Take advantage of warm weather

Whether you can get around independently or need assistance with a walker or wheel chair, you still can enjoy the joys of a spring day.   Break free from the chains of winter and go outside for a breath of fresh air and sunshine.  A direct benefit of sunshine is Vitamin D, which is necessary for the brain, bones and muscle function.  Using sunlight as a source of vitamin D, also has been found to improve cognitive function.  It is also beneficial to get outside and meet others including adults, children and pets.  A simple change in scenery can rejuvenate anyone, but it is especially beneficial for the elderly.

It is important to be aware of temperature.  As it increases, it is extremely important to stay hydrated.  Dehydration at any time of the year can affect muscle function, blood pressure, which can lead to a dangerous situation.

Suggested things to do:

  1. Attend sporting events.  It is extra special when it’s your grandchild you are watching, yet it’s rewarding to watch local children playing soccer, baseball, swim meets, etc.
  2. Go fishing.  Many piers are wheelchair accessible.
  3. Take a walk.  Go a short distance and turn around and head back.
  4. Watch birds.  Install a bird house, bird feeder or bird bath outside to attract birds.  It is relaxing and enjoyable seeing the variety of birds you can attract and try to identify them.
  5. Fly a kite.  Children will be excited to help and you will know they are enjoying it as you hear laughter and see ear-to-ear grins.  They will have fun to get the kite in the air and others will also enjoy watching it.
  6. Eat a picnic lunch at a park or playground.  Elderly people enjoy watching children and take delight in all their busy activities.
  7. Participate in community events.
  8. Enjoy summer holidays.  Fireworks and parades bring out the kid in all of us.
  9. Sit by a pool or lake.  Simply putting your feet in the water is always relaxing.

Proper gardening boils down to good body mechanics

Being outside in the fresh spring air, enjoying the birds and plants in our gardens is something to look forward to.  A truly rewarding type of exercise is gardening.  As with any exercise, gardening can be stressful on your body.  Through proper body positioning and techniques, you can reduce pain and injury from gardening.

First, as you would with any sport, stretching your muscles in the upper and lower body is important both prior to and after gardening.  By staying flexible and limber, it makes gardening tasks easier to handle and light stretching when you are done can prevent stiffness later.

Second, be realistic.  As we age, we may not be able to do as much as we used to do.  A majoriy of injuries occur from doing too much too quickly.  Spread out your tasks throughout the week.

Third, use proper body mechanics.  Avoid using your back when lifting. Bend your knees, keep your back straight and use your legs to carry the weight as you hold the object close to your body.  When shoveling, dig, lift and turn your whole body before you empty the contents.  Avoid lifting, twisting and throwing, especially heavy or wet materials.  Refrain from bending forward for long periods of time which puts pressure on your back and knees.  Instead, sit on the ground or a stool.

Fourth, take a break.  Alternate the use of different muscle groups and minimize repetitive muscle and spine movement.  Take a break every 30-60 minutes, drink water and stretch as you decide what needs to be done next.

Fifth, know your boundaries.  Most injuries happen when you do one last thing.  Stop before you become fatigued, stiff or sore.  If there is pain, put ice on it for 15-20 minutes.  Depending on the severity, contact your health care provider.

Lastly, use ergonomic garden tools.  These tools allow for a safe, productive and injury free gardening experience.

Happy Gardening.

Maplewood Sauk Prairie reveals the benefits of gardening.

Gardening days are not gone forever just because you are growing older.  In fact, research has proven that gardening provides a lot of benefits for seniors.  The rewards are the same whether it is container or land plot gardening.

Gardening is dual purposed being both relaxing and therapeutic.  Various tasks that keep the mind sharp are part of the gardening process.   Another contributor to a keen mind is the simple act of being outdoors; it reduces stress, irritability and depression – all things contusive for a restful sleep.   Also fresh air improves focus and concentration.

A University of Arkansas study found that weight-bearing activities done during the gardening process increased bone density and reduced the risk of osteoporosis.  Digging in the dirt, lifting a watering can and pulling weeds help build motor skills.

A sense of purpose and accomplishment can be found by nurturing and caring for another living thing.  It is rewarding to see the fruits of your labor in the form of scrumptious fruits and vegetables or beautiful blossoms.

Maplewood Sauk City provides a snippet about Parkinson ’s Disease

Nearly one million Americans are affected by Parkinson’s disease which is a chronic and progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.

Dopamine is the chemical produced in our brains that plays a crucial role in controlling movement and coordination.  As Parkinson’s progresses, the amount of dopamine the brain produces declines, leading to the outward signs of the disease such as: tremors in the legs, arms, jaw and face; slow movement, stiffness in the trunk and limbs; and impaired balance and coordination – though symptoms vary from person to person.

Early signs for this slowly progressing disorder may be mild or go unnoticed.  Early symptoms of Parkinson’s include:  tremor or shaking, smaller than usual handwriting; loss of smell; sudden movements during sleep; trouble moving or walking; blank facial expression and dizziness or fainting.  Having one or more of these symptoms does not mean that you have Parkinson’s disease, but if you experience any of them, discuss the matter with your physician.

The cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown and there is not cure for the disorder, yet symptoms can be treated with medication, physical therapy or surgery.  Parkinson’s is found most often in middle-aged to older adults.

Go to  www.PDF.org  for more information.