Five Key Components to Aging in Place – Healthy Living

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Sally Smith:  Welcome to Age to Age.  I’m Sally Smith.  Let’s talk.  Today, we have with us Paul Franklin who is the chairman of Aging in Place, an organization committed to helping people stay in their home as they grow old.  They provide many resources and advice on how to make that happen. 


In reading your literature, Paul, I noticed that Aging in Place kind of breaks down five pivotal areas.  We’re going to take them one by one and do a podcast on each of them.  But to cap them off, I’m reading, healthy living, livable homes, financial and legal, supportive relationships, and transportation.  And then you say, sometimes all you need is the right connection to make these things happen.  What do you mean by healthy living?


Paul Franklin:  Well, what we mean there is people, first of all, need to realize that they have quite a bit of responsibility for their own health.  And I think it’s important that people accept that and do what they can to make sure that they’re doing all the right things so that they can age in place successfully.  And obviously you can’t do that unless you, really, are healthy.  That’s the whole idea, to stay healthy as long as possible, and to stay independent and in control.  And, therefore, you need to be aware of what you’re putting into your body when you eat, and what it’s doing chemically.  It’s also important to exercise and to do the kinds of things that keep the body flexible and working like it should.  I think, in the past, a lot of people thought retirement, or old age, meant that you’re supposed to conserve your energy; you’re not supposed to move that much.


Sally Smith:  Just hit a golf ball every now and then.


Paul Franklin:  That’s right, that’s right.  And nothing could be further from the truth.  We know that our bodies are built to really move.  And if we don’t move, just look at people that are in the hospital for extended periods of time, or bedridden.  They have a very difficult time trying to get the muscles back into shape so that they can carry on their life’s work.


Sally Smith:  So when you say, healthy living, I see that you’re going along the same lines as a book that I read recently, which is called Younger Next Year.  It’s about how some of our systems do slow down so, actually, you have to be even more proactive in that regard.  Now, when you’re doing Aging in Place and talking to people about healthy living, do you have resources that have to do with nutrition?  Do you have certain recommendations or guidelines on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle?


Paul Franklin:  Right.  We do, and that’s a wonderful thing about it.  We actually have a directory for people that want to find out more, and actually consult with someone.  We have, for example, a doctor who calls on people in their homes.  He does strictly Medicare work.  He’s called Doc at the Door.  That’s the name of his company.  And, of course, he provides a lot of counseling to seniors about diet, nutrition and exercise.


Sally Smith:  And I suppose it’s pretty unique for each person.  I mean, you couldn’t, carte blanche, say, you should exercise one hour a week, or you should walk so far.


Paul Franklin:  Absolutely.  Some people, obviously, are in better shape than others, and the doctor is, by far, the best person to really assess the health of someone.  You want to make sure they don’t overdo it but, at the same time, it’s important that they do what they can.  So, he is great at showing people how to do it because he is, basically, a specialist in gerontology, of course.  We’re very thankful to have him, and he’s a wonderful resource.


Sally Smith:  That’s a terrific resource.  And, of course, coming to your own door is half the battle, as we all know.  I heard, recently, someone talking about the articles they had read about certain magical foods.  You know, blueberries are very high on people’s list, and fish oil, and there seems to be a new, wonderful, magical way to take vitamins around every corner.  Is this the sort of thing that the doctor would know about too?


Paul Franklin:  Oh yes. 


Sally Smith:  This is valid, and this isn’t?


Paul Franklin:  Right.  It’s very important to cover these latest fad foods and diets, and pills, and so forth, with the doctor because they’re going to know about these studies as well, especially someone who specializes in gerontology.  Another very important area is, certainly, balance, mobility, and dizziness.  The center here in

Charleston is one of the resources that we have for healthy living as well.  A lot of times people lose their balance.  I know if I get up in the middle of the night, I’m very disoriented and I have to really be careful.  And so you have to teach people, basically, what they need to do if they have to wake up in the middle of the night.  What’s a safe way to get to the bathroom?  It sounds very simple but, I mean, people sometimes forget, and they’re very mission-oriented when they get up in the middle of the night.  It’s important to think about a safe way to do these things.


Sally Smith:  Well, and of course, your whole mission and goal has a lot to do with thinking ahead and practicing prevention.  The time you fall on the way to the bathroom in the night, you’ve got to get over that, and that’s a big issue.  It’s so much easier just to step back.  And, of course, I think we all think, in some ways, that we’re still young.  I know that I think I’m a certain age, by year, but I’m actually just a little 16-year-old, and I can’t imagine that any of these things could happen to me.  But, of course, there are certain issues that do come along with old age.  I thinks it’s not about accepting being older, it’s just being smart about being older and say, I’m going to outfox this thing; I’m going to sit on the side of the bed for a minute or two until I get my equilibrium, then I’m going to get up.


Paul Franklin:  Right. 


Sally Smith:  There are probably a lot of pointers like that.


Paul Franklin:  That’s true.  And sometimes that balance issue has to do with inner ear.  So, we have, also, advanced hearing care as part of the resources.  For that, we Dr. Larkin, who helps people with those kinds of issues and, of course, hearing issues; does lots of hearing testing, and that sort of thing.


Sally Smith:  And, of course, hearing is so much more important than you think, sight, the same way, because it removes you from the world slightly.  If you can’t really hear what someone is saying, or you can’t really see, very well, who’s walking in your door, it removes you from the connectedness of life, which is one of the things we’re going to talk about in a minute.


Paul Franklin:  That’s exactly right.


Sally Smith:  Thank you so much, Paul, for talking with us today about healthy living and what that entails.  Thanks to all our listeners, too, for joining us.  We welcome your suggestions and comments.  This is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying good-bye and wishing you courage and joy on your journey.  We area all connected.


If you enjoy listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle.  It’s the story of how she personally responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with a parent with dementia.  Just click on Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home page.  All profits support research at the Center on Aging.  Thanks.

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