Are you getting enough protein? Too much?

How obsessing over protein could be harmful to your health

By Rashelle Brown for Next Avenue

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If you’re like me, you often find yourself confused by how many health headlines contradict one another. Lately, I’ve found this to be true where protein is concerned, particularly the protein needs of adults aged 50 and over.

In one study, published Jan. 1, 2015, in the American Journal of Physiology’s Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists split 20 adults aged 52 to 75 into one group that consumed the U.S. RDA recommended level of protein, and another group that consumed double that amount, measuring levels of whole body protein at the beginning and end of the trial. While both groups maintained a positive protein balance (their bodies synthesized more protein than they broke down), the higher protein group ended up with a higher overall protein balance than the lower protein group. The news media jumped all over this, proclaiming that older adults should double their protein intake if they want to live long, healthy lives.


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Annual fundraiser set for Presbyterian Manor

shutterstock_112614593Farmington Presbyterian Manor’s annual Chicken and Dumplings Dinner and Silent Auction will be 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, March 23, to benefit Presbyterian Manor residents who have outlived their financial resources.

The event will be at Farmington Presbyterian Church, 403 W. Columbia. Meals are $8 each in advance or for carry-out, or $9 each at the door. A group of 10 or more are $7 each.

The Good Samaritan Program depends solely on donations from friends and supporters to care for seniors living at Presbyterian Manor who have outlived their financial resources through no fault of their own. Each year, Farmington Presbyterian Manor has a fundraiser to support the local Good Samaritan Program. Last year’s dinner raised more than $14,000.

“This event is truly a blessing to those in need, and so is everyone who participates,” said Executive Director Jane Hull. “The Farmington community provides tremendous support for this event and throughout the year. We look forward to a big crowd March 23.”

For more information about Farmington Presbyterian Manor, 500 Cayce St., Farmington, contact Heidi Beyer at 573-756-6768 or hbeyer@pmma.org.

Youth is an asset for social services director

R. Campbell-2March is Social Work Month — “an opportunity for social workers across the country to turn the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions they make to society,” according to the National Association of Social Workers.

At Farmington Presbyterian Manor, our own director of social services has the distinction of being the youngest member of our leadership team. Rachel Campbell says her age is something of an advantage when it comes to working with older adults.

“I am younger, so I think a lot of the residents think of me like their grandkids,” Rachel said. “They look at me as family and not just a worker, and that makes it feel more like home.”
In February, Rachel celebrated her first anniversary on staff at Presbyterian Manor. When she joined us, she had just earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and was planning to start on her master of social work degree right away.
Throughout school, Rachel had worked for Belgrade State Bank, and it would have been easy to stay on there, she said. “I was torn, because I knew I still needed my master’s and the bank was flexible. But I was ready to be done with that chapter in my life,” she said.

She applied for social work openings at Presbyterian Manor and one other employer. “I couldn’t even see myself at the other place now. It all fell into place.” Not only has she been able to go to grad school after all, Rachel also received a scholarship from the Emily Huff Gantner Memorial Scholarship Fund for Presbyterian Manor employees.

Rachel said she was initially interested in the field of psychology and behavioral health. Social work, however, seemed like a more marketable degree – but she also discovered it had a lot of the same appeal to her as psychology. She especially likes finding alternatives to medication for residents such as counseling or calming routines. “Some people do need medication, but I really like the idea that we can help them in other ways,” she said.

In long term care, the social worker is also responsible for handling resident concerns, together with the ombudsman. Sometimes she is just making sure that residents’ basic needs are met.
“I have excellent people. They are so nice and lovely, they are like grandmas and grandpas to me. I think the most appealing thing about working in a nursing home is the residents. It’s like a little family,” Rachel said.

How to prevent a real life nightmare at life’s end

A Next Avenue Influencer in Aging urges conversations around death

By Barbara Coombs Lee for Next Avenue

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Editor’s note: This article is part of Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging project honoring 50 people changing how we age and think about aging. 

To my everlasting shame, this boomer spent many of her formative years as an ICU nurse, thoughtlessly pushing tubes down the noses and pounding on chests of dying patients, torturing them with electric shocks, instead of allowing death to come peacefully.

The tragic reality is people who do not communicate their values and priorities for end-of-life care often pay dearly for this failure, by enduring futile, agonizing tests and treatments that only prolong the dying process. It is equally important for people to empower a loved one in writing to be their decision-maker if they are unable to speak for themselves.


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Making communities friendlier for those with dementia

Making Communities Friendlier for Those With Dementia

That’s the goal for the ambitious Dementia Friendly America initiative

By Beth Baker for Next Avenue

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Credit: Courtesy of Paynesville (MN) ACT on Alzheimer’s Caption: Volunteers pass out laminated bookmarks with the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s at the local supermarket

Can a strong community network help ease the challenges faced by people with dementia and their families? That’s the hope of a national volunteer-driven initiative known as Dementia Friendly America (DFA), announced at the White House Conference on Aging in July.

“Our goals are to foster dementia-friendly communities that will enable people who are living with dementia and their care partners to thrive and to be independent as long as possible,” says Olivia Mastry, who’s guiding the effort. “The side benefit is that it’s beginning to normalize [Alzheimer’s], to reduce the stigma. It’s created an environment that’s allowed people to talk about this disease.”


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A cure for senior loneliness is within our reach

We can solve the problem of social isolation by thinking differently about senior housing

By Tim Carpenter for Next Avenue

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Credit: Getty Images

(Next Avenue invited all our 2016 Influencers in Aging to write essays about the one thing they would like to change about aging in America. This is one of the essays.)

The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required that packages of cigarettes display the warning “Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” I wish the Surgeon General would issue this warning: “Caution: Loneliness and Social Isolation May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Yes, just like smoking, loneliness and social isolation are deadly. And just like smoking in the 1960s, our society is just beginning to understand the perils of loneliness and social isolation today. A 2015 study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The New York Times recently ran a story with the headline “Social Isolation Is Killing Us.”


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Make every day Valentine’s Day

How to survive the holiday and keep romance alive 365 days a year — however long you’ve been together

By Terri Orbuch, Ph.D. for Next Avenue

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I always look forward to February and especially Valentine’s Day, but I’m well aware that not everyone does. I love seeing all the red hearts in the stores and enjoy the romantic commercials on TV for diamonds, perfume and lingerie.

It’s hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed by the media barrage to buy cards, flowers and presents.

There’s another way to look at it, however. Valentine’s Day can serve as a useful reminder to practice simple acts of kindness and to show appreciation for the special people in our lives.

While it’s easy to say that every day should be as romantic as Valentine’s Day, we often wind up distracted by all the things we have to do and don’t make time for what I call “relationship upkeep.” Work, routines, kids and other obligations take precedence, and our attention gets deflected everywhere but toward our one and only.


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Want to age better? Join a choir

A groundbreaking study examines the health benefits of making music as we age

By Deborah Quilter for Next Avenue

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Twenty years ago, when academic researcher Julene Johnson wanted to study how music might help the aging process, she couldn’t get funding. Johnson, a professor at the Institute for Health & Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, suspected that music might improve memory, mood and even physical function.

And, she thought, what could be more perfect than choral music? Your instrument is already in your body, and you are bathed in beautiful sound by fellow musicmakers. Singing in a group is fun, so there’s plenty of reason to come back week after week: You get to see your friends and exercise your vocal cords and brain all at once.


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Fighting ageism and unfair treatment in health care

Among the problems: doctors who view depression and anxiety in older adults as ‘normal’

By Terry Fulmer for Next Avenue

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(Next Avenue invited all our 2016 Influencers in Aging to write essays about the one thing they would like to change about aging in America. This is one of the essays.)

Everyone deserves equal treatment — in the broader society and in our health care system. Today, older people are often not treated fairly and do not get the care they deserve, simply because of their age. While one of our great success stories in the 20th century was the stunning gain in human longevity, recent research from The Frameworks Institute, funded by my group, The John A. Hartford Foundation, and others, has found that the majority of us still don’t recognize ageism or its deleterious effects. They call it a “cognitive hole,” a mental blind spot.

As 10,000 of us turn 65 each day, it is critical that we shine a bright light on this insidious prejudice. It is a matter of simple fairness and justice. It is a way to honor the priceless and irreplaceable contributions that older adults make every day to enrich our society and culture. And for those of us at The John A. Hartford Foundation, it is critical to the broader effort to improve care for older people.


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