heart image Heart Health image  Unlocking the mystery of avoiding a nursing home




Is a Nursing Home
in Your Future?

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  • The thought of spending my retirement in a nursing home makes me cringe. Sure I hit age 77 recently, but it's a young 77, and I'm not ready for assisted living yet.

    So when my friends recently endowed me with the title “His Elderliness” it wasn't received with my customary grace. 

    My new title not withstanding. I’d rather be cruising the islands, puttering in my garden or even cleaning the toilet than shuffling off to the rec room for bingo in a nursing home.

    I'm Gene Millen. If you, like me prefer to maintain your independence during your golden years you’d better build strong legs.

    When your legs go the rest of your body begins to slide down the slippery slope toward feebleness, frailty and brain fog.

    Yes it's true...the right kind of anti aging exercise can significantly lower risk of dementia signs or Alzheimers symptoms.

    Stanford University geriatrician, Walter M. Bortz II, M.D. explains.

    “People generally wind up in nursing homes because of incontinence, immobility, or cognitive impairment, which is usually caused by Alzheimer’s disease.”

    “Incontinence and immobility, are intimately related to weakness in leg strength: when the muscles of the thigh and buttocks weaken, so too does one’s control of the bladder and bowels. Because of this, enforced bed rest frequently leads to incontinence.

    The lesson is clear. If you want to avoid the nursing home, you’d better take good care of your legs.”

    William Evans, PhD, eminent exercise physiologist adds another compelling reason for strong lower body strength. Evans says,

    “The principle villain in hip fractures is not the commonly blamed weak bones produced by osteoporosis, but instead, the weak muscles that surround the bones.”

    Dr. Evans and co-researcher Irwin Rosenberg have proven that many of the reductions in function that people associate with aging are actually due to inactivity and lack of strength. But it’s never too late to improve.

    Evans says,

    “Advanced age is not a static irreversible biological condition of unwavering decrepitude. Rather it’s a dynamic state that in most people can be changed for the better no matter how many years they’ve neglected their body in the past.”

    How good are your legs?
    Try the following test created by researchers at CSU in Fullerton for adults ages 60 to 95. It includes a 30-Second Chair Stand, which is an exercise designed to measure your lower body strength and predict your future ability to walk, climb stairs, get out of a chair and keep your balance.

    Here’s what to do.

    • Sit in a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.

    • Cross your arms at the wrists and hold them at your chest.

    • Count the number of times that you can stand up fully in 30 seconds.

    It's easier to do this if you have a friend to time you. How to you stack up?

    Age Minimum Optimum
    60-69 12 18
    70-79 10 17
    80-90 8 15

    If your score is at the top of the range, congratulations—but if not you better get busy on that strength training program you’ve been putting off.

    Dr. Bortz says, “If fractured hips and nursing homes aren’t part of your plan for the future, I seriously recommend that you take regular doses of the universal medicine—regular, structured exercise. It’s safe, cheap and has no side effects.”

    What are you doing to exercise your brain and keep your memory sharp? If you answer is "Not much," check out the brain games at Brain Be Quick™.  

    Related Articles

    Another article on exercise that will help you stay out of a nursing home.



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