Battling the Winter Blues

4 Ways to Combat Cabin Fever This Winter

January 5,2018 | Lifestyle

As the holiday dust settles and winter is in full force, many of us begin to feel restless from being cooped up indoors. Cabin fever can impact your mood, leading to boredom, dissatisfaction at home and irritability. But combatting these feelings can be easier than you think. Here are a few activities to help you stay busy and keep cabin fever at bay:

Catch Up At a Movie

Invite a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while to the movies. A movie outing allows for the perfect amount of conversation for a catch up, but without all of the awkward pauses and formality of a full dinner. It also just makes for a great excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the latest release or award nominee in the full surround-sound theatres can offer. AARP members can save 25% on Regal Premiere Tickets purchased online, and then treat everyone to snacks with additional savings on a popcorn and soft drink combo!

Map Your Family Tree

With all the technology out there today to test your lineage, why not dig a little deeper and research your family history? Take a peek into what life was like for your early relatives by tracing your roots and share fun findings with family and friends! Ancestry makes it easy to get started. AARP members save an exclusive 30% off Ancestry’s World Explorer Membership, valid the first year.

Get a Head Start on Spring Cleaning

If you’re going to be stuck at home, make the most of it! Go through your closets, cupboards and pantries and do some de-cluttering. For clothes, if you haven’t worn it in the past 6 months, reconsider whether it belongs in your closet. Check the pantry and fridge to ensure you’re not keeping food around past its expiration date. Look for new ways to organize and increase functionality of your space. This will not only help you reset and keep things in their place, but it will give you a good idea of what you don’t need, and what you should add to your shopping list. Once you finish, treat yourself to a new year’s shopping trip. When you show your AARP card at any Tanger Outlets Shopper Services, you can receive a free Tanger Outlets Coupon Book and save a bundle!

Go South For the Winter

Cold have you chilled to the bone? Why not escape to warmth for a weekend? Book a cruise to somewhere warm and tropical, or rent a car and drive the southern states. With a multitude of warm destinations to visit, AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia makes a great resource for planning and learning about travel savin

Protecting Your Eyesight as you get older

5 Tips To Protect Your Eyesight As You Age

January 26,2018 | Health & Wellness

Many of life’s moments that matter – both big and small – we experience with our eyes. As we age, it’s important to take proactive steps to ensure that we protect our vision against common diseases of the older eye, like glaucoma, cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Your eye doctor is the best resource for vision and eye health advice, especially as it pertains to your specific needs, however there are a few things you can be mindful of at home. Here are five things to consider To when looking to protect protect your eyesight well into the future:, here are five things to consider:

 

  1. Know Your Family Tree. Are you at a higher risk for hereditary diseases that may affect your vision? A review of your family’s health history will help you know if you may need to take extra precautions when it comes to your vision. Relatives with diabetes or high blood pressure may mean that you need to take extra precautions when it comes to your vision.
  2. Keep Up On Your Check-Ups. For the roughly 232 million Americans that require vision correction, trips to the eye doctor may seem compulsory, but regular eye exams are necessary even if you have 20/20 vision. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms, and waiting until you recognize an issue could result in permanent vision loss. A comprehensive eye exam, which includes dilating your pupils, can determine your risk for major eye diseases, as well as ensure that your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses is up-to-date. With these exams, your eye doctor can monitor for gradual signs of degeneration, so there’s less risk of long-term damage.
  3. Protect Your Eyes From Sunlight. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory but their most important purpose is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When shopping for new shades (prescription or not), double-check that they are equipped to block both UV-A and UV-B rays. This may help reduce your risk of cataracts, pinguecula and other eye problems.
  4. Give Your Eyes A Rest. Many of us depend on computer and smartphone screens each and every day. Spending a lot of time in front of these screens can cause your eyes to get fatigued. If possible, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This prevents eyestrain and gives your eyes the break they deserve.
  5. Eat Your Veggies. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight is good for your entire body – including your eyes. Existing research shows that antioxidants are beneficial for your vision. Antioxidants can be found in foods like dark leafy greens like spinach or kale. These foods can also help to prevent obesity-related diseases, like diabetes, or other systematic conditions that lead to vision loss, like glaucoma.

While there’s no way to completely safeguard your vision throughout your lifetime, these proactive steps can help to decrease your risk of developing a preventable vision health problem. Keep in mind that these tips are suggestions, not guarantees, and are not intended to replace the guidance of a medical professional or physician.

 

Whether you’re interested in learning more about vision health, or you’re looking for vision benefits and discounts, AARP Member Advantages can introduce you to solutions you can trust. Visit the AARP Member Advantages website to learn about AARP® MyVision Care provided through EyeMed, to help maintain your family’s vision health, or check out AARP® Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed. Visit online to learn about exclusive vision savings for members at some of your favorite retailers.

Healthy Habits for a Healthy Heart

The 7 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Heart

These mistakes put your ticker in danger. It’s time to take aim against them

Heart Health

DAN SAELINGER/TRUNK ARCHIVE

Smoking, overeating and drinking are among the seven deadly sins for your heart.

It’s easy to spot a heart-health fanatic. She’s the one jogging down the side of the road, wearing tight pants and a heart monitor, then slipping into House of Kale for a superfood infusion. But you don’t need to be the neighborhood greyhound or a health food zealot to dramatically slash your risk of heart attack and stroke. You just need to stop making a few common blunders that elevate your risk of heart disease, says Clyde W. Yancy, chief of cardiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. The sooner you make a change, the faster you can reverse existing damage or reduce your risk.

That’s why AARP and the American Heart Association (AHA) are working together to give you simple fixes you can do today to start lowering your risk — dramatically. During February — aka American Heart Month — and all year round, avoid committing these blunders. You’ll set yourself, and your heart, on a healthy new path.

1. You sneak a smoke

Heavy smokers know they should quit. So should occasional smokers. But you might say, “I only bum a smoke socially” or “Just once in a while, I have a cigar on the golf course” or “I switched to vaping. It’s so much cleaner and healthier.”

Wrong answers, one and all. “Cigarettes, cigars, vaping — all of them have the same degree of risk” for your heart, Yancy says. Nicotine has been shown to tighten coronary arteries; the effect is virtually immediate, he notes. “And there is no ‘small dose’ of nicotine,” he adds. “There is no threshold below which you’re ‘OK’ with smoking. That doesn’t exist.”

If you stop smoking right now and you don’t already have coronary artery disease, within two years you can reduce your heart attack risk to what it would have been if you had never smoked.

2. You skip your walk

Muscle loss as you age is a serious problem, and your heart is the most important muscle of all, says sports medicine physician Jordan D. Metzl, author of The Exercise Cure.

The AHA recommends 150 minutes a week of exercise, or 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. A 2017 study showed that people with stable coronary heart disease who increased their habitual physical activity reduced their mortality rate. The greatest benefits were seen in the most sedentary people who finally started moving regularly.

“This can be so simple,” Metzl says. “Some people hate the word ‘exercise.’ That’s fine. Just move. Get up and get your heart pumping. It won’t care if you’re at the gym or not.” A large-scale study last year confirmed that any physical activity that gets you breathing hard, whether it’s for recreation or not, delivers the same benefits.

You snarf an extra cookie

GETTY IMAGES

Avoid weight creep to protect the health of your heart.

3. You snarf an extra cookie

One of the biggest health issues, if you’re over 50, is weight creep — gaining a pound or two every year until you tip over into obesity. Science has found that meaningful weight loss comes mostly from better eating patterns, rather than from, say, more exercise.

“You shouldn’t expect to lose weight from exercise alone,” Metzl points out. “You can erase 500 calories burned from exercise in a few minutes of eating.” So the key is to eat the right foods. And that leads us to the next common blunder.

4. You eat dinner out of a box

Foods that come in boxes and bags are more likely to make you fat and sick than foods you cook yourself. An animal study in the journal Natureshowed that emulsifiers in processed foods can trigger obesity and metabolic syndrome.

“An overall healthy eating pattern emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and nontropical vegetable oils,” says registered dietitian Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

5. You shun your veggies

A lot of foods seem healthy but are low in nutritional value. Some culprits: granola bars and smoothies loaded with added sugars, Johnson notes.

Try to eat a serving of fruits and vegetables with every meal (yes, including breakfast!). Fry some thinly sliced brussels sprouts with your eggs, have a healthy salad or vegetable soup for lunch, and make sure there’s a side of broccoli with your salmon. For snacks, stir some fresh berries into a cup of plain yogurt (instead of eating that sugary “fruit” on the bottom), or scoop hummus with some carrots and celery, rather than processed chips. For natural blood pressure control, Johnson recommends potassium-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, beans and yogurt.

6. You lose your cool

Occasional stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But chronic stress can put your health at risk. One result: elevated blood pressure. Plus, according to a 2017 study of more than 2,500 people age 54 and older, chronic stress is associated with obesity.

Antistress techniques abound: Exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi, enjoying nature and even creative hobbies can all help dial down your stress reaction. But one key to understanding stress is that, in the end, it’s how you react to it that makes all the difference. From that point of view, a big part of the remedy is just to ask, “Why am I so stressed about this?”

7. You overdrink

“There are substantial data that say that a modest amount of alcohol daily, or weekly, is reasonable and might be protective of your heart,” Yancy says. “But how do we measure protective benefits on an individual basis? And here’s the really hard part: Are people disciplined enough to keep it modest?”

“Modest” shakes out to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. If you can do that, you’re probably OK. But if you can’t? The evidence suggests that no alcohol at all is better for your heart than too much.

Bonus Blunder: You watch Kimmel 

There’s one thing that makes all of the previous seven blunders more likely: not going to sleep early enough. A study of nearly 440,000 adults over 40 found that those who went to bed later were more likely to smoke, remain sedentary and skip fruits and vegetables than those who got extra shut-eye by hitting the hay early. “Good sleep is the foundation of health,” Metzl says. “When you wake up feeling good, all the healthy choices become more attractive. You feel like eating well, you feel like working out. Sleep just makes everything easier.”