Dutchess County Office for the Aging’s AGING NEWS
· Time to Downsize?
· Vitamin D Deficiency
· Poughkeepsie High School Music Performance (3/18)
· March Events at the Fountains at Millbrook
· Spring Spotlight on Seniors Newsletter: www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/Departments/Aging/sosspring2015.pdf
Mary Kaye Dolan-Anderson, Director
Dutchess County Office for the Aging
TIME TO DOWNSIZE
Downsizing, the difficult process of letting go of long-term possessions is hard at any age, but especially daunting for older adults. The thought of sorting through a house full of memories to decide what to keep and what to discard can be so overwhelming, many people will simply put it off until a sudden crisis forces them to take action. Others may never take the first step, leaving a lifetime of memorabilia for family and friends to sort through after they pass.
For elders who grew up during the depression, throwing anything away can be difficult; always retaining the feeling they may need it someday. Depression (the state of mind) can also be a contributing factor to the desire to hold onto what others might consider “useless” items. The feeling of loss as they let precious items go builds their anxiety to such an extreme, they avoid it at all costs. In extreme cases, this can lead to hoarding, an illness closely associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety. In these cases, counseling with a mental health professional should be the first step.
Local Certified Professional Organizer Colleen Ashe of Ashe Organizing Solutions has a number of tips for those who find the idea of downsizing daunting. “Start the de-cluttering processes in stages by focusing on what is no longer needed or wanted, especially in the spaces you use regularly” she suggests. “Take a picture or make a scrapbook of items being held onto for the memories associated with them. I have also found it is easier for people to part with their items when they know someone else will put them to good use. It may take several passes through the items (on different days) to make real headway.”
Not-for-profit organizations like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, the Dutchess County SPCA (who take items like blankets, towels, etc.), and ReStore Habitat for Humanity will gladly accept most donations. Local libraries take used books, CDs and DVDs. It is always best to call ahead to find out about donation procedures before heading out with a carful of items.
If you’re a family member or friend who is trying to assist an older adult jettison junk, the key word is patience. Trying to leave a place that has been their home for decades to move into something smaller and unfamiliar is emotionally taxing, even more so if it is because of illness or financial hard times.
Ashe says “I am always amazed at how much stuff in a senior’s apartment actually belongs to the adult children. Give a specific date to anyone who has items in your home but no longer lives there to come and get the items by. After the date has passed, donate the items to a charity or recycle as appropriate. Also, pass along those family treasures now to those who you think will want them. Don’t wait for someday.”
Once you’ve purged all of the unnecessary items from your home, make it a habit to go through your stuff on a regular basis keeping only the things you need, use and love.
March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to look at a number of health problems attributed to a deficiency of vitamin D. Although people may assume that good nutrition will satisfy all their body’s vitamin D needs, the main source of vitamin D is actually natural sunlight. Many older adults may struggle to receive even the minimum required amount of 15 minutes of direct sunlight per day, especially at this time of year when most seniors are staying warm indoors.
For the elderly who rely on their diet to obtain vitamin D, poor food choices and inefficient intestinal absorption can add up to low levels of the vitamin. Researchers are learning more every day about the many processes in our body that require vitamin D. It’s not just for bone health anymore.
One initial sign of vitamin D deficiency is a lack of energy. Feeling tired all of the time, stiff joints and heaviness or pain in the legs could point to a deficiency. In aging adults, a weakening of the muscles and reduced skin thickness are also common complaints.
Researchers have found vitamin D also plays a role in regulating body weight. It controls the levels of a hormone called leptin which signals our brain when we are full and can stop eating. Without sufficient levels of vitamin D, the likelihood of overeating and therefore gaining weight is much greater. It is also believed that vitamin D deficiency can play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Once the sun has created vitamin D on sun-exposed skin, it is absorbed by the body and transformed into a hormone that helps assimilate calcium, keeping bones, muscles and teeth in good condition. For those suffering from osteoporosis, it doesn’t matter how much calcium is ingested, the body cannot use it without vitamin D.
Recent research has focused on the link between vitamin D, depression and dementia. It is known that vitamin D is responsible for activating the release of mood altering brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Because many of the symptoms of depression are similar to those of low levels of vitamin D, and a bout of depression can potentially triple a person’s risk for developing dementia, much research is being focused in this area.
A study published in the journal Neurology found older persons with a vitamin D deficiency double their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The lower their vitamin D level, the higher their risk. The researchers from the University of Exeter who performed the preliminary study caution that further work must still be done to determine if increasing vitamin D levels can delay or prevent the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In the meantime, talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Natural sunlight in moderation is best, but the RDA recommends a supplement of 600 IU daily for adults under age 70, and 800 IU for those over age 70.
“March Music Interlude”
Poughkeepsie High School flute and string ensembles, and saxophone quartet, performing music from the Baroque to modern.
110 S. Grand Ave., Poughkeepsie, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Free (voluntary donation gratefully accepted); program and lunch afterwards ($5/person).
Please call 845-471-0430 for more info, lunch reservations, and last-minute schedule changes.
The public is invited to enjoy the following educational and cultural offerings at The Fountains at Millbrook, 79 Flint Road. The events listed are free and open to the public with advance reservations to 845-905-8000.
Wesley and Barbara Gottlock will present Lost Amusement Parks of the Hudson Valley on Wednesday, March 18th at 2:00 p.m.
Professional organizer Ellen Kutner will give expert tips for de-cluttering and starting fresh for the spring in Simplify Your Life on March 25th at 2:00 p.m.
Raj Bhimani and Guests from New York City will provide an afternoon of Piano, Flute and Clarinet on Sunday, March 29th at 3:00 pm. Classical Pianist Raj Bhimani’s concerts are “virtuosic, heartfelt and eloquent,” writes New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman. Time Out NY noted him for being a “gifted and highly expressive pianist.” Mr. Bhimani performs regularly across North America, Europe, India, and now in Millbrook. Reception to follow.
Penny Musco will perform “Steal Away,” a one-woman show she wrote as an artist in residence at Homestead National Monument of America, on Tuesday, March 31st at 2:00 p.m. Set in 1880, the play tells the story of Priscilla, a white woman who leaves the East to homestead in the Plains with her husband and children. There she crosses paths with Abigail and her family, former slaves who fled the South after Reconstruction ended. The narrative weaves together historical accounts of those who sought free land by taking advantage of The Homestead Act, and the significant but nearly forgotten movement of an estimated 20,000-40,000 African Americans who headed north when the last of the federal troops withdrew from their southern states. These homesteaders called themselves Exodusters, likening their flight to the Biblical exodus of Moses and his fellow slaves out of Egypt. The show’s title comes from the Negro spiritual of the same name. Classic Southern Foods Reception to follow.