Brushing and flossing teeth every day is vital to making sure they stay healthy. Plaque – the enemy of healthy teeth – can build up quickly on teeth that are not brushed regularly. And as we grow older, we become increasing at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, particularly if we do not brush and floss. Whatever your age, it’s important to maintain healthy teeth by brushing at least two times a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride; floss at least once a day; and get regular cleanings and oral exams from your dentist. Additionally, rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash can help lower levels of the bacteria that cause plaque buildup and gum disease.
During a dental exam, seniors can expect their dentist to conduct a complete history of their oral health as well as a full oral exam. Often a cleaning will also be in order. You should be ready to tell your dentist the date of your last dental check-up, as well as any emergency visits. Also, keep track of any recent changes in your gums or teeth, and whether you have recently had difficulty chewing, swallowing, or tasting food. Be sure to let your dentist know if you have had any pain or bleeding in your mouth, or if you’ve noticed any sensitive or loose teeth.
Your dentist should check to see if you have any problems in your bite or jaw, as well as the inside of your cheeks and tongue for signs of infection or ulcers. Finally, they will thoroughly examine your teeth to look for any signs of decay, monitor the condition fillings or crowns are in, and look for cracks or broken teeth.
Be sure to follow any instructions or advice your dentist provides about maintaining your oral health. If you take care of your teeth over the years, they’ll take care of you.
Meditation isn’t just for cloistered monks anymore – it’s becoming increasingly popular in mainstream culture as a method for reducing stress, improving emotional and mental well-being, and grounding oneself. Meditation is practiced by everyone from yoga instructors to high-powered attorneys, and can be done in many different ways. It doesn’t matter whether it involves saying a mantra out loud to calm the mind and focus the imagination, sitting quietly and concentrating on breathing rhythmically, or even praying to a higher power. All of these methods provide similar benefits to the person doing it.
Research has shown that meditation doesn’t just have perceived benefits to one’s mood and overall sense of well-being. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, mitigate chronic pain, promote healthy cells and even lower levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream. All of these meditative benefits provide improved health in both the short-term and the long-term, leading to fewer health problems later in life. And meditation can provide a calmer, more steady outlook on life. A recent study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta found that people who meditated regularly for six weeks exhibited less emotional distress and a lower immune reaction when they were presented with a stressful situation.
But that’s not all. Meditation can actually improve cognitive function and help build and strengthen connections in the brain. A number of studies have confirmed that meditating makes neural pathways more flexible and adaptable, which can help reduce anxiety and improve empathy. And a 2012 study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that regular meditation could actually speed up the processing power of the brain, improving cognitive function. And exciting new research has shown that meditation impacts the areas of the brain that are most effected by Alzheimer’s – potentially slowing the onset of the disease.
A case of the flu is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but because the elderly are especially at-risk for developing serious complications from contracting the flu, they should take extra precautions to stay safe during flu season. People between the ages of 70-80 have less immunity than seniors between the ages of 60-70, and are at even greater risk as a result. Here’s what seniors can do to reduce their risk of contracting flu.
- Get vaccinated Vaccines can help prevent 80-90% of those that get them from contracting the flu, and when more people in the population are vaccinated, the spread of flu is reduced significantly, protecting even those people who did not get the vaccine. Because seniors have higher risk of contracting flu, they should get the vaccine, particularly if they are in a nursing home or retirement community.
- Practice good hygiene Flu spores can remain viable on doorknobs, railings, and other surfaces for hours – so it’s important to frequently wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching them. Caregivers for elderly persons should be especially careful to practice good hand hygiene to prevent transmitting infection.
- Avoid sick persons Most flu transmissions occur when a sick person comes in contact with an uninfected person, and coughs or sneezes in their direction. If you know someone is sick, avoid contact with them until you know they have fully recovered. And if you are sick, stay home from work and avoid social events in order to prevent spreading the flu.
- Maintain your immune system. Your immune system is going to be working overtime to help you recover if you do contract the flu – so it’s important to make sure you are giving it all of the tools it needs to stay strong and ready for the worst. Exercise and diet are two of the best ways to maintain your immune function. Be sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are packed with immune boosting compounds.