• June 05, 2010
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It All Starts With The Core

The core muscles are the large muscle groups of the back, abdomen, hips and pelvis. The core muscles stabilize us during movement and help us to handle the physical demands of daily life -- standing ,sitting, picking up children, carrying groceries or bending down to pet the dog. Peggy Brill, a physical therapist and author of “The Core Program,” says, "Both the neck and lower back are dependent on the core muscles to stabilize the spine so that all the vertebral segments align in a way that does not compress the nerves that pass through them. When nerves are compressed, they can't deliver full electrical impulses to the muscles. When that happens the muscles can't work as they should. Weakness and pain are the result." I always include core exercises as part of a weight-training work-out.

Here are some exercises to strengthen the core:

1) Lie on a physio ball( a large exercise ball) with your lower back supported (that is, touching the ball) and with your hands gently supporting your head. Keep your chin up so as not to strain the neck. Do a set of 5 to 15 sit-ups, while exhaling on the lift. If you’re able, repeat the exercise two more times.

2) Again. using the physioball, lie with your back arching over the ball until your hands almost touch the floor. You might want to have a partner help stablize the ball. This exercise is a back strengthener and helps stretch the opposing muscle group...the abdominals.

3) When you're ready to cool down, lie supine on the floor, bring both knees to the chest, hold for 30 seconds. Then drop your knees to one side, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Bring your knees back to the chest to realign your spine and then stretch out your legs. This exercise stretches out the lower back.

Always focus on tightening your abdominal muscles during each exercise.

  • June 21, 2010
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Baby Boomer Juggling Act: Today's Miami Herald (Father's Day, June 20)

Happy Father’s Day to all of you Dads. I was looking forward to having a quiet day celebrating Father’s Day with my kids and husband, and calling my father who lives in California. I will still have a family day complete with a barbecue, but the day started out with a lot of excitement. I woke up to today’s Miami Herald’s story by Ana Veciana-Suarez on the Baby Boomer juggling act, "Caring for Kids---and Parents", and was thrilled to see that she recognized Seniority Matters as an important and valuable resource. It looks likes everyone is talking about the same issues, and that we really do fulfill a great need. So thanks to Ana for writing this important story and including us among South Florida’s important resources. For those of you who have not seen the story, please click here to read it.

  • September 07, 2010
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Just Get Moving!

Why fitness now?  

Life expectancy has increased from 47 years of age in 1900 to 76 years in 1996. The number of people 65 years or older is predicted to increase to 69 million by 2030.

It has been proven that seniors who exercise regularly enjoy better overall health than those who don't and regular exercise is associated with reduced risk of disability and dependence.

Benefits of exercise include: 1) increased strength, endurance, balance and flexibility 2) lowering of resting blood pressure, decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers 3) and last, but very important, regular exercise causes a reduction in the number of falls in older people.

Fitness programs designed for older adults can be found in some gyms, fitness centers, churches, community centers or senior centers. You can hire a personal trainer who will come to your home, or you can also join a mall walking club if the South Florida heat is too much for you. Swimming and water workouts are wonderful ways to get get healthy without putting any stress on your back or joints. Perfect for our Florida climate.

Look for ways to burn calories throughout the day. Walk whenever you can, take the stairs instead of an elevator, walk three times around your yard and back or do sit-ups in front of TV. Try standing on one foot while brushing your teeth to improve your balance.

Don’t make it too complicated. Just get moving.

  • September 22, 2010
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Fear Of Falling

September 23 is National Fall Prevention Day.  Every year over 250,000 people fall, many requiring medical attention. I am going to pay special attention to it on the 23rd, and on other days as well.

I worry a lot about my father falling. Sometimes the most unnoticeable misstep results in him catapulting across the room. I have been there when it has occurred and it happens so quickly that it is hard to describe. Luckily, it has resulted only in some major bruises. He does not seem as concerned or fearful about it as I am.

Maybe he is on to something. A recent studydemonstrated that those who are afraid of falling are more likely to have subsequent falls compared to those who are fearless. So clearly my hysterical behavior doesn’t help. Nonetheless I believe he is one of the 30% of seniors who underestimate their own risk of falling. So I am going to calm down and reinforce fall prevention in his home.

There are several things that both my father and I can do to reduce the likelihood of him falling. Both exercise and getting up slowly after sitting or laying down will help him to maintain his balance. Installing grab bars in his shower will also help as well as wearing shoes while inside. 

From a more medical perspective it’s a good idea to look at the medications that he takes. Some may make him spacey or dizzy. And when he is alone I think it’s a good idea if he wears a personal alert device.

To learn more about falls prevention please visit www.stopfalls.org. To see a Home Fall Prevention checklist for older adults see the detailed information on the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control website

Do any of you have the same concerns about your yourself or your parents? 

  • September 26, 2010
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Talk About A Service Provider That Can Really Make Our Lives Easier...A Daily Money Manager

Identifying and enrolling providers for our users has been one of the most challenging yet gratifying parts of developing Seniority Matters. Everyday has been an education, and I now know about people and services that I didn't even know existed.  I can’t believe that I could have gone through life without knowing about them.  As an example (and there are many), I never knew what a Daily Money Manager was.   Sure I have heard of bookkeepers, but Daily Money Managers, or DMM’s as they are referred to, are much more.

A DMM can provide an array of services including paying your bills, keeping track of medical and other insurance papers,  and organizing your files and home office.  They can work with attorneys and CPA’s, and most important is that they adhere to a strict standard of practice and code of ethics. There is an American Association of Daily Money Managers. We are lucky to have three DMM’s in our directory, one in each Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. They are all very passionate and excited about what they do, as you can tell even from the names of their companies. So check out their in our directory: Minding your Business (Miami-Dade), Organize My Life (Broward), and Florida Seniors Bookkeeping Service (Palm Beach).

While they provide many services, they can work with you to make sure you get just the services you or your parents need. 

  • January 03, 2011
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Osteoporosis: Can We Prevent It?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and can break easily. Fractures usually occur in the wrist, hip and spine, but can occur in any part of the body.

When the vertebrae begin to break or collapse people lose height and/or develop a stooped posture. About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. Post-menopausal women are particularly vulnerable, but men get it, too.

Getting the proper medical treatment, enough calcium, Vitamin D, fruits and vegetables and regular exercise -- especially weight- bearing exercises like running or dancing and resistance -- are good for your bones.

Resistance exercises improve muscle mass and strengthen bones. Weight training with free weights and machines is the most familiar form of resistance training, but you can also use wrist weights, exercise bands and rubber tubing. Resistance training should be done about three times a week with at least a day of rest in between to allow the muscles to recover. When starting a resistance-training routine, you should have a certified personal trainer or physical therapist evaluate you, give you a routine and teach you proper form to avoid injury.

If you have osteoporosis, there are some exercises that you shouldn't do. These include bending from the waist (toe touches), sit-ups and twisting the spine to the point of pain. In both yoga and Pilates, many exercises can be modified to accommodate someone with osteoporosis.

The wesite for the Mayo Clinic,  explains the osteoporosis risk factors, both the ones you can change, and those you can’t.

Some risk factors you can't change are:

  • Getting older
  • Being a woman
  • Race (risk is greatest for Caucasian and Asian women)
  • Family history of osteoporsis
  • Body Size (risk is highest among those who are very thin or small frame)
  • Medical conditions and treatments that affect bone health.

Risk Factors you can change:

  • Low calcium intake....contributes to diminished bone density
  • Tobacco use (quit!)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption 

For more information about living with osteoporosis please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.

  • January 10, 2011
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Is Pilates Right For You?

This blog post was written by my daughter, Amber Yancey (photo left). She is a third-generation fitness instructor, an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer, a Pilates instructor, a choreographer and co-founder of the largest nonprofit dance company in Washington, D.C., Capitol Movement. (Can you tell I’m a little proud of her? Read more at the Capitol Movement Website  -- Sibyl Adams

Pilates is a method of total body conditioning that focuses on building core muscle strength to support posture and alignment and creating long, lean muscles in the torso and extremities. When practiced under the supervision of a certified instructor from a nationally or internationally recognized institution, Pilates can benefit any age group and is also beneficial for rehabilitating many physical limitations.

The classical Pilates method has evolved over time to offer benefits for the general population, not just for elite athletes and dancers. By strengthening the core muscles, focusing on posture and alignment, this form of exercise can improve and benefit conditions like scoliosis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolythesis, hip replacements, discectomies, rotator cuff injuries, broken femurs, and more.

For the active individual or athlete Pilates may also improve your golf or tennis game, and more. Private Pilates sessions can be expensive, but many insurance companies are now covering the cost of Pilates as rehabilitation when prescribed by a doctor.

Furthermore, Pilates apparatus classes may be practiced in partner sessions and small groups to lower the cost of the lesson. Many gyms and health clubs also offer Pilates mat classes on their regular group exercise schedules. But protect yourself if you’re exploring the world of Pilates. When you walk into a large group setting, you should be sure to introduce yourself to the instructor as a beginner. As you try the exercises, be sure to listen to your body. Pain is a sign that something is wrong -- so if you feel pain, stop what you are doing immediately and rest.

If you’re familiar with the techniques and want to try some simple stretches at home, here’s a easy way to start:

To achieve the proper Pilates "scoop" of the abdominals, lie on your back, slide the shoulders down towards you back pockets, keep the back of your ribs in contact with the floor and a neutral spine in your lower back (Neutral Spine=the ability to fit two fingers under your lower back without having to shift or move around to place them there). Take a breath in and then draw your navel to your spine, but do not arch or flatten your lower back. Practice this several times, keeping the abdomen pulled inward during both inhalation and exhalation of your breath.

To perform Tabletops, raise one leg at a time until both legs are bent with knees and hips to a 90 angle. Then lower your legs as close to the floor as you can without arching your back. If your toes can touch the floor while maintaining your abdominal seatbelt, that is great. Repeat for 4 to 8 repetitions.  If you experience any back pain, stop and bring your knees to your chest, then release.

For sit-ups, repeat the "scoop" (this is the key to proper abdominal control). Then place your hands gently behind the rounded part of your head (towards the top back of the head)  and perform 8 to 15 sit-ups.

Follow by bringing the knees to the chest and repeat another set.

  • February 11, 2011
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A Great And Easy Aerobic Exercise ---Swimming

In Florida, we don’t have to look far to find a good place to exercise. Most likely, there’s a pool in your backyard or around the corner.

So what are some of the benefits of swimming? The Centers for Disease Control says,"Swimming is the third most popular sports activity in the United States and is a good way to get regular aerobic activity. Just two-and-a-half hours per week of aerobic activity, such as swimming, biking or running, can reduce the risk of chronic illness. This can also lead to improved health for people with diabetes and heart disease. Swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people."

Other benefits of exercising in the water are:

  • You can exercise longer without increased joint or muscle pain.
  • For people with arthritis, it improves the range of motion of affected joints and decreases pain.
  • Swimming is low impact, so it doesn't strain your lower joints as intensely as running and walking.
  • It's good for your lungs.
  • Swimming is relaxing and can be a form of stress relief.
  • It promotes recovery post-back surgery.

Nicola V Hawkins, who is a nurse practioner, says, " Swimming incorporates your arms and legs, giving you a total body workout in an almost weightless environment. The water will support your body weight, so your back won't be carrying as much weight as you work out."

My 86-year-old mother swims and does water-based exercises daily in her condo pool. She likes to swim in the early evening when the water is warm and the sun isn't as bright. I like swimming laps in my health club pool once a week. I can really build up a sweat!

Most health clubs have pools. So do condo buildings, YMCA's and community centers. I am sure there's a pool near you!

  • February 13, 2011
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Indulge Your Cravings For Chocolate Guilt Free

Valentines Day or not, chocolate is most everyone’s favorite treat and lately it has attained the status, along with leafy greens and flax seed, as a health food. A piece of dark chocolate can even help you lose weight, according to David Wolfe, a noted natural foods expert. He says Cacao (the raw bean) is actually one of the great weight loss foods because it contains an abundance of minerals, such as magnesium, iron and chromium, that appear to shut off the appetite.

Debra Waterhouse, a registered dietician who 15 years ago wrote  Why Women Need Chocolate: Eat What You Crave to Look Good & Feel Great also thinks chocolate should be part of a woman’s diet, but for other reasons. As she explained in her book: "Women do need chocolate as well as other foods high in starch, sugar and fat to stabilize moods, control weight and revitalize well being. Food cravings are Mother Nature’s way of informing us that we need to eat a specific food in order to look and feel great."

Waterhouse conducted a survey with more than 600 respondents to explore food cravings in men and women. She found that 76% of women were more likely to crave chocolate (over crackers, ice cream and candy). She used that information to create a diet plan called the “ON Plan” (Optimal Nutrition for Mind and Body) that was based on these five principles:

  • Trust your female food cravings
  • Discover your female pleasure foods
  • Learn how to eat for maximum satisfaction
  • Distribute your food to maximize mood
  • Follow your optimal eating routine.

So even though her book and diet plan are more than a decade old, this might be just the diet plan you’ve been looking for. But don’t get carried away, she warned: ”Biological food cravings can be satisfied with surprisingly small amounts of foods. If you trust your food cravings, you can use them to balance your brain chemistry and moods…and you’ll be a happier person.”

So if you receive a box of chocolate today, enjoy it fully and without guilt. Just not the whole box in one sitting.

  • February 21, 2011
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Exercise As You Travel.....Literally

Excited about going on a trip or adventure? Traveling can be exhilarating, but getting to your destination often involves long periods of standing or sitting. All this inactivity can leave you achy or sore.

Here are some exercises you can do while standing in long lines at the airport:  

Calf raises: Stand with feet apart and come up onto balls of feet and slowly lower heels to the floor, keeping your weight centered. Repeat 8 to 15 times.

Alternating calf raises: Stand with feet apart and come up onto balls of feet. Lower one heel to the floor while keeping the other heel raised. Alternately press one heel up as the other heel comes down to the floor. Repeat 8 to 15 times.

Roll down: Bring your chin to the chest and slowly roll down, one vertebrae at a time, arms hanging towards the floor, with your spine flexed forward. Slightly bend the knees and roll up, stacking one vertebrae at a time. Repeat 2 to 3 times.

 If you absolutely must sit, and cannot get up and move around (during departures, arrivals and turbulence) there are some seated exercises you can do to help relieve aching muscles:

 Figure-four stretch: Place one ankle on top of the opposite knee. Hinge forward at hips, keeping the spine neutral. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. You will feel a stretch on the outside of your hip.

Neck stretch: With chin slightly tucked, let your right ear drop toward your right shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, letting the weight of the head stretch the left side of your neck. Release and repeat on the left side. Repeat as often as needed throughout the flight, since this exercise requires no extra room to accomplish.

Ankle circles: Sitting with feet apart, lift the right foot off the ground and circle the foot 15 times to the right and then 15 times to the left. Repeat with the left side.

Once you're free to move around, walk down the aisle to a bathroom, raise your arms over your head and drop them down to your sides and walk slowly back to your seat.

Do you have any survival tips for staying comfortable while travelling?

  • March 13, 2011
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We've Got Your Pets Covered

Did you know that more than half of all households have at least one pet? Chances are yours is one of them, which is why we have included two great providers in our directory that you can count on for a wide range of pet services.

If you live in the South DadeAventura or Coral Springs areas, you'll want to know about Pet Medical Centers. Their centers offer state-of-the-art boarding facilities, with full service pet hospital in the same facility. So if you are going away and need to board your pet, you can get all the medical and dental check-ups that you struggle to find the time for, all handled at one time.

Pet Medical Centers also offers a "new puppy" package of services to make pet ownership easy and joyful. The package includes vaccines, flea and heart worms medications, nutritional counseling and all the Health and Wellness appointments necessary for puppies to thrive.

 Maryl and Felice at Pet Sitters and More (photo left) provide every service imaginable to keep your pet and home safe when you're away-- even if it's just for a few hours or while you're at work.  In fact, each time they visit your pet (and that includes birds, cats and reptiles!) they'll go through a check list of 25 items including:

  • Sanitizing to reduce illness & disease.
  • Bringing in your mail and newspaper
  • Feeding your pet
  • Walking your pet 
  • Cleaning up accidents or "messes" that may occur
  • Turning on lights, making sure home is secure
  • Playtime with pets.
  • Administer medications when needed 
  • Taking the pet to veterinarian if necessary

If you live in Northern Miami-Dade  (Sunny Isles, Golden Beach or Aventura) or Broward Counties you're in their service area, so visit their website or click here to view their listing and contact information.

  • April 03, 2011
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Anyone Can Exercise...Even Those With Fibromyalgia

About two percent of the population in the United States has a condition known as fibromyalgia. It affects more women than men and the risk of getting it increases with age. People who have fibromyalgia feel pain in their muscles, tendons and ligaments. They have tender points, where, when pressure is applied, they feel additional pain. Sleep patterns are also disturbed, with a lack of deep sleep causing exhaustion throughout the day.

Many people with fibromyalgia are initially misdiagnosed. Once they get a true diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe drugs, physical therapy, exrcise, stress reduction or counseling.

One of my clients, a nurse with fibromyalgia, swears by enough sleep ( made possible by sleep medication) and exercise. She's also a weekend artist, which I'm sure, helps to reduce her stress level.

Another client with fibromyalgia got significant relief from a workout of light cardio, resistance training and stretching. If she has a flare-up in the middle of the night, she gets up and does a set of walking lunges to relieve the pain.

People with fibromyalgia should find a trainer who has some knowledge of this condition. The trainer should start the client out with a light exercise load -- say a warm-up of walking, followed by gentle stretching and can try some very light weight training. The session should end with stretching the client can tolerate. The intensity of such a workout may increase over time, with extra cardio alternating with the workout days.

A person with fibromyalgia knows where his or her "hot points" are and should communicate any painful exercises to the trainer. These exercises can be avoided, modified or worked through if tolerable.

Swimming, biking, qi gong, tai chi,massge and hot and cold packs are also helpful to many.

I have had great success with my clients with fibromyalgia, though I train each one differently according to their needs. With some, we will avoid too-painful exercises altogether, but still complete a full cardio, weight and stretching workout. With others I may do weights and stretching one day and on another day, if they're experiencing a flare-up, just do gentle yoga. The important thing is to be consistent in the amount of exercise you do.

If you have fibromyalgia there's no reason to give up exercise. In fact, that's the worst thing you could do!


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