America’s Social Senior Segregation

September 29, 2015

My wife and I live a nice 55 and older mobile home park.

We like it. It is quiet and peaceful even

though we live in the middle of the city.

Here in Hot Springs, Arkansas there many such parks and other senior communities some with assisted living. Hot Springs is considered to be a resort and retirement town.

Take care and be well.

Tommy Douglas 

Should older Americans live in places segregated from the young?

Stephen M Golant, University of Florida

Demographers frequently remind us that the United States is a rapidly aging country. From 2010 to 2040, we expect that the age-65-and-over population will more than double in size, from about 40 to 82 million. More than one in five residents will be in their later years. 

Reflecting our higher life expectancy, over 55% of this older group will be at least in their mid-70s.

While these numbers result in lively debates on issues such as social security or health care spending, they less often provoke discussion on where our aging population should live and why their residential choices matter.

But this growing share of older Americans will contribute to the proliferation of buildings, neighborhoods and even entire communities occupied predominantly by seniors. It may be difficult to find older and younger populations living side by side together in the same places.

Is this residential segregation by age a good or a bad thing?

As an environmental gerontologist and social geographer, I have long argued that it is easier, less costly, and more beneficial and enjoyable to grow old in some places than others. The happiness of our elders is at stake. 

In my recent book, Aging in the Right Place, I conclude that when older people live predominantly with others their own age, there are far more benefits than costs.


Why do seniors tend to live apart from other age groups?

My focus is on the 93% of Americans age 65 and older who live in ordinary homes and apartments, and not in highly age-segregated long-term care options, such as assisted living properties, board and care, continuing care retirement communities or nursing homes. They are predominantly homeowners (about 79%), and mostly occupy older single-family dwellings.

Older Americans don’t move as often as people in other age groups. Typically, only about 2% of older homeowners and 12% of older renters move annually. Strong residential inertia forces are in play. They are understandably reluctant to move from their familiar settings where they have strong emotional attachments and social ties. So they stay put. In the vernacular of academics, they opt to age in place.

Over time, these residential decisions result in what are referred to as “naturally occurring” age-homogeneous neighborhoods and communities. These residential enclaves of old are now found throughout our cities, suburbs and rural counties. 

In some locales with economies that have changed for the worse, these older concentrations are further explained by the wholesale exit of younger working populations looking for better job prospects elsewhere – leaving the senior population behind.


Even when older people decide to move, they often avoid locating near the young. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 allows certain housing providers to discriminate against families with children. Consequently, significant numbers of older people can move to these “age-qualified” places that purposely exclude younger residents. 

The best-known examples are those active adult communities offering golf, tennis and recreational activities catering to the hedonistic lifestyles of older Americans.

Others may opt to move to “age-targeted” subdivisions (many gated) and high-rise condominiums that developers predominantly market to aging consumers who prefer adult neighbors. Close to 25% of age-55-and-older households in the US occupy these types of planned residential settings.

Finally, another smaller group of relocating elders transition to low-rent senior apartment buildings made possible by various federally and state-funded housing programs. They move to seek relief from the intolerably high housing costs of their previous residences.

Is this a bad thing?

Those advocates who bemoan the inadequate social connections between our older and younger generations view these residential concentrations as landscapes of despair.

In their perhaps idyllic worlds, old and young generations should harmoniously live together in the same buildings and neighborhoods. Older people would care for the children and counsel the youth. 

The younger groups would feel safer, wiser and respectful of the old. The older group would feel fulfilled and useful in their roles of caregivers, confidants and volunteers. In question is whether these enriched social outcomes merely represent idealized visions of our pasts.

A less generous interpretation for why critics oppose these congregations of old is that they make the problems faced by an aging population more visible and thus harder to ignore.

Residents play shuffleboard at Limetree Park in Bonita Springs, Florida. Steve Nesius/Reuters

A better social life

But why should we expect older people to live among younger generations? Over the course of our lives, we typically gravitate to others who are at similar stages in life as ourselves. 

Consider summer camps, university dormitories, rental buildings geared to millennials or neighborhoods with lots of young families. Yet we seldom hear cries to break up and integrate these age-homogeneous residential enclaves.

In fact, studies show that when older people reside with others their age, they have more fulfilled and enjoyable lives. They do not feel stigmatized when they practice retirement-oriented lifestyles. 

Even the most introverted or socially inactive older adults feel less alone and isolated when surrounded with friendly, sympathetic, and helpful neighbors with shared lifestyles, experiences, and values – and yes, who offer them opportunities for intimacy and an active sex life.

Moreover, tomorrow’s technology is especially on the side of these elders. Because of online social media communications, older people can engage with younger people – as family members, friends, or as mentors – but without having to live next to what they sometimes feel are noisy babies, obnoxious adolescents, indifferent younger adults or insensitive career professionals.

Age-specific enclaves prolong independent living

Could living in these age-homogeneous places help older people avoid a nursing home stay?

Studies say yes – because here they have more opportunities to cope with their chronic health problems and impairments. Now their greater visibility as vulnerable consumers becomes a plus because both private businesses and government administrators can more easily identify and respond to their unmet needs.

These elder concentrations spawn a different mindset. The emphasis shifts from serving troubled individual consumers to serving vulnerable communities or “critical masses” of consumers.

Consider how many more clients home-care workers can assist when they are spared the traveling time and costs of reaching addresses spread over multiple suburbs or rural counties.

Or recognize how much easier it is for a building management or homeowners’ association to justify the purchasing of a van to serve the transportation needs of their older residents or to establish an on-site clinic to address their health needs.

Consider also the challenges confronted by older people seeking good information about where to get help and assistance. Even in our internet age, they still mostly rely on word of mouth communications from trusted individuals. It becomes more likely that these knowledgeable individuals will be living next to them.

sign-elderly-crossingThese enclaves of old have also been the catalyst for highly regarded resident-organized neighborhoods known as elder villages.

Their concerned and motivated older leaders hire staff and coordinate a pool of their older residents to serve as volunteers. For an annual membership fee, the predominantly middle-income occupants in these neighborhoods receive help with their grocery shopping, meal delivery, transportation and preventive health needs. 

Residents also benefit from knowing which providers and vendors (like workers performing home repair) are the most reliable, and they often receive discounted prices for their goods and services. They also enjoy organized educational and recreational events enabling them to enjoy the company of other residents. 

Today, about such 170 villages are open and 160 are in planning stages.

A question of preference

Ageist values and practices are indeed deplorable. However, we should not view the residential separation of the old from the young as necessarily harmful and discriminatory but rather as celebrating the preferences of older Americans and nurturing their ability to live happy, dignified, healthy and autonomous lives. 

Living with their age-peers helps these older occupants compensate for other downsides in their places of residence and in particular presents opportunities for both private and public sector solutions.

The Conversation
Stephen M Golant, Professor of Geography, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Breaking Bad - Habits

September 29, 2015
breaking-bad-habits-smoke-cigarette-Who does not have a bad habit?

It would be hard to find someone that you know that will not admit to having some type of unhealthy adverse habit. These habits can be related to your health, your relationship or to your business.

One of the hardest things about breaking a bad habit is getting enough motivation to actually take steps to break it. 

Some of the most well-known ways to break a habit include:
  • Quitting cold turkey
  • Setting a date to quit your habit
  • Replacing the bad habit with a good one
All of these methods can easily work for you, if you are truly ready to break your habit. 

Would you say that you currently have the desire to quit your habit? 

Or is it something that you keep putting off until next week?

We are all busy with our lives and this is why quitting cold turkey or setting a quitting date do not always work. The minute you tell yourself that you cannot have or do something, you end up thinking about it all day long. Small children are a fantastic example of this. When you tell them that they can’t have something, they drive you nuts asking for it.

So what can you do instead of your bad habit?


Your approach to quitting your bad habit needs to be a little different. Let’s say for example that you want to quit eating sugar. The minute you place this item on an ‘I can never have it’ list, you constantly crave it.

How about tackling your habit change this way.

Get up tomorrow morning and tell yourself that you are just going to get through one day without eating sugar. You will find it much easier to say no when offered something that contains sugar, because there is always tomorrow.

What you will discover is that when tomorrow comes you only have to get through one day without eating sugar. Again it will be much easier to manage and you will find that your motivation increases. Within a few days, you will not be craving the sugar as much and you will start automatically saying no when offered cake or cookies.

Now that’s not to say you can never eat a piece of cake again. 

Honestly who doesn’t want to have a piece of birthday or a slice of wedding cake when offered? 

All you are doing is not making sweets treats a huge part of your life. Instead, you can easily reserve these things as ‘delights’ for a special occasion.

Here is some steps for you to consider for breaking bad habits:

  1. Try and determine what it is that makes you perform your bad habit. Is it getting upset or frustrated with someone? Write down the reason and keep it somewhere that you can see it.
  2. If you are letting someone’s reaction to something force you into eating, switch the eating up with another action. Maybe go for a walk, have a cup of tea or coffee or call up a friend. Do not let your habit rule your emotions.
  3. Is your bad habit affecting your health, do you feel stiff and sore or know that you are putting on the pounds, but hate to admit it? Think about how you will feel if you continue in this way, are you ready to start feeling worse about yourself?

Breaking a bad habit is not going to be easy.

While you do need to be aware of your choices, you do not want this to become an obsession. Instead take one day at a time and get through those 12 or 14 hours at a time. 

I am sure you will agree that this seems more doable than using another method.

Plus if you do fall off the wagon, you have only ruined one day and can get back on track tomorrow.

Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas


Antibiotic Overuse May Lead To More Allergies

September 28, 2015
allergy-cold-flu-girl-watery eyes-blowing-noseAllergies are an experience; most of us could do without.

To my knowledge, I dodged the food allergy bullet. My wife however is seriously allergic to avocados, so no guacamole for her. She is mildly allergic to bananas and latex.
I can walk through poison ivy and even touch it without worry. My problem is dust; pollen and ragweed in other words, air.
Having sinus allergies doctors use to prescribe antibiotics frequently. Perhaps for immediate relief the price to pay is long term suffering and sneezing.
Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas

Antibiotic overuse might be why so many people have allergies

By Avery August, Cornell University

Scientists have warned for decades that the overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, making it harder to fight infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that drug resistant bacteria cause 23,000 deaths and two million illnesses each year.

But when we think of antibiotic overuse, we don’t generally think of allergies. Research is beginning to suggest that maybe we should.

Allergies are getting more and more common

In the last two to three decades, immunologists and allergists have noted a dramatic increase in the prevalence of allergies. 

The American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology reports that some 40%-50% of schoolchildren worldwide are sensitized to one or more allergens. 

The most common of these are skin allergies such as eczema (10%-17%), respiratory allergies such as asthma and rhinitis (~10%), and food allergies such as those to peanuts (~8%).

This isn’t just happening in the US. Other industrialized countries have seen increases as well.

This rise has mirrored the increased use of antibiotics, particularly in children for common viral infections such as colds and sore throats. 

Recent studies show that they may be connected.


Antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome

Why would antibiotics, which we use to fight harmful bacteria, wind up making someone more susceptible to an allergy? 

While antibiotics fight infections, they also reduce the normal bacteria in our gastrointestinal system, the so-called gut microbiome.

Because of the interplay between gut bacteria and the normal equilibrium of cells of the immune system, the gut microbiome plays an important role in the maturation of the immune response

When this interaction between bacteria and immune cells does not happen, the immune system responds inappropriately to innocuous substances such as food or components of dust. 

This can result in the development of potentially fatal allergies.

Exposure to the microbes at an early age is important for full maturation of our immune systems. Reducing those microbes may make us feel cleaner, but our immune systems may suffer.


Do more microbes means fewer allergies?

Research done in Europe has shown that children who grow up on farms have a wider diversity of microbes in their gut, and have up to 70% reduced prevalence of allergies and asthma compared to children who did not grow up on farms

This is because exposure to such a wide range of microbes allows our immune systems to undergo balanced maturation, thus providing protection against inappropriate immune responses.

In our attempts to prevent infections, we may be setting the stage for our children to developing life-threatening allergies and asthma.

For instance, a study from 2005 found that infants exposed to antibiotics in the first 4-6 months have a 1.3- to 5-fold higher risk of developing allergy. And infants with reduced bacterial diversity, which can occur with antibiotic use, have increased risk of developing eczema.

And it’s not the just the antibiotics kids take that can make a difference. 

It’s also the antibiotics their mothers take. The Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood Cohort, a major longitudinal study of infants born to asthmatic mothers in Denmark, reported that children whose mothers took antibiotics during pregnancy were almost twice as likely to develop asthma compared to children whose mothers did not take antibiotics during pregnancy.

Finally, in mice studies, offspring of mice treated with antibiotics were shown to have an increased likelihood of developing allergies and asthma.

More prescriptions for antibiotics might mean more allergies. Gary Cameron/Reuters

Why are antibiotics overused?

Physicians and patients know that overusing antibiotics can cause big problems. 

It seems that a relatively small number of physicians are driving over prescription of antibiotics. 

A recent study of physician prescribing practices reported that 10% of physicians prescribed antibiotics to 95% of their patients with upper respiratory tract infections.

Health care professionals should not only be concerned about the development of antibiotic resistance, but also the fact that we may be creating another health problem in our patients, and possibly in their children too.

Parents should think carefully about asking physicians for antibiotics in an attempt to treat their children’s common colds and sore throats (or their own), which are often caused by viral infections that don’t respond to them anyway.

And doctors should think twice about prescribing antibiotics to treat these illnesses, too.


As we develop new antibiotics, we need to address overuse

As resistant bacteria become a greater problem, we desperately need to develop new antibiotics. The development process for a new antibiotic takes a considerable amount of time (up to 10 years), and drug companies have previously neglected this area of drug development.

Congress has recognized that antibiotic overuse is a major problem and recently passed the 21st Century Cures bill. This bill includes provisions that would create payment incentives from Medicare for hospitals that use new antibiotics.

But this approach would have the perverse effect of increasing the use of any new antibiotics in our arsenal without regard for whether bacterial resistance has developed.

This would not only exacerbate the problem of resistance, but potentially lead to more people developing allergies.

Congress should consider more than just supporting increased development of new antibiotics, but also address the core problem of overuse.

This may stave off the further development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and reduce the trend of increasing development of allergies.

The Conversation
Avery August, Professor of Immunology and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


6 Explanations Why You Get Sick Often

September 28, 2015
a-woman-blowing-her-nose-sick-illnessSome people seem to be ill all the time, and pick up every bug that is going. In contrast, others always seem to healthy and very rarely do they get a cold.

For those who get sick a lot the impact on overall quality of life can be devastating. Lack of energy that comes with not feeling well can affect how well you perform at work and at home. 

It can also lead to mild depression as down time begins to take its toll.

The first thing you should do is see your doctor and get a full checkup to be sure that there is not something serious causing you to be ill more than the average person is.

Second, keep in mind that it is not simple luck that some are very healthy, while you seem to catch something every other month. 

There are some well-researched reasons as to why some people get ill much more often than others do.

1. Diet


There are so many sayings around about healthy eating, such as ‘you are what you eat’; this has never been truer. Your body needs a well-balanced, healthy diet that provides all the essential food groups and vitamins.

Without this, your body cannot function effectively and fight any infections away. Different people, and those of different ages, require a slightly different diet.

It is important to know what diet suits your body best, and try to stick to it. This will ensure your body is in fighting fit condition, so any small bug that comes your way can quickly and easily be fought off without it turning into a proper illness.
2. Sleep Deprivation


Quite simply, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will become ill. 

Sleep enables the body to rest and recover, and without this, it will be unable to function properly.

During sleep, the immune system produces proteins that fight inflammation and disease. 

When you are sick or stressed, your body needs even more of these proteins; without sleep, your body simply cannot make enough to fit the infection.

While sleep deprivation leads to increased illness like colds and flu, it has been shown to have much more harmful and long lasting effects. 

Conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes have all been linked to sleep deprivation.
3. Stress


We all experience stress in some form, and in small doses, it can be healthy. 

However, when we become too stressed for too long, our health is significantly affected. 

Research has repeatedly shown that chronic stress directly affects our immune system, weakening it and making us much more susceptible to illnesses.

Stress directly contributes to minor illnesses, but also much more serious conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. 

Too much stress is also linked to sleep deprivation – how many times have you not been able to sleep because you have too much on your mind that you worrying or stressing about? 

In short, too much stress is very bad for our health.
4. Nutrients and Vitamins


While all vitamins and nutrients are important, some are especially good at fighting off infection and illnesses. 

Magnesium in particular, helps us to manage stress, and react to situations. When we are stressed, unwell or sometimes even just cold, we are using up our stores of magnesium. 
Unless this is replaced, we will be running low and therefore more likely to get ill.

Similarly, vitamin D is essential for many basic functions, and it is much harder to get sufficient levels in the winter. 

Vitamin C is an essential component to the immune system, and without it, you will be much more likely to get ill. 

If you are not getting enough vitamins and other necessary nutrients through your daily diet, consider taking a supplement to ensure you are always topped up and able to fight any illness that comes your way.
5. Dehydration


Every part of our body depends on a sufficient amount of water to function correctly. Without enough water, vital organs and muscles will struggle. 

Each day we lose a large quantity of water through our bowels, sweating, and urinating. Imagine how dry and sore your throat would be without any moisture or water.

Dehydration happens when you are not replacing lost fluids adequately, and your body starts to struggle. 

It may not seem like a big problem at first, as the symptoms are similar to that of a mild cold or headache.

However, dehydration can become life threatening if left long enough.
6. Overwork


Are you a workaholic? 

Do you work much more than you rest or relax? 

Is work always your first and foremost priority? 

This can well contribute to being run down and when you are run down, you are more susceptible to illness.

Bottom Line

There is no magic to wellness; it really is all about self-care. 

It takes effort to maintain a high level of good health, but you are well worth it!

Take care and be well.
Tommy Douglas


9 Tips for Aging Well

September 26, 2015
(Family Features) Although you can’t stop time, the right type and amount of physical activity can help stave off many age-related health problems.

More than half (59 percent) of Americans expect to still be living at home independently at the age of 80, according to a recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association

However, the same study showed that at least half of the same population recognizes they will see a decline in strength and flexibility as they age.

Movement experts such as physical therapists can help aging individuals overcome pain, gain and maintain movement, and preserve independence – often helping to avoid the need for surgery or long-term use of prescription drugs.

These nine tips, provided by the experts at the American Physical Therapy Association, are keys to helping you age well:

Chronic pain doesn’t have to be the boss of you. 

Each year 116 million Americans experience chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions. 

Proper exercise, mobility, and pain management techniques can ease pain, improving your overall quality of life.

You can get better and stronger at any age. 

Research shows that an appropriate exercise program can improve your muscle strength and flexibility as you age. 

Progressive resistance training, where muscles are exercised against resistance that gets more difficult as strength improves, has been shown to help prevent frailty.

You may not need surgery or drugs for your low back pain. 

Low back pain is often over-treated with surgery and drugs despite a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that physical therapy can be an effective alternative with less risk.

You can lower your risk of diabetes with exercise. 

One in four Americans over the age of 60 has diabetes

Obesity and physical inactivity can put you at risk for this disease, but a regular, appropriate physical activity routine is one of the best ways to prevent and manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Exercise can help you avoid falls and keep your independence. 

More than half of adults over 65 report problems with movement, including walking 1/4 mile, stooping, and standing. 

Exercise can improve movement and balance and reduce your risk of falls.

Your bones want you to exercise. 

Osteoporosis, or weak bones, affects more than half of Americans over the age of 54. Exercises that keep you on your feet, like walking, jogging or dancing, and exercises using resistance such as weight lifting, can improve bone strength or reduce bone loss.

Your heart wants you to exercise. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. 

One of the top ways of preventing it and other cardiovascular diseases is exercise. 

Research shows that if you already have heart disease, appropriate exercise can improve your health.

Your brain wants you to exercise. 

People who are physically active, even later in life, are less likely to develop memory problems or Alzheimer disease, a condition which affects more than 40 percent of people over the age of 85. 

You do not have to live with bladder leakage. 

More than 13 million women and men in the United States have bladder leakage. A physical therapist can help you avoid spending years relying on pads or rushing to the bathroom.

To learn more about the role of physical activity as you age, or to find a physical therapist near you, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman exercising)

SOURCE:American Physical Therapy Association


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The main goal of this blog is to pass on useful Information and different viewpoints that real people can use for improving their health.

Sometimes, I write my own articles, sometimes a quest post and others e-zine content that I feel stresses a good point.

Remember everyone is different and a variety of approaches may need exploration before you find the correct weight loss plan for you.

Keep in mind I am a blogger not a Doctor, so get professional advice.

Take care and be well.