan is the Coordinator of Vitality and Wellness Programming for Front Porch and serves as the director of fitness, aquatics and physical therapy at Front Porch’s Vista del Monte Retirement Community. 

Front Porch is a not-for-profit organization, based in Glendale, California, that serves individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, affordable housing communities, and related management and development services.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Making FUN a Priority

An argument for keeping play at the top of your priority list
January 27, 2015
Minnesota Historical Society

Summer nights, the kids in my neighborhood used to gather in our yard, a convenient corner lot, to play a hide-and-seek game. Whoever was “It” counted to 20, screamed “Bloody Murder,” and the heart-pounding hunt in the dark was on. If you were found, you helped locate others before they raced to the safety zone.
During the days, girls from three blocks around gathered to play Barbies under our shady maple tree, often leaving the elaborate houses we built for our dolls set up overnight so we could resume play the next day.
When it rained, we read or played cards — our parents taught us bridge so we could substitute in their games when necessary, but mostly we played Old Maid or Kings Around the Corner or penny-betting games of Michigan Rummy. We also had Clue, Mystery Date and endless rounds of Monopoly.

The games you play as a child help form who you become as an adult, not just because of how you use your mind and body. Childhood play shapes how you enjoy your leisure time and is part of your self-identity deep into adulthood. Earlier this month, I saw a wonderful exhibit, Toys From the 50s, 60s and 70s, at the Minnesota History Center. You can take a walk down memory lane by looking at the attached slideshow based on it.
Yet, as we age, as times change, what, how and how much time we spend at play changes, too.
The Study of Play
Julie Brown, assistant professor of gerontology at Ohio University, studies the importance of play across the lifespan. When she first started researching the relationship between play and quality of life in adults, she wasn’t sure if her interview subjects would consider fun important.
“But after one man who had retired from the military said, ‘If I’m not reading or playing my games any more, just put a bullet in my head,’ I saw that people still feel passionately about it,” she noted wryly.
She heard from a lot of women, especially, who felt that after years of juggling work and family, they’d earned time to relax and do as they pleased. “Once the kids are gone, they go back to the form of play preferences they established when they were younger,” Brown says.
Notably, Brown found that the adults she interviewed do not tend to think of play and games as a means to an end; they aren’t looking to build skills or boost their brain power. “They do it because they enjoy it,” Brown said. There’s often a social aspect to play, but not always — listening to music and reading remain popular leisure time pursuits.
Making Digital Games Work For Us
Part of what got Brown interested in studying how we play as we get older was her own fondness for video games. She wondered what games would be available for her as she gets older — she’s 37 — and what will be available for boomers. She thinks that gamemakers make wrong assumptions about what we want as we age. Turning 50 doesn’t mean suddenly developing an interest in the same leisure activities our parents enjoyed, Brown notes.
What you liked to do in your younger years tends to persist, but evolve, and it’s very individual. You may no longer be up for a real-time game of hide-and-seek, but perhaps you play something that gives the thrill without the same physical exertion online.
The digital realm adds a wrinkle. Boomers were the first generation to grow up with PacMan and Pong; now they play games on their phones and iPads. Brown would like to see advances in gaming technology to let people continue playing these games — but she heard many older gamers saying they couldn’t keep up with younger players. She thinks gamemakers should account for natural physical changes in aging — “for differences in visual acuity, dexterity and reaction times,” she says. “Fifty-five year-olds shouldn’t feel like they are so old they can’t play.”

Interestingly, communication tools created for those with disabilities may help gamemakers find the best adaptations for all of us. In the same Gerontological Society of America session where I first heard Brown present her research, others were looking at using games as a tool for keeping the elderly connected to friends and family.
“Games can keep us social — we have Words With Friends and Scrabble. If the gaming companies don’t modify their interfaces to accommodate eye, hand and other physical changes, they unwittingly could contribute to isolation,” Brown says.
As any of us who spent childhoods playing with neighborhood kids, siblings, cousins and classmates know, there’s nothing like time spent playing together to bring on laughter, good feeling and fun.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available a

Friday, February 6, 2015

How to Fall in Love With Your Spouse All Over Again

Experts and couples reveal five secrets of successful long-term relationships

By Linda Bernstein for Next Avenue


Last month my daughter got married. During the ceremony, she and her husband gazed at each other adoringly and joy seemed to exude from every pore in their bodies. I found myself wondering, Have any two people ever been so in love?
Even as I squeezed the hand of my darling husband of 32 years, I felt as if I could never have been as much in love with him as my daughter was with her man on their wedding day.
Or maybe, I mused, love just looks more radiant on young faces. Could love possibly have a shelf life? Does it have “planned obsolescence,” like modern technology?
So I did a little research.

What I learned boils down to this: Even a marriage that’s about to smash up against the rocks (barring physical or emotional abuse or criminal acts) can tack its way back into calm and pleasant waters.
We’re not just talking about doing damage control. “It’s almost never too late to start the process of falling in love all over again,” says James Córdova, Ph.D., chair of Clark University's psychology department and head of Clark’s Center for Couples & Family Research.

Taking Too Much for Granted
“One of the things that happens in long-term marriages is that the demands of everyday life steal our attention away from our partners — and paying attention to the other is crucial for happy relationships,” Córdova says. This lack of focus on your spouse slowly unravels the fabric of a solid relationship.
Sometimes the disintegration happens over a number of years, during which the couple exist in a kind of emotional limbo. Córdova notes that, statistically, it takes couples up to six years to seek help or advice after they’ve reached a tipping point. And that, he says, only increases the impact on the marriage.
Fritz Galette, Ph.D., a family therapist who hosts the weekly “Ask Dr. Fritz” on New York City’s WWRL, agrees. “By the time I see couples, they’re often in crisis,” he says. “The discontent has been festering for years.”
And yet experts believe that even in cases where the discontent has been on a low boil, there are still ways to revive the old passion.

5 Ways to Restoke the Fires of Love

Galette and Córdova both recommend that couples in crisis seek professional help, whether from clergy or family/marriage therapists. On top of that, the following steps — first discussed and then put into practice — can help salvage a troubled marriage.
1. Act like you’re in a new relationship. Galette recommends that couples ask each other the kinds of questions typical of new daters’ “getting to know each other” conversations.
Jill Kaplan*, whose 28-year-old marriage had been feeling flat, realized that she and her husband, Todd (names have been changed), had fallen so out of sync that the things she was doing to please him were actually annoying him. “I thought he wanted me to watch sports on TV with him," she says. "I really didn’t always want to, but I kept it up for him.”
It took a close friend, who observed the tension in the family room, to get Jill to ask Todd if he really wanted her company. She got a surprising answer. “It turned out that he preferred not to have me there if I wasn’t into the game!” Jill says.
“That was just the first question,” she adds. “Now we’re on to which family we want to spend holidays with and what clothes the other wears that we really like. It’s like he’s my new boyfriend. It's like I’ve discovered a favorite old outfit in my closet: Todd looks good to me and yet our relationship has the spark of something new and special.”
2. Pay attention to your spouse. One of the biggest complaints Galette hears is that couples feel ignored by their mates. Spouses get used to one another and, over time, don’t really notice what they’re each going through.
“Sometimes people think they’re paying attention to their spouses but they really aren’t,” he says. “I advise couples to look into the other’s eyes when they’re having a conversation. It’s much easier to concentrate on someone’s words and share when your partner is looking right at you.”
Galette also promotes an effective technique called active listening. “When one person speaks, the other can’t interrupt. He must listen completely before he says anything — and then he has to respond.”
3. Share new experiences. For years, relationship experts (and every women’s magazine) have been advising couples to set aside time for “date night.” Córdova says that going out and doing things together on a regular basis and creating romantic rituals is good for a relationship. But it's even better to try something out of the ordinary. Get creative and step outside your comfort zone.

Galette agrees. “Doing something new and different together, like taking tennis lessons — which is what my wife and I did recently — enhances your sense of intimacy.”
Karen and Bob Callahan, a couple who had thought their next step was divorce, breathed new life into their marriage when they reluctantly took a kayaking course together. “Neither one of us is particularly athletic, so when our pastor [whom they had seen for counseling] showed us a brochure, we both thought, Why not?” Bob says.
“Actually," Karen adds with a laugh, "my first thought was, 'If we both drown, it couldn’t feel as bad as how miserable I am now.'”
It turned out that kayaking didn’t take too much athletic prowess, and the two had a terrific time paddling around a local lake. “We started making up stories about the fancy houses we saw and soon we were laughing so hard we almost tipped,” Karen says. The weekend after they received their “certificate,” they booked a B&B on the lake, where they spent less time kayaking and more time just enjoying being together.
4. Be affectionate — physically and verbally. Research has established that touch communicates a wider range of emotions than mere gestures. “The science of touch suggests that a pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand, a hug or an arm around the shoulder can save a so-so marriage,” writes Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. “Introducing more (nonsexual) touching and affection on a daily basis will go a long way in rekindling the warmth and tenderness.”
According to Córdova, however, this prescription for tenderness must also include loving language — and it needs to be heartfelt. “I love you” should be more than a reflexive recitation of syllables at the end of a phone call. Instead, say something affectionate and sweet at unexpected times.
Loving phrases can — and should — be sprinkled generously throughout your interactions. Tell your spouse he’s amazing while you’re eating dinner. Compliment your wife’s problem-solving abilities while trouble-shooting a plumbing problem.
5. Always be kind. “It’s not important whether your partner is ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’ when your goal is to have a genuinely loving relationship,” says Córdova. “If your partner shows up late, no matter how annoyed you are, you can still respond with kindness.”
“When Bob and I began paying true attention to how we were communicating," says Karen, "we realized that we were [venting] when we could have easily let the issue roll off our backs.”
So they tried an experiment. One Saturday they left a recorder running. “We were shocked when we listened to it later," says Bob. "The way we were responding to each other made us cringe. It was exactly the kind of negative communication that makes people uncomfortable when they see it in others.”
To find a remedy for that habitual behavior, Bob and Karen made lists of 10 things the other did that bugged them and wrote down their usual responses. “Then we looked at each other’s lists and discussed how we could communicate our feelings without being hurtful,” says Karen.
Once you start being intentionally kind, says Córdova, “the interaction goes to a new place — the kind you would prefer in a happy marriage.”
But, he cautions, “Being kind when you’re not feeling that way takes practice. It doesn’t come naturally at first, but it can turn into a habit.”
What’s Old Is New Again
While we can’t realistically expect our long-term partner to be the exact same person we married, Córdova says, that may be a positive thing. “It’s like you have a whole new person there beside you — someone you can date, with all the benefits of already being married.” Ultimately, he adds, it’s not so much about going back to what you had before. It’s more about going forward and building something new and better suited to who you’ve each become.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities. More information is available at