Pulse: 65-Plus

Avoiding falls, an adult day center accenting Latino culture, and the age-happiness connection.

Center Offers Help with a Latin Twist

Walk through the brightly colored archways of the United Community Center’s Adult Day Center, and you’ll feel transported to a land far away from Milwaukee. Latino music and south-of-the-border smells fill the air; a few ancianos play dominoes in one room, and a group art project is in its early stages next door.

Since 2007, the $4 million facility has provided a gathering place for Latinos over 60 who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, usually stroke survivors or people with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. More than 100,000 Wisconsinites have Alzheimer’s, with Latinos developing the disease 50 percent more often than their white counterparts.

Photo by Jessi Paetzke.
Photo by Jessi Paetzke.

Alzheimer’s is irreversible, but being socially and cognitively immersed in day-to-day life can slow its progress.
To encourage engagement and to help about 70 daily attendees feel at home, the center emphasizes Latino culture in its programming. “Everything is in Spanish: Music is Spanish, staff is Spanish, the food is Spanish,” says Health Research Program Director Al Castro. “They’re not isolated … so we see them happier.”

Above all else, the center provides a place where people are fed, cared for and kept safe – much better than sitting at home in front of the TV. – Adam Rogan

Bring on the Joy

Does happiness grow with age?

Though physical health and cognitive sharpness can decline, mental health may improve, a study indicates.

The study* is based on a survey of 1,546 people ages 21 to 100 and found young adults had the poorest mental health; the oldest had the best.
– Tom Tolan

*Source: Journal of Clinical Psychology, reported in Time

5 Tips for Avoiding Falls

They’re the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among people 65 years and older. Jane Mahoney, professor of medicine and geriatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, offers these tips for avoiding falls:

Pay attention to your environment, and avoid distractions or multi-tasking.

Be mindful of medications, especially ones causing drowsiness or dizziness. Discuss dosage with your doctor.

Engage in physical activity to improve your balance, anything from golf to dancing to tai chi.

If you have a vision impairment in one or both eyes, schedule an eye exam, as that that can be a risk factor.

Increase your intake of Vitamin D. A daily dose of 800 to 1,000 units is recommended for older adults.

– Tom Conroy

Online Fitness

An exercise program attuned to your individual fitness and abilities can improve your physical, emotional and mental health. But how do you motivate yourself to choose a program and stick to it? The National Institute on Aging has an answer: a free website tailored to seniors, go4life.nia.nih.gov. On Go4Life, you can plan an exercise program and set fitness goals. There are also tips on healthy eating; exercise and diabetes; and how to exercise when you have chronic pain.

‘Pulse: 65-Plus’ appears in Milwaukee Health, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the issue on newsstands beginning Monday, October 31, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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