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Serving Seniors and Caregivers

Don’t Be Afraid to Play

By Ann Bannes, Vice President, St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions

A merica’s seniors lost a legendary friend and advocate recently w h e n D r . R o b e r t B u t l e r , f o u n d i n g d i r e c t o r o f t h e N a t i o n a l Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, died at age 83. True to the aging philosophies he preached, Dr. Butler remained extremely active, working a busy schedule until three days before his death.

The man who coined the term ageism, Dr. Butler dedicated his life to changing attitudes about aging and reforming the treatment of the elderly through research, public policy and advocacy. He noted that the average person’s expected life span had inreased more in the 20th century than in any other point in history, bringing with it profound changes in everyday life, from the workplace to the political arena. He also helped establish the understanding that senility is not inevitable with aging.

Dr. Butler’s first book, Why Survive? Being Old in America, won a Pulitzer Prize. The book examined the often bleak conditions that the elderly face, then offered a number of suggestions on ways to improve. “Human beings need the freedom to live with change, to invent and reinvent themselves a number of times through their lives,” he wrote. Among the reforms he proposed were a national service corps that would enlist the elderly as community volunteers and a call for a national walking movement. He himself walked several miles each day.

Dr. Butler was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health and frequently gave testimony before Congress and the United Nations, advocating for more support for older adults. He helped start and led the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association and the International Longevity Center. President Bill Clinton named him chairman of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging.

His last book, The Longevity Prescription: The 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life, is filled with research findings and advice that are prescriptive for people of all ages. His advice for those who want to age with vitality is both simple and memorable: “Don’t be afraid to play.”

Dr. Butler’s advice is based on sound science and a keen understanding of longevity. Other nuggets from his work include:

  • Holding hands and hugging reduces blood pressure.

  • Fresh flowers reduce stress.

  • Laughter protects the heart.

  • It’s important to try new things, not just continue old routines. Learn a new word each day. Learn a new language.

  • People need to be with other people—volunteering, entertaining or even playing games.

  • Do squats every day to keep your thigh muscles strong and stave off frailty and the risk of falls.

  • Eating blueberries, peanuts and grape skins may help extend life.

  • Aerobic exercise three times a week can reduce eye pressure—a major risk for glaucoma.

  • A 30-minute nap a day may reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30 percent. Longer naps, though, can interfere with good sleep.

Thanks to Dr. Butler’s teachings and his example, more people now view aging in a positive light and are committed to making old age “a time of continuing vitality.”

Thank You Caregivers!

ovember is National Family Caregivers Month. On behalf of the thousands of older adults we serve, St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions says THANK YOU to all of the family and friends who selflessly dedicate their time, energy and love to make a senior’s life better. N

In proclaiming National Family Caregivers Month, President Barack Obama said, “We honor the millions of Americans who give endlessly of themselves to provide for the health and well-being of a beloved family member. Their efforts are vital to the quality of life of countless American seniors, bringing comfort and friendship to these treasured citizens. Through their countless hours of service to their families and communities, they are a shining example of our Nation's great capacity to care for each other.”

We agree and join the president in honoring these wonderful individuals and families who give endlessly of themselves to provide for the health and well-being of a beloved family member.


Connecting with Caregivers

By Amy Wheelehan, Marketing Director, St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions


aring for a loved one is one of the most challenging jobs anyone can have. Most caregivers are working, have other family to worry about, and rarely have time for themselves. While support services are often available through programs like St. Andrew’s Senior Solutions or the Caring Workplace, often caregivers say they are so busy that “I didn’t even know I could get help.”

To help reach out to caregivers, Senior Solutions recently launched a comprehensive social media project. Caregivers can now access information about eldercare programs and services through Senior Solutions’ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blog sites. In the coming weeks, they will be able to participate in online discussions about caregiving issues, ask questions of geriatric care managers, or find links to sign up for services. The hope is that social networking will help caregivers plan better and find help before they encounter crises.

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