Enriching Lives As We Age

Archive for the ‘Little House’ Category

Aging in America, Through Immigrant Eyes

Monday, August 17th, 2015

by Chris Kenrick , Palo Alto Online
Monday, August 10, 2015.

In this book on aging, Stanford geriatrician, and his biologist wife, share observations that Americans can learn from more “traditional societies” around the world when it comes to the treatment of older people, says Mehrdad Ayati, a Stanford University geriatrician, who grew up in Iran.

Arriving in the United States with a newcomer’s eyes a decade ago, Ayati was struck by how, in contrast to his homeland, Americans appeared to view aging with fear and shame.

“This is a very youth-oriented, anti-aging society,” he said. “That’s why a lot of older people won’t ask for help, won’t walk with a walker or a cane or get a hearing aid.   “In traditional societies, this is not the case. Aging is always a sign of honor, and the oldest person in a family gets a lot of respect and is considered very sage their words carry a lot of substance. A young person would never get the message that ‘When I get older I’m going to be useless.’”

Negative cultural attitudes toward aging could even explain the loneliness and isolation leading to cognitive impairment that he observes in some of his geriatric patients, Ayati suggests.   “In traditional society, the oldest person is still at the center of the family and society,” he said. “The problem I see here is that when you retire in modern society, you retire to the solitude of your home and, if your partner passes away, you’re just by yourself. And loneliness is one of the major causes of cognitive impairment.”

The importance of social engagement for older people is a recurring theme in the book “Paths to Healthy Aging,” which Ayati recently co-authored with his wife, physiologist and molecular biologist Arezou (Hope) Azarani.   “When people ask me what’s the best climate for elderly people, I say, ‘The best climate is to be surrounded by people who love you and support you,’” he said.

Ayati and Azarani created “Paths to Healthy Aging” in the form of a workbook, each chapter beginning with a list of “questions to ask yourself” and ending with a “take-home message” and an “action plan.” Chapters cover nutrition, mental health, frailty and overmedication.

It’s not unusual for an older person to be taking as many as five to eight medications a day for conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as diseases like diabetes, arthritis or congestive heart failure, Ayati said. Many also take over-the-counter supplements. At the same time, older people are more prone to the side effects of adverse drug interactions.

He cites the example of a patient who suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage following a fall Ayati believes was caused by overmedication a prescription for a cholinesterase inhibitor to treat mild short-term memory loss combined with strong sleeping pills that were added after the patient complained that the cholinesterase inhibitor was causing him to have vivid dreams. When stronger sleeping pills were added, the vivid dreams became delusional-like thoughts, nighttime anxiety and nightmares.

Ayati advises patients to keep an up-to-date list of all illnesses and medications, including dosages, and share them with all physicians and pharmacists; and also to question physicians about any newly prescribed medication and its possible interaction with other drugs.   “Take only what (medications) you truly need,” he said. “Any therapeutic benefit can be outweighed by the potential for drug cascade syndrome (when an undesirable side effect is misinterpreted as a medical condition and results in a new prescription) and other harmful interaction effects.”

Ayati is skeptical of over-the-counter medications, supplements and herbal remedies.   “Supplements can’t replace proper nutrition and should not be taken unless a blood test analysis ordered by your physician justifies prescribing them,” he said.   Most people should be able to get adequate vitamins, including vitamin D and calcium, from food rather than supplements, he said.

Geriatricians are trained to understand the physiology of aging and the medical complexity of the aging process, he said.   “We’re trained to be a good listener, and also to try to find the best way not to make a case more complicated,” Ayati said.

He embarked on the book when he realized the 20-minute office visit was too short to cover everything he wanted to communicate to patients. “They leave my office and they get bombarded by contradictory claims, marketing campaigns and misinformation” about nutrition, vitamins, supplements and brain games, he said. “The way we wrote the book is very simple; we tried not to put any complexity in it so that any person with any level of education can get the message.”

For exercise, he recommends “strenuous” strength training with weights and resistance bands, pushups, pullups and situps at least twice a week, as well as balance training, such a walking backward or sideways or Tai Chi at least three times a week. On diet, he advises people to eat “nutritious foods in small portions more frequently and in good company.”

But Ayati returns, repeatedly, to the value of social interaction for healthy aging.   “You can have the best cheese, the best wine, the best Mediterranean diet and the best olive oil, but if you’re in the solitude of your apartment looking at the window it’s not as beneficial as eating with others,” he said.

He said he frequently sees depression and memory loss among his immigrant patients who have been brought here by their children and spend their days caring for grandchildren.

“Their quality of life is actually worse here because they left behind the social network of their home country,” Ayati said. “You need to have interactions with people of your age and cultural background.”

But “aging can actually be a time of growth and development” for people who keep up friendships and have a positive attitude, he said.

“One of the book reviewers got back to me and said that after reading the book she called her husband because she wanted to ask him, ‘How many friends are we going to have when we retire?’”

Contributing writer Chris Kenrick | ckenrick@paweekly.com.

Volunteering – It’s What We Do!

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Looking for a way to give back to the community? Peninsula Volunteers is always looking to provide those opportunities. Check out our current volunteer openings below at Little House:

  • Community Services Desk – Provide information and referrals about issues such as housing, food, transportation and other social services over the phone or in person.
  • Front Desk Receptionist – Great and interact with members and guests, answer questions regarding classes and activities, and help maintain the Little House image.
  • Lunch CashierRun the cash register during lunch hours; ring up sales, handle money and tally the daily receipts.

To learn more about these positions call (650)322-0129 or email volunteer@peninsulavolunteer.org.

For a full list a volunteer opportunities visit http://www.penvol.org/volunteer/

 

 

Living Healthy at Little House

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Get the tools to live a healthy life! This 7 week workshop will offer practical techniques and support for feeling betting and making the best choices for our health and well-being.

Weekly sessions will address:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Exercise
  • Stress and Pain Management
  • Memory
  • Communications
  • And more!

Classes will be held on Mondays, February 9 to March 30, from 10:30am - Noon, at Little House Activity Center.

No class on February 16.

For more information call (650)32-2025 ext. 222

Quarterly Newsletters Coming Soon!

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Been wondering where our Little House newsletter has been the past few months? In case you missed our memo, the monthly newsletter has been switched to a quarterly publication. So don’t fret! Your names are still on our list and the new and improved issue will begin in October. Be on the look out for your copy within the upcoming weeks!

To stay up to date in the mean time, visit our website, call us at (650)326-2025 or sign up for our monthly email blasts- sign up is located in the bottom right hand corner of our Little House homepage.

Fall Assessments and Flu Shots

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Mark your calendars and join us next week at Little House for a few events that are sure to boost your quality of life. Tuesday, September 9 features the San Mateo Fall Prevention Task Force who will be conducting assessments to analyze your risk of falling. The assessment will include a brief evaluation and a counseling session to review your results and discuss ways to reduce any identified risk. The event will take place from 11:30am – 1:30pm and is free!

Friday, September 12 we’ll face the flu season head on with flu shots offered by Sutter Care at Home. Flu shots will be given from 9:30am – 11:00pm. See below for pricing details:

Flu Shot: $25

Pneumonia Shot: $70

Sutter Care will be able to bill Medicare for a flu shot ONLY for a senior who:

1.  Does not belong to an HMO or Medicare Advantage Plan such as Kaiser or Secure Horizons or Health Plan of San Mateo

2.  Brings their Medicare Card

3.  Medicare card has to say PART-B which is the medical part that pays for the flu shot. Any letters at the end of the Medicare number have nothing to do with Part B. (Often there is an A or B)

 

Woodworking At Its Finest

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Every week Little House offers bakery and fruit distribution to its members in conjunction with the Menlo Park Farmer’s Market. This week’s food supply was extra sweet as it was displayed on our new stand, hand crafted in our Woodshop Class. Peninsula Volunteers would like to thank our hard working members who graciously give their time and efforts to help make our facilities a brighter place!

Tai Chi at Little House

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

It’s clear that the benefits of exercise for older adults are endless. That’s why Little House has decided to add a new class to its health and wellness list. Starting this September, Tai Chi will be offered to anyone who would like to improve the mind and body, balance, flexibility, and awareness, all through a low-intensity form of exercise. Classes will be held every Thursday from 7pm – 8pm, beginning September 11th. For more information regarding this exciting new opportunity, visit http://www.penvol.org/littlehouse/relax-and-rejuvenate.cfm/#taichi.

 

Free Community Forum at Little House

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Mark your calendars for an important Community Forum discussing the benefits of Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service. When you experience a fall, medical issue or other emergency, every second counts. If you are alone, delayed medical care can jeopardize your recovery and your independence! The Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service provides simple, fast access to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Lifeline, the number one medical alert service is trusted by thousands of hospitals, recommended by over 65,000 healthcare professionals, and has helped provide more than 6 million people with the peace of mind and confidence to help maintain independent living at home.

Join us at Little House on Thursday, July 17th from 9am – 10am to learn more about this important national service at our FREE forum! We hope to see you there!

 

Fourth of July Celebration

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Save the date for our 4th of July celebration!

Get your holiday weekend started early on Wednesday, July 2nd by celebrating with our family at Little House! Lunch is only $7 and includes free live entertainment!

  • Doors open at 11:30am
  • Lunch: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
  • Entertainment by St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band, authentic New Orleans Traditional Jazz: 11:45am – 1:15pm
  • Menu: Hotdogs, hamburgers, mac salad, beans, & watermelon

For more information visit http://www.penvol.org/littlehouse

Celebrate Father’s Day With Art

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Trying to find that perfect gift for the father figure in your life? Nothing ever seems to beat the heart felt warmth that comes with giving a gift you made with your own hands. Stop by Little House this week and make your dad a gift in one our many art classes! Sculpt a bowl for him in the ceramics studio, build him something special in our woodshop, or paint a masterpiece in watercolor. You can even carve into some precious rocks with our lapidary class. Better yet, bring him along and give one of the most valuable gifts you can provide – quality time together. What ever your art specialty may be or whatever his likes are, Peninsula Volunteers is here to provide that special outlet for you and your father!

Visit http://www.penvol.org/littlehouse/art-classes.cfm for more information on Little House art classes.