Yoga for Seniors
By Gail Packwood
Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice which incorporates specific postures, meditation and breathing exercises. Not originally intended as exercise, it has become increasingly popular as one in recent years. There are many different styles of yoga taught in North America from the very physical to the very gentle. People can receive benefit from practicing yoga at any stage of life, regardless of age or physical ability.
Most of us become less flexible as we get older and may have more trouble with balance. The stretching, breathing and relaxation techniques taught in yoga can have a great benefit to older adults. Yoga can improve posture, strengthen the core – which helps improve balance, and the meditation elements help ease stress and tension as well as improve our overall mood.
The key to successful yoga practice is to go at your own pace and to not push yourself beyond where your body is able to at that moment. This can change from day to day and class to class. A good instructor will encourage the class to challenge itself, but not go beyond where you are comfortable. Do not worry about what anyone around you is doing! If you keep at it, you will definitely see improvement in your muscle tone, balance and flexibility.
Many senior centres and yoga studios offer classes geared towards an older student and if you are new to the form, these would be a good place to give it a try. It is always good to check and see if your instructor has received specific certification in teaching yoga for seniors. It means they will be better able to keep your specific physical needs in mind.
If the studio doesn’t offer classes that cater specifically to seniors, ask if a gentle beginner class is available. Hatha is a form of yoga that tends to be a gentler, slower paced class consisting of a series of poses in a sequence. A Hatha class may be a good starting point for someone new to yoga or if you have not been following a regular exercise regime for a while. Many yoga poses can also be done using a chair or against the wall to help prevent falls – don’t be afraid to ask for support if you feel at all unstable.
The key is to keep your body moving at any age. The movement might be slower than it once was, but you will still gain great benefit from any type of stretching or exercise.
Alcohol one of Canada's top health threats: Study
Alex Consigilo, Toronto Star
It’s a sobering nation-wide report with a stark conclusion: Alcohol is one of the greatest public health threats in Canada. And the provinces are not doing enough to curb its deadly potential.
The report, Strategies to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harms and Costs in Canada: A Comparison of Provincial Policies, was published Wednesday by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Lead author Norman Giesbrecht, a senior scientist at CAMH, said it is mind-boggling how lax harm-reduction policies are across the country.
Giesbrecht’s report, which notes 80 per cent of Canadians drink, ranks provinces on 10 key harm-reduction policies, including pricing, availability, marketing, legal drinking age and warning labels.
Ontario came first, Quebec ranked last, and Giesbrecht was disappointed with each province’s score — Ontario’s first-place ranking only reached 56 per cent of a perfect score.
“There’s lots of room for improvement,” he said. “Alcohol does not get a lot of attention in regards to prevention.
“We have a very high rate of alcohol problems,” said Giesbrecht. “We have to give it more attention if we want to reduce the harm.”
To read the full article: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/03/06/alcohol_one_of_canadas_top_health_threats_study.html
Women’s Heart Health
By Gail Packwood
For years, heart disease was considered a man’s issue. However cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in Canada and in many other parts of the world.
Women’s College Hospital lists these facts that many of us may not be aware of:
- Women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack or stroke.
- Women are ten times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from any other disease.
- Women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer. Cardiovascular disease kills more women 65 years of age and older than all cancers combined.
- One in eight women between the ages of 45 and 64 lives with cardiovascular disease.
- One in four women over 65 lives with some form of cardiovascular disease.
There are many factors that may increase the risk to our heart health. They include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
- Family history
- Poor diet
While these factors affect both men and women, women can often see their blood pressure and cholesterol rise in relation to reaching menopause. With other changes happening in the body at the same time, women in particular need to be mindful and not overlook these additional factors and be sure to monitor them. Regular visits with your health care provider is a good first step to protect against developing some of these conditions. Be sure you are getting the correct screening and testing done and ask your doctor about how your time of life may affect your heart health.
As we age, we tend to become less physically active and many of us also find that we gain weight more quickly. Many studies have shown that being active even 30 minutes five times a week greatly helps our hearts and our overall health. This doesn’t have to be an aggressive cardio workout, a 30 minute walk can also benefit our general health and is often enough to maintain a level of healthy activity. The important thing is to get out and move!
The Heart and Stroke Foundation recently launched The Heart Truth a campaign aimed at raising awareness within women of the warning signs and symptoms of heart disease and stroke.
Women and men experience many of the same warning symptoms of a cardiac incident, however sometimes women describe them in less definite terms. One warning sign is chest or upper body pain. However in women this often is described as more of a “discomfort” rather than pain. It is important to pay attention to any changes in how you are feeling on a day to day basis and to not ignore something because you think it is minor or will “just go away” (Women may be particularly guilty of not paying attention to a warning sign). Any pain or chest or upper body discomfort should be taken seriously.
Other symptoms include sweating, shortness of breath, nausea and light-headedness. If you experience any of these warning signs, seek medical attention immediately.
www.thehearttruth.ca contains many tools and resources including a risk assessment quiz so you can assess what areas in your life and lifestyle might be increasing your chance of developing heart issues.
For more information on women’s heart health, also visit the Women’s College Hospital website www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Payment for blood donors comes to Canada
Two Canadian companies are willing to pay blood donors to get their plasma.
Canadian Plasma Resources in Toronto and Cangene Plasma in Winnipeg are both promoting compensation for plasma donors on their websites, although neither company lists the amount of payment being offered. Canadian Plasma Resources declined a request from CBC for an interview but allowed its facility to be filmed. Cangene Plasma Resources did not respond to an interview request.
While legal, the move to payments is fuelling concerns that compensation could spur people to lie on screening questionnaires, designed to check for risks to the blood supply.
"You don't know if people are telling the truth or not, or if they are motivated simply to earn money by donating plasma," said Rick Janson, a spokesperson for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents employees of Canadian Blood Services, a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories except for Quebec.
Plasma is the portion of the blood that transports water and nutrients to all the cells in the body. It is composed of about 90 per cent salt water and 10 per cent protein and electrolytes. Plasma contains many specialized proteins (antibodies) that aid in fighting infections and can be used to make life saving medical products, according to Cangene.
Starting in the 1980s, thousands of Canadians became infected with HIV and hepatitis C from tainted blood and plasma imported from the U.S., where donors are paid.
In the wake of the scandal and an inquiry, Justice Horace Krever set out conditions for a safer blood supply in 1997. One of the key recommendations from the inquiry was that "significant efforts be made to ensure that blood components and blood products used in Canada are made from the blood and plasma collected from unpaid donors."
Krever told CBC News he still stands by that recommendation.
To read the full article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/02/22/blood-donation-pay-plasma.html
Seniors with rheumatoid arthritis more vulnerable to infection
Seniors with rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk of serious infections that could be overlooked, Canadian doctors say.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious inflammatory condition that affects between three to four per cent of seniors. Seniors who have rheumatoid arthritis are vulnerable to infections such as pneumonia that can put them in hospital.
In Friday's issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research, researchers estimated that if 100 seniors with rheumatoid arthritis were followed for one year, five would be hospitalized for an infection.
Dr. Sasha Bernatsky, a professor in the rheumatology and clinical epidemiology divisions at McGill University in Montreal, and her co-authors used hospital administrative data to compare infections in RA patients in Ontario over age 66 with other people with rheumatoid arthritis of the same age and sex who weren't diagnosed with an first infection.
"Our findings were interesting on a couple of different levels," Bernatsky said.
First, people with RA and other chronic health problems such as chronic lung disease and kidney disease were at increased risk of infection. Since those diseases were strong predicators, it's a signal that doctors should keep a close watch on them, she said.
"When it came to medication exposures, there were several of these immune suppressing drugs that seem to be associated with an increased risk of infection. But where the dramatic risk was really was for our oldest drug which is prednisone."
To read the full article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/03/01/arthritis-rheumatoid-infections.html
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