HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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pollution or toxic fumes. The latter can damage the lungs when inhaled and make them vulnerable to infection. Habits such as smoking or alcoholism are risks as well. If your immune system is weakened, it is harder to fight off infection. This is true for people who have HIV/ AIDS or who have had an organ transplant. Recovering from major surgery or a serious injury where you are bedridden and/or have difficulty coughing can lead to pneumonia. Finally, people with debilitating illnesses such as COPD, asthma, heart disease, emphysema and diabetes, by virtue of being in a weakened state, may be at risk of the disease.


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PNEUMONIA CAN BE SERIOUS

Symptoms of pneumonia vary according to the cause but usually include malaise or feeling weak; coughing; green or yellow sputum; pain in the chest; confusion; fever and chills; and shortness of breath. The signs may differ in older persons; they may not be as specific. Often someone thinks she simply has a cold or flu until the pneumonia is far advanced. An older person may not have a fever or may simply be sleepy and lethargic. They may lose their appetite or they could suffer from dizziness and a fall, all because of an infection in the lungs.


Although pneumonia may be caused by numerous organisms, in the elderly it is usually the result of infection from the streptococcus bacteria or a virus. Viruses result in about 50 percent of pneumonia infections in the general population.


Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections. For a viral infection, occasionally anti- viral meds are used, but generally this type of infection is treated by rest, good nutrition and plenty of fluids.


People older than 65 years of age are most at risk of getting pneumonia. Other risk factors include substances in the environment, such as dust, chemicals, air

JEAN JEFFERS

Jean is an RN and a freelance writer. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health & Wellness magazines. Her Web site is at

www.normajean.naiwe.com

more articles by jean jeffers

Pneumonia is a serious disease, particularly for the aged and infirm. In the elderly population, pneumonia remains the single most common cause of death from an infectious disease. In 2010, pneumonia, combined with influenza, was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one out of 20 adults who get pneumonia dies from it.


According to the American Lung Association, pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs usually caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms. The inflammation results in an outpouring of fluid in the infected part of the lungs. Blood flow is diminished in the affected part of the lung or lungs, meaning oxygen levels in the bloodstream can decline. The complications resulting from pneumonia in the elderly can be life-threatening, from low blood pressure and kidney failure to bacteremia, an infection that spreads to the bloodstream.


Elderly adults may be more susceptible to pneumonia for several reasons: Seniors may already be suffering from comorbid conditions such as heart disease, meaning they don’t tolerate infection as well as younger people. Also, aging causes a decrease in the immune system response, so an elderly person’s defenses are weaker. Some virulent organisms can be worse in older people.