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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Plant and Outdoor Therapy: Worth It for Seniors?

Many surprising research findings tout the advantages of plants and flowers in an older person’s life.

Whether it’s tending to a plant in their room, enjoying houseplants in communal residence areas or having exposure to greenery in the great outdoors (even through a window), seniors see undeniable benefits. And while you may agree from your own experience that you seem to feel better when Mother Nature is nearby, research proves that it’s affecting you in ways you probably never imagined.

Early Greeks and Romans were among the first to bring plants indoors. Louis XIV continued the tradition with the orangery at Versailles, and potted palms were in vogue during Victorian times. What were the 70s without some spider plants in macramé hangings?

We’ll avoid discussing the cannabis plants that might have also been lurking in a few homes, since they have distinctive medical properties and a federal drug designation. Common houseplants confer many surprising health benefits of their own, and they’re perfectly legal in all 50 states. In fact, after seeing the evidence, you may decide to run out and buy some for yourself!

Lower Your Risk for Getting Sick

Plant roots take up water, push it out to the leaves, and release some of it via evaporation. This process, called transpiration, accounts for about 10 percent of the moisture in the atmosphere. When you bring a living plant inside, the same process adds humidity to the air in your home.

Garden Indoors All Year

Seniors have various alternatives for indoor gardening. The easiest, of course, is to set a potted plant in a south-facing window. But many older Americans don’t have a sunny window, or can’t bend down to tend to plants. For them, we look at systems that are compatible with older adult lifestyles.

Eldergrow offers a unit that is accessible for anyone, including those using a wheelchair. The mobile unit can travel around a senior housing facility, with locking wheels to temporarily or permanently keep it in place. Eco-friendly grow lights are safe and energy efficient, while a 4-by-2-foot bed offers space for various plants.

Founder Orla Concannon developed the startup to satisfy a graduate course requirement after a stint as marketing director for Aegis Senior Living, where she saw the disappointment and sadness of residents who missed gardens they had to leave behind.

The company has been growing since a September 2015 launch, with a presence in six states. The company offers three ownership models: rent, buy or rent to own, the most popular option. In addition, Eldergrow can provide evidence-based horticulture therapy using a subscription-based curriculum.

“It’s an all-inclusive horticulture therapy program,” Concannon says. “Our team of educators bring fresh energy into the community as well as expertise about the plants. We’re building relationships with the residents.”

If you’re looking for a simpler system without the educational component, try Fresh Square Countertop Growing Units for easy indoor gardening. Each unit measures 20 inches wide by 14 inches deep and stands 20 inches tall to include grow lights. There’s no bending over, since the units sit on your counter, and their unique watering system allows you to go on vacation or even forget about plants for up to three weeks.

In dry climates and winter months, this humidity reduces your risk of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs, according to a study at the Agricultural University of Norway. Other research has found that the flu virus prefers dry air for optimal survival and transmission, so lower your flu risk by growing plants indoors.

Breathe Easy

You may know that during the day, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This makes them an asset for people, who do the opposite. Growing plants increase oxygen levels indoors.

But were you aware that photosynthesis, or the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen by plants, stops at night? Instead, plants switch modes to absorb oxygen and emit carbon dioxide. Keep this from happening in your bedroom at night by choosing plants from the few (including orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads) that continue to emit oxygen in the dark.

Air Filtration

Experts at researching air in sealed environments, NASA found an unexpected air quality improvement.

“Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings,” say NASA researchers. “Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.” To be effective, NASA studies suggest one plant per 100 square feet of indoor space.

According to the space agency’s research, the top 10 plants to clean the air are: peace lily, golden pothos, English ivy, chrysanthemum, gerbera daisy, mother-in-law's tongue (also known as snake plant), bamboo palm, azalea, red-edge dracaena and spider plant. Check here for more air-cleaning plants and information regarding their culture and care.

Healing Power

Bringing a plant or flowers to someone recuperating from surgery may seem uninspired. However, one study at Kansas State University recommends them as an effective complementary medicine for surgical patients that has the added advantages of being noninvasive and inexpensive. Viewing plants during recovery, according to the study, produced significant improvement in physiologic responses, demonstrated by lower systolic blood pressure and patient reports of lower pain, anxiety and fatigue when compared to patients without plants or flowers in their rooms.

Patients with plants or flowers gave more positive feedback about their rooms and evaluated them with higher satisfaction ratings when compared to patients in similar rooms with no plants. Patients with plants also gave higher rankings to hospital caregivers.

Can caring for live plants replicate or boost these findings? When patients physically interacted with plants by caring for them, a Texas A&M study found, they showed a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures when compared to those who didn’t.

Better Memory and Attention Span

While few studies have looked at the effect of plants on indoor environments for seniors specifically, there is evidence from research in office and school settings that plants make a dramatic difference in memory retention, concentration and productivity. Being “under the influence of plants” increased memory retention up to 20 percent, according to one University of Michigan study.

Worker productivity increased when plants were added to an office space, a pair of Norwegian studies found. Not only were workers happier when desk plants were part of the workspace, but concentration levels improved “overwhelmingly.”

“Keeping ornamental plants in the home and in the workplace increases memory retention and concentration,” note researchers at Texas A&M. “Work performed under the natural influence of ornamental plants is normally of higher quality and completed with a much higher accuracy rate than work done in environments devoid of nature.”

Plants for Brown Thumbs

If brown leaves and lifeless stalks haunt your memories of plant care, take heart. Some houseplants are a lot easier to grow than others. Here are some plants that are OK with a little neglect, plants that will restore your sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. We’re going to make it really simple and give you broad categories of easy-care greenery anyone can handle.

Keep in mind that most commercially available plants have been treated with pesticide at the greenhouse. Often, it’s a systemic variety that is absorbed into the plant’s system and can remain there for months or longer. To avoid bringing a toxin into your home, ask for plants that have been grown organically.

Succulents. This group is as varied as the desert landscape. They like good light and drying out between less frequent waterings than other plants. Their thick leaves store water, making them tough and hardy. Don’t let water sit in the tray underneath the pot of a succulent, or it’s likely to get root rot. Put stones or gravel in the tray to lift the pot and avoid overwatering altogether. Varieties to try include the popular snake plant, or even a cactus.

Violets. Want something that will flower? Violets don’t require a lot of light or attention to produce blooms for months. The secret? Water violets from the bottom, never the top of the pot. Put water in the tray underneath and then set the pot in the water. Make sure the tray isn’t huge; violets like to be moist but not soggy. Put them in a north window in summer to avoid burning the leaves. Better yet, if you love your violet so much you’d like to have more, just cut off a leaf, dip it in root hormone (available at garden centers) and plant it in another pot. Wait a month or so for tiny leaves to push up near the stem.

Pothos. It may not be the most interesting houseplant, but pothos will tolerate artificial lights, it can grow hanging or on a counter, and you can plant cuttings from the trailing stems to make more plants for you or your friends. Spice things up with gold or variegated (green plus another color) varieties.

Plants Enhance Sense of Control

The research above demonstrates that the mere presence of plants indoors is beneficial in various ways. But can the act of caring for a living thing, in this case a plant, bestow beneficial effects? One study seems to tell us it can.

Nursing home residents may feel a loss of control over many aspects of their lives. They may have little say over what they do, who they see and what they eat. Researchers split 91 subjects into three groups. The nursing home director gave the first group a speech about their responsibility for their own lives. He also gave these residents a choice of nights they could watch a movie. Finally, each resident in this first group received a plant and was told that they would be responsible for its care.

A second group listened to the same speech, but with all references to personal responsibility omitted. This group was assigned a movie night and told that a nurse would care for the plant. The last group had no speech and didn’t get a plant.

Results were dramatic. Residents in the first group became happier and their activity level increased. After 18 months, with no additional differentiation, only 15 percent of residents in the first group had died compared to 30 percent in the last two groups.

Horticultural Therapy and Outdoor Settings

Abundant studies have shown that garden settings provide numerous benefits, including a reduction in pain, stress, agitation, and falls; an improvement in attention, sleeping patterns, and vitamin D absorption; and a decrease in the need for antipsychotic and “take as needed” medication. Not only do these factors improve quality of life, but they may reduce costs in a residential setting.

Designed for dementia patients, wander gardens are a new take on an old concept. All plants in the garden are edible, the garden itself is enclosed to prevent straying, and all paths lead back to the residence. One study found that inappropriate behaviors of patients at a locked facility decreased substantially within 30 minutes of their finding the unlocked door to such a garden.

One company that started out designing therapy gardens for patients in hospital settings branched out to assisted-living communities. Designs for Generations owner Jack Carman, tipped off by his wife who works in geriatric management, studied how therapeutic gardens could affect mental behavior, especially among people with cognitive disorders.

“Good therapy for patients and their families notwithstanding, therapy gardens also provide a welcome change of pace for doctors, nurses and other caregivers, whose jobs are both demanding and often very stressful,” says Carman.

Seniors’ Outdoor Survey

With evidence pointing to the importance of plants in the environment, planners needed a measurement to determine how to best meet older adults’ needs for time spent outside while in residential home care. The Seniors’ Outdoor Survey (SOS) is an observational tool for assessing how well outdoor environments at long-term care settings support residents’ preferences and usage of the space.

Ratings are given in five categories: access to nature, outdoor comfort and safety, walking and outdoor activities, indoor-outdoor connection and connection to the world. A total of 60 items across the categories are ranked, giving institutional designers solid goals for spaces that enhance the resident experience.

The tool aims to eliminate typical barriers to outdoor access such as inadequate shade and seating, unsafe walkways and self-locking doors. Researchers found that prior to the development of SOS, it was difficult to determine which environmental characteristics best supported the use of outdoor space.


What Is the Evidence to Support the Use of Therapeutic Gardens for the Elderly?,” NIH.

5 health benefits of houseplants,” Treehuger.

5 Benefits of Houseplants,” Bayer.

Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Ellison Chair in International Floriculture,” Texas A&M.

The Benefit of Pets and Animal-Assisted Therapy to the Health of Older Individuals,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Studies Prove that Desk Plants Can Improve Worker Concentration and Productivity,” Inhabitat.

Long-term effects of a control-relevant Intervention with the Institutionalized Aged,” Centre for Confidence and Well-being.

The Seniors’ Outdoor Survey: An Observational Tool for Assessing Outdoor Environments at Long-Term Care Settings,” Oxford University Press.

Wander gardens: Expanding the dementia treatment environment,” Research Gate.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Best Single Resource for Senior Benefit Programs Expands

Best Single Resource for Senior Benefit Programs Expands

Millions of older Americans don’t know how to check if they’re eligible for benefits, but you can find them here at a single agency, with more physical locations than ever.

Where can you get help with resources for senior housing, food stamp eligibility, retirement jobs and so much more? The National Council on Aging (NCOA) just added 20 new locations, known as Benefits Enrollment Centers (BECs), where seniors can get personal assistance finding help.

Millions of older Americans can now visit 69 BECs in 36 states to check if they’re eligible for benefits programs to help pay expenses of daily living. Better yet, they’ll get help filling out application forms, which can be half the battle.

“Half of people with Medicare live on incomes of less than $26,200 a year, and they often lack the resources needed to meet basic living expenses,” said Leslie Fried, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Benefits Access, which oversees the network. “The BECs provide one-on-one assistance that is essential for older adults trying to access vital programs that often have confusing applications or complicated eligibility requirements.”

The mission of the NCOA is to help people aged 60 and up meet the challenges of aging, with an emphasis on those who are struggling. Veterans, minority populations, those with disabilities or those who are homeless are particular targets for the program. However, all seniors are welcome, regardless of income or situation.

If you can’t get to an enrollment center, go to this NCOA website page for links to services and three useful tools. The Benefits CheckUp tool tells you if you qualify for help with food, medicine, rent and other daily expenses. The Economic CheckUp offers tips and resources for saving money, avoiding scams, following a budget and finding a job. Finally, the My Medicare Matters tool examines how to make the most of benefits and find the best plan for you.

Benefit Programs

Think that there’s nothing available for someone like you? More than 6 million seniors have qualified for $24 million in benefits, and many of them thought their income was too high, or had no idea how many programs are offered in their state.

Save Money on Summer Utility Bills

Summer is just around the corner, and many older adults will be financially stressed by the cost of cooling their living space. How to cope?

NCOA is a fine place to start, with a webpage devoted to energy assistance benefits . You may be eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for help with utility bills. The Weatherization Assistance Program provides money to insulate your residence, regardless of whether you rent or own. You will have to meet income qualifications, however. Finally, alternative sources of energy assistance may be available to you as a senior American.

But what about those of us who don’t qualify for a program, but would rather spend money on ice cream than a higher energy bill? Here are seven simple ways to save money this summer:

1. Pull the plug. Did you know your computer, television, toaster and other electrical devices are using power even when they’re not on? The only time they’re not costing you is when the plug is out of the socket. If you don’t want the hassle of pulling the plug, especially on devices you use often, consider getting a Smart Strip , which automatically cuts power when a device isn’t in use.

2. Close vents and doors. Shut off rooms and areas that aren’t in use, even if it’s just for a day. If you have a sewing room that you won’t be in until the weekend, shut the vent and close the door so you’re not paying to air condition unused space. You can insulate around the door and install a sweep or draft dog at the bottom to cut down on leaks.

3. Foam your home. Get a can of spray insulation and hunt down the gaps where air is slipping by your dryer vent or plumbing. This is one project you don’t have to be a handyman to do well.

4. Use daylight. Try turning off as many lights as possible. If you’re always in the kitchen, you don’t need every light in the living room turned on. Check to see that older bulbs are replaced with energy-saving LED light bulbs that will last for years.

5. Hang ‘em high. Laundry, that is. Your dryer is probably eating nearly as much energy as the refrigerator, which consumes the most of any appliance. If you can spin out most of the water and hang laundry over chairs or on a clothesline, you’ll see the difference on your bill.

6. Ban the oven. Think of ways to avoid using your oven during the summer. Put more salads on the menu, or use a toaster oven that doesn’t cost as much to heat.

7. Spare the air conditioner. Use fans instead for those days that aren’t sweltering, or when temperatures are cooler, such as in the morning.

Medication assistance programs cover not only patient assistance programs through Medicare and the state, but also savings on prescriptions and discount cards. You could be eligible to get discounts on medications or copays and deductibles. On average, seniors who apply for these benefits receive $4,000 per year in assistance.

Income assistance programs can provide cash for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Food and nutrition help includes the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and home delivered or group meals, in addition to the better-known Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program , formerly known as Food Stamps.

You may be aware of Section 8 housing, but have you heard of the Lifeline or Link-Up programs? Other little-known benefits exist to help you age in place by making utilities more affordable, or helping with repair costs to keep your home safe and compliant with housing codes.

Tax relief for older Americans takes many forms. You may qualify for an elderly, disabled or veterans credit. Other programs include freezing the valuation on your home; property tax abatement or deferrals; and homestead exemptions rebates, credits, and refunds that many older adults don’t claim because they’re not aware the programs exist.

NCOA can also help you find employment, no matter your age. Have you considered being a foster grandparent or senior companion? A pair of federal jobs programs might be the ticket you need to get back into the workforce, or browse, the employment site that’s for seniors only.

Need help finding free or reduced public transit, legal services, respite care, education programs or other services? NCOA can help with all of that, too. Find it under the “And More” button on the benefits page .

Economic Help

There’s plenty of information on the internet about money management, employment and what to do if you’re in debt, but it can be hard to find information specifically written for seniors. In addition, the NCOA site offers additional tools and tips to make planning and taking action easy. Quotes from people like you who have successfully navigated various financial issues offer encouragement to stay the course.

You’ll be asked to enter your zip code and what specific subjects you’d like information about. You can check one box, or all, depending on your needs. The site returns general information, as well as programs applicable to your state and area. You can compare renting vs. home ownership, get advice on legal issues or find out how to set up a budget.

Medicare Advice

Is there anyone who hasn’t been confused about Medicare benefits? NCOA gives you one place where you can explore coverage choices, understand your costs, research options and get a roadmap for what to expect from health insurance after age 65.

Better yet, it’s written for normal people! Buttons on the main Medicare page offer information tailored to those brand new to Medicare, familiar with the plan, ready to sign up or who are enrolled but want to switch plans.

The site also offers helpful articles such as what you need to know before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan and how to avoid late enrollment penalties. There’s even a Medicare Map to define different options and help you understand how they work together to provide coverage. The page includes a button to Get Answers Now for any questions you may have. There’s even an option to enter your email to get reminders that will ensure you don’t overlook your enrollment period.

For the 10,000 baby boomers who turn 65 every day, the NCOA provides a uniquely apt resource for the economic challenges ahead.


NCOA Expands Network Dedicated to Connecting Seniors to Benefits,” NCOA.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills,” US News.

Low Vision Lighting,” WebRN-MacularDegeneration.

How Many Lumens Do I Need?,” 1000Bulbs Lighting Blog.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Magnifiers for Low Vision

From the tried-and-true to the latest developing technology, here are some of the best magnifying and sight-enhancing devices to make the most of low vision.

From the tried-and-true to the latest developing technology, here are some of the best magnifying and sight-enhancing devices to make the most of low vision.

An estimated 5.5 million seniors in the U.S. are blind or visuallyimpaired, and more than 13 million Americans are affected by macular degeneration, according to the National Federation for the Blind.

A gradual loss of eyesight can prevent older adults from doing beloved hobbies such as woodworking and sewing. Reading may become next to impossible, and everyday chores, such as using a phone or computer, are more and more difficult. Low vision can prevent a senior from aging at home, and severely limit the activities they’re able to do no matter where they live.

Thankfully, many seniors have been able to return to these activities by using adaptive aids, from the very simple to the latest technological marvel. Here, we take a look at some of the best-rated magnifying devices, as well as the latest technology. Oftentimes, a new user’s most emphatic comment is “Why didn’t I get this sooner?”

Devices are listed from the simplest and least costly to the most complex. Prices are approximate and the least expensive we could find online at the time of writing.

Light Bulbs for Low Vision

It seems like such a simple thing, choosing a light bulb. You find the right size, compare prices, and make a decision. You get LED bulbs because they’re by far the best deal over time, and you won’t have to balance on a chair to change the can lights in the ceiling. Other than that, what’s the big deal?

A lot, especially if you have macular degeneration. When you’re picking an LED bulb, it’s important to get the type that is labeled “daylight.” The light it throws off makes colors crisper, enhances contrast and reduces glare. LED bulbs give off a lot of light without producing much dangerous heat.

Additionally, get the bulb with the most available lumens, which is a measure of visible light. Most standard-size LED light bulbs are available with 900 or more lumens to make your home brighter. Experts recommend about 5,000 lumens of light in a 250-square-foot room, but more is better when you have low vision. To really pump up the light, try a bulb like these that throw out 2,680 lumens each. The investment of $42.50 for three is well worth the added safety.

Other types of light you might be curious about include fluorescent, which provides the brightest light. Unfortunately, it also produces a lot of glare. Halogen bulbs reduce the glare, but they heat up more than others. You can only use halogen bulbs in halogen lamps, including halogen torchieres, which cast light upwards and provide nice brightness to living rooms and bedrooms.

Full-spectrum lighting sounds appealing, but some eye specialists caution against it. While it mimics sunlight and enhances color and contrast, it contains blue light, which is known to damage the retina.

  • For under $10, a handheld magnifying glass with three LED lights can be indispensable for reading small print such as on prescription bottles, seeing the time on a digital clock, hitting the right buttons on the microwave or any number of daily tasks. This one from MagniPros is especially nice with magnification that varies from three times to 4.5 times in the main acrylic lens, and a smaller lens for 25 times enlargement. About $9.

  • If you’re looking for a desktop magnifier to help you read, try the Satechi ReadMate It combines five times magnification with three LED lights, and moves easily across a flat surface. It’s available in five colors to either blend in with your d├ęcor or stand out so you can find it quickly. Reviewers say it’s well-built and works well for viewing photos, too. About $25.

  • Oftentimes, those with low vision need a combination of more light and magnification for tasks at hand. A visor such as this one by Carson leaves your hands free to tie flies, quilt or write a letter. The LED lamp offers a range of light intensity, while the comfortable headband adjusts to any size user. About $31.

  • This magnifying floor lamp not only earns great ratings, but is about half or one-third the price of similar models. Set it by a favorite reading chair, next to the seat where you sew or at your hobby table. The 2.25times lens is 5 inches wide, and a gooseneck can rotate left, right, up or down for easy viewing. The light switch also controls varying light intensity. About $39.

    Tip : For information on how to choose a magnifying lamp, try the informative guide .

  • The Carson TV Magnifier turns your TV screen into a digital aid. Just place it over your reading material to transfer the full-color image to your TV. It’s easy to connect with a cable. The magnification depends on the size of your screen, but LED illumination ensures that the image on the screen is bright. About $68.

  • If you need multiple color modes for greater contrast, try Mustcam’s Handheld Digital Magnifier for reading. Magnification can go all the way up to 9.5 times on a 3.5-inch screen with this battery-powered, cordless device. About $124.

  • The Onyx Portable Video Monitor reads any document aloud, and you can read along if you like on a high contrast screen that magnifies up to 131 times. Comfortably switch to voice mode when your eyes tire, or listen to documents being read on the other side of the room. The touch screen makes it easy to operate. About $3,695.

  • On the forefront of breaking technology, eSight claims to make glasses that let the legally blind see. While it won’t work for everyone, the unique visor fits over glasses for all-day, hands-free wearability. The unprecedented integration of hardware and software allows users to change from faraway viewing to reading a book almost instantly with a remote-size control unit, and images arrive in real time. A free, half-hour demo is available at locations across the country, or try a $500 15-day trial with support in the comfort of your home. At about $10,000, these glasses aren’t cheap, but for some they are priceless.


Fact Sheet: Low Vision,” National Federation of the Blind.

Top Rated Low Vision Aides,” Google.

Low Vision Lighting,” WebRN-MacularDegeneration.

How Many Lumens Do I Need?,” 1000Bulbs Lighting Blog.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, May 4, 2018

She Started Exercising at 56 and Became a Bodybuilder

At 81, Ernestine Shepherd has washboard abs and encourages others to get fit.

When she was growing up, Ernestine Shepherd never exercised. She was exempt from physical education at school due to an injury from a car accident. The Baltimore native loved chocolate cake and all kinds of junk food. But at 56, the high school receptionist was trying on bathing suits with her sister when both of them had a moment many of us can relate to: they looked in the dressing-room mirror and didn’t like what they saw.

The duo decided to take a healthy approach to the problem and started aerobics classes. Weightlifting followed, and Ernestine’s sister, Velvet, began competing in bodybuilding competitions. Initially, Ernestine was less than enthusiastic about pumping iron.

“The myth was if you did weights as women you would end up looking like a man so I didn’t want to do it,” she recalls.

Velvet also became a motivational speaker. She and Ernestine would work out together in matching outfits. But Velvet fell ill. Before she died from a brain aneurysm, she made her sister promise two things: to continue motivating others and to grab a spot in history with her name in the Guiness book of world records.

Ernestine was devastated by the death of her sister. She went through a period of depression and panic attacks that left her wondering if she could ever fulfill the promises she’d made. Eventually, it was those two vows that motivated her to resume training and in 2010, Ernestine garnered the title of world’s oldest female bodybuilder.

These days, Ernestine still walks 10 miles every morning even though she says her days of running marathons are over. After her walk, she arrives at the gym at 7:30am to lead classes and work out for another four hours.

Her 1700-calorie diet consists of six small meals a day that often starts with oatmeal, a handful of walnuts and crushed pineapple for breakfast. Another meal might include a baked potato, chicken and asparagus, while a third could include brown rice and turkey. Tuna, spinach and sweet potato often appears on her menu with daily servings of egg whites, both cooked and raw.

Ernestine gets a mere four hours of sleep.

“I find that is enough sleep for me. I don’t take naps. I’m so happy to do what I do and I thank God for giving me the energy, strength and willpower to do this,” she says.


Ernestine Shepherd,” Wikipedia.

Meet the 80-year-old bodybuilder who started working out at 56,” The Independent UK.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Fashion Tips for Seniors

Fashion Tips for Seniors

Looking great over 60 isn’t as hard as you think when you follow these expert fashion tips with a nod to your personal style.

What do you see when you open your closet? Is it full of clothes that make you feel good about yourself when you wear them? Or, like most of us, do you have an assortment of shapeless tops to cover up batwing arms and the fat that moved straight to your midsection when you turned 50?

The good news is that the basic rules for your wardrobe haven’t changed. Classic looks with a great fit are still the basis as we age. Putting together those looks is easy once you know the simple rules that can help you pick outfits that enhance your shape.

Will your choices be limited to frumpy or too-young? What can make fashion choices harder is a lack of age-appropriate images in print. If you want to see how aging actresses define their style with aplomb, check the photos here . However, there are plenty of ways to make your own look, and it’s not as hard as you might think.

The first step to a style makeover is putting aside the muumuus and mom jeans (or the too-small pants that give you muffin-top extreme). Embrace the body you have, and the rest is simple.

Love Your Curves

Where to go for Senior Fashion

Maybe you already have your favorite store, but you’d like to branch out to push your style boundaries. Or you’re ready to change your look, but your budget says no. Here are some of the best places recommended by other older adults to find fashion that works.

Fall in love with the looks at Sundance , but don’t buy unless you have a few thousand to toss away on a wardrobe. Sundance offers super-comfortable elastic waistbands in many pants, combined with interesting textures and a modern Western vibe. Identify styles you like, and see if you can replicate them with thrift store finds.

If you have money to burn, Net a Porter sells designer looks online. One hot fashion tip is to spend a lot of money on a great pair of shoes and fancy purse to make your whole outfit look expensive.

Other stores that get kudos from seniors includeZulily,Soft Surroundings,Chicos andJ.Jill. Hundreds more exist, and you can check them out online to get ideas for what’s trending, or what length top looks best with capris, for example. Then, you’re ready to go on the hunt.

Thrift and consignment stores offer the most bang for your dollar anywhere. Here’s where you can get double-ply cashmere for under 10 dollars, or a silk blouse for half that. Be open about sizing, and search the racks for pieces put in the wrong place or that simply run large or small. If you love it, try it on.

Hint: Natural fibers such as cotton, wool and cashmere can be stretched (as much as one size up) by immersing in water with a few capfuls of fabric softener or hair conditioner. Squeeze gently, then place on a towel to dry. Stretch the fabric by pulling firmly several times in the direction you want it to “grow.”

ARC, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores offer racks of clothing that are a deal any day, but especially when they are cut to half price. (Check individual stores for half-price days.) You can also get a deal with a senior discount that varies by store and region. Ask if the chain has an upscale outlet such as Denver Goodwill’s Deja Blue where shoppers pick through designer brands in good condition.

You might be able to get some shopping cash by consigning clothes in good shape that you no longer want. Check your area for consignment stores, but be sure to check what age and size they cater to. Consignment stores targeting working women will likely have basics that will work for you, and it’s always worth perusing accessories and handbags.

Don’t forget eBay! Shopping is a 24/7 experience for new and used items on this giant mall-and-garage-sale in the cloud. This is a great spot to snag anything from a bright red purse to an art deco scarf, as the possibilities are truly endless. Remember to keep an eye on seller satisfaction ratings and return policies to avoid disappointment.

A common misconception is that you need to cover up unwanted curves, leading many women to hide in bulky sweaters or shapeless tops. But wearing clothing that’s too big for your frame can make your proportions look worse, not better. This is especially true if you are plus-size and petite.

To draw attention away from upper arms, wear bell sleeves or long flutter sleeves. Another flattering look features close -fitting sleeves that end just below the elbow. For cooler weather, choose shirts with long sleeves that you can roll up the forearm if the temperature warms. Add a kimono-style jacket over a knit top to give a pop of texture and color.

An easy mistake is purchasing outerwear that’s boxy in shape. Puffy down jackets are warm, but not the best look (unless you’re camping). Instead, choose a belted wool coat or a form-fitting long sweater. Browse designer Stephen Hadley’s Generous Fashions site to spark ideas for new looks.

Shape Up Your Wardrobe

Many older women gravitate toward baggy pants and maxi dresses with no waistline. This is a mistake, according to fashion blogger Catherine Brock. She recommends garments that have a defined shape. An A-line skirt looks good on almost any size frame, for example.

Choose sheath dresses that give your body a smooth silhouette. Throw on a jacket or kaftan if you’d like a little more cover, but watch the fit: A huge jacket can overwhelm a slimming dress.

Knowing the best style for your body type can help you feel confident about clothing choices.

If your body is pear-shaped, with great curves and a slender torso, choose clothing that draws attention to your shoulders. Embellished tops that clinch under the bust and flow out over hips work well. And don’t forget that a great necklace draws attention up toward your face and pairs well with a simple shirt and pair of jeans.

Apple-shaped bodies don’t need extra volume around the midsection. A long, floaty coat over a monochromatic base layer flatters this body type. You can also try a high-waisted flounce skirt to add some bulk down below for a balanced outline.

If your hips, waist and bust size are similar, you have what’s known as a banana shape. Flatter your figure with ruffles at the bust of a shirt or dress, or try some tapered pants that get slimmer at your ankles.

For more ideas on how to dovetail your personal style favorites with your body type, check out the Stitch Fix style guide on how to dress for your body shape. The trendy site can send outfits chosen just for you to your home, where you can try them on and decide to buy or return. Although not specifically for seniors, many of their styles are ageless, and they have an “ask an expert stylist” button for help with decisions.

Face Up to the Facts

Did you know the shape of your face influences what collar styles look best on you? For instance, if you have a long, thin face, a rounded collar is a better choice than a V-neck, which looks best on a wider face.

In fact, you should consider the shape of your face when choosing sunglasses, jewelry and even how to wear your hair. If this sounds confusing, use the lifehacker blog to decide which of six face types you have, and how to make the most of it. Men can check it out for flattering beard styles and shirt collars, too.

In the Swim

Sigh. Searching through the racks of bathing suits at many stores can be one of the most depressing acts known to older women. The sisterhood agrees that the mall does not have enough suits made for older figures. But take heart, there is an answer.

Online stores such as Swimsuits for All cater to those of us with less than bikini-ready bodies. Here, you can buy a top a size smaller than the bottom, or choose boy shorts instead of a French cut bikini bottom that exposes every inch of cellulite.

At these specialty sites, larger busts get maximum support. Mix and match for a fashion statement that flatters every body, such as combining a solid bottom and print top. Or, choose from one-piece creations with interesting cutouts, or darker side panels that boost the illusion of a slimmer shape.

Budget-friendly choices include using whatever you have and pairing it with a pair of solid shorts or Capri tights, perfectly acceptable at the beach or pool. If you’d like a little more coverage, choose a long, flowing cover-up like this one on sale at Venus .

For more tips to get you in the water, or at least at the shoreline, peruse this article on how to find a flattering suit .

Know Your Best Colors

Guys Can Dress Better, Too

Older men have it easy at work. A suit and tie just don’t change much from age 20 to age 70. But what about leisure time and casual Friday? What’s in and what’s out? We can help!

Perhaps the first thing to mention is a ban on socks with sandals. Don’t do it. Second piece of advice: no calf-length athletic socks pulled up high, period. You are looking 99 percent better already! Third: Solids and subtle patterns flatter everyone. Fourth: Whatever you wear, make sure it fits. Tight pants and a huge top do not hide a big belly. Just like the ladies, you need to flatter whatever size you are with a perfect fit.

Men need to pay attention to general style trends, such as if pleated pants are out or in. Trouser leg widths change over time, just like tie width. But guys have it pretty easy in the color department, with khaki, navy, browns and greys the eternal wardrobe staples.

However, men are more likely to be colorblind than women. If you can’t figure out whether to pair that coral polo with your black shorts or the maroon pair, it’s time to consult a fashion expert.

Enter the Nordstrom Personal Stylist . This is your fashion angel who will set you off on the right track for every occasion. You don’t have to buy an entire new wardrobe, but your stylist can show you pieces that mix and match well (and those that don’t), guide you to current trends, and artfully steer you away from an overly youthful look. In sum, your stylist can make you look great. Click on the link above to make a free appointment so this wonderful person can trot to your dressing room with styling suggestions and pieces to try on for a whole new you.

Not in the mood for a department store? Trendy StitchFix sends clothes to your door, and their personal stylist will work with you online. You can read up on fashion at their men’s style guide, which answers such pressing questions as, “How do I build a business casual wardrobe?”

Take the tips you learn there to make better decisions wherever you buy your clothes.


Natural fibers always look rich. Linen and cotton for summer, wool gabardines and sweaters for winter. Take them to the dry cleaner. You’ll look like a million bucks.

All of us have colors that complement our skin tone, hair and eyes. If you don’t know what your best colors are, have a friend help out as you hold different fabrics under your face. Or, try this online to get started.

Knowing your colors doesn’t mean that, say, yellow and pink work, but you should never wear blue. Rather, it’s understanding the shades of colors that are best. Pink, for example, can range anywhere from a deep orange tone (coral) to the lightest pastel rose. And while you may look fantastic in a salmon shade, it’s possible that something similar, such as bright orange, isn’t flattering.

You don’t have to discard clothes that aren’t in your color palette. But knowing shades that suit you best gives guidance for future purchases, such as when you love the fit of a blouse but can’t decide whether to buy it in red or turquoise.

Finally, you need basics (a black jacket or white cotton blouse, for example) that will pair with just about anything.

What Works for Everyone

There are some styles that suit older women across a wide range of body types and style preferences. Think of these as easy go-to pieces that you can dress up with a jacket or jewelry. Blazers and cardigan sweaters go great with V-neck tops, shift dresses and button-down shirts.

“In warmer months, V-neck tops with elbow-length sleeves are the new T-shirt for seniors,” says Brock.

She emphasizes the need for older women to have wardrobe staples like a black blazer, dark-wash jeans, straight-leg trousers and T-shirts in various colors with different sleeve lengths and necklines.

Personal Style

Dressing your best doesn’t mean looking like everyone else. If you love to travel, add a unique piece of jewelry from a trip. Maybe you love vintage pieces and can incorporate them into your personal look. It doesn’t have to be jewelry; a 1930s dress or retro beaded sweater can turn heads.

It’s never too late to get your own style, or change it up. Dig around in your jewelry box to find pieces you haven’t worn in years but still love. Or, bring a friend to a bead boutique and make your own personalized bracelet. Maybe you adore funky shoes that make a statement. Spend a bundle on a pair of awesome boots, and get the rest of your clothes from the thrift store.

Are you afraid to stand out and look different than everyone else? Take courage by watching Iris, a documentary about eclectic New York style icon Iris Apfel. At age 93, she sports glasses frames that dwarf her face and wears enough costume jewelry all at once to decorate five lesser women. Go big or go home!

Apfel chugs out in her wheelchair to bargain for accessories with a street vendor, or answers questions for adoring fans at a fashion retrospective featuring, of course, Apfel’s closet and sartorial style.

“I like to improvise,” she says, and so will you after seeing her flaunt a bevy of bold, wild selections.


Embrace Your Curves! Why Covering Up Isn’t The Answer After 60,” Sixty and Me.

The Budget Fashionista,” The Budget Fashionista.

How To Find Flattering Bathing Suits For Older Women,” Sixty and Me.

Fashion For Women Over 60 – Look Fabulous Without Trying To Look Younger,” Sixty and Me.

The Complete Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type,” What to Wear.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

May 6 – Tony Blair
British Prime Minister (1997-2007)

May 6 – Tony Blair

Tony Blair was the leader of the labour party and a champion of social justice, cohesion, the equal worth of each citizen and equal opportunity during his stint at Prime Minister. He brought socialism closer to the center and was criticized for being too friendly to capitalism during his tenure.

You wouldn’t think a student described by all his teachers as “a complete pain in the backside” (according to biographer John Rentoul) would have risen so high. In fact, Blair wanted to be a rocker in his teen years and modeled himself after Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger. After a year spent trying to earn a living as a rock promoter, he enrolled in St. John’s College, Oxford, where he was a middling student and played guitar in the band Ugly Rumours.

Wildly popular when he was elected Prime Minister in May 1997, the 43-year-old was also the youngest person to hold the office since 1812. Lauded for his public response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, his government presided over spending increases and introduced the National Minimum Wage Act, Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act. Blair was a negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Blair was supportive of U.S. President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, which got him into hot water at home for his sending troops to the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 Iraq invasion. Some parliamentarians called for Blair to be tried for war crimes and waging a war of aggression.

Resigning as Prime Minister in June 2007, Blair immediately took the post of Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, which he held until 2015. He now heads the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

May 8 – Billy Burnette
Musician (Fleetwood Mac)

May 8 – Billy Burnette

Billy Burnette was born into a musical family and made his first recording at the age of seven on “Hey Daddy (I’m Gonna Tell Santa On You)” with teenage heartthrob Ricky Nelson. Burnettte toured as a guitarist with Brenda Lee while finishing high school.

The strummer put out three solo albums, each titled Billy Burnette. But he gained the most fame as guitarist for the legendary Fleetwood Mac from 1987 it went on hiatus in 1995, writing or co-writing many songs such as “When the Sun Goes Down”. Listen to it, below.

May 15 – George Brett
Baseball Player

May 15 – George Brett

Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett was practically destined to play the game. Brother Ken was a major league pitcher who was in the 1967 World Series at the age of 19, and siblings Bobby and John each had short careers in the minor leagues. As the youngest, George idolized his brothers and wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Brett graduated from high school in 1971 and was chosen in the second round of that year’s baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals. He would play for the team the next 21 years, garnering accolades throughout his career.

Brett is one of only four players in Major League Baseball history to amass 3,000 hits, 3,000 home runs and a .300 career batting average (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial also achieved the feat). He’s the only player in the game’s history to win a batting title in each of three different decades.

A shortstop at the beginning of his career, Brett was switched to third base when he had trouble handling hits to his right side. He won the starting job in 1974, but wasn’t an instant asset at the plate. After some tips from Royal’s batting coach Charlie Lau, Brett finished the year with a .282 average.

These days, Brett stays busy as lead owner (with brother Bobby) of several sporting teams on the West Coast. He is married with three children, and continues to raise money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He and dog Charlie campaigned for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against leaving animals in hot cars.

May 16 – Pierce Brosnan

May 16 – Pierce Brosnan

Shaken, not stirred. Irishman and naturalized American Pierce Brosnan’s most famous role may be that of spy and martini drinker James Bond, who he portrayed from 1994-2005. You may also know the handsome actor as the title detective in hit series Remington Steele, which played from 1982-1987, or from any of his dozens of movie roles.

You may think that with looks and fame to spare, Brosnan’s had an easy life, but you’d be wrong. His father took off when he was an infant, leaving his Catholic mother to scrutiny. She sought a better life for herself and her son by becoming a nurse, but she found work in London and was forced to leave her 4-year-old son in the care of her parents. She came home once or twice a year, Brosnan recalls.

After his grandparents died, he was in the care of an aunt, and then an uncle, before rejoining his mother and her new husband in London. He speaks disparagingly of his time at school there.

“When you go to a very large city, a metropolis like London, as an Irish boy of 10, life suddenly moves pretty fast. From a little school of, say, seven classrooms in Ireland, to this very large comprehensive school, with over 2,000 children. And you're Irish. And they make you feel it; the British have a wonderful way of doing that, and I had a certain deep sense of being an outsider,” Brosnan says of the time.

After leaving school at 16, he trained as a painter for a year, before seeing a fire eater inspired him to join the circus for three years. Then, he trained as an actor at the Drama Center London, recalling:

“When I found acting, or when acting found me, it was a liberation. It was a stepping stone into another life, away from a life that I had, and acting was something I was good at, something which was appreciated. That was a great satisfaction in my life.”

Shortly after he left drama school, Brosnan met and eventually married Australian actress Cassandra Harris. Their union was a happy one, and when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it shattered that bliss. Brosnan found solace in painting during that terrible period when operation after operation failed, and his wife eventually died in 1991 at age 43.

Brosnan did eventually marry again in 2001 to American journalist Keely Shaye Smith, with whom he has two children. He continues to perform, to produce, and to contribute his time and money to many environmental causes.

Source: Wikipedia

FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors