Category Archives: KnovaSolutions Newsletters

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


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What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

Aging is a gradual, natural process of change. It becomes more apparent in early middle age as certain body functions start to decline. Besides wrinkles and gray hair, the heart and arteries, bones and muscles, digestive system, urinary tract, memory and thinking, ears, eyes and teeth are changing too.

Hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, often occurs with aging. Fats, cholesterol and other substances can form a plaque on the inside walls of the heart arteries. This can restrict the flow of blood and make the heart work harder to pump blood through the arteries. These changes can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and other issues.

The best way to keep your heart healthy as you age is to stay active, eat healthy foods, manage stress, quit smoking if you haven’t already, and get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Walking, swimming, biking, gardening, exercise classes—anything that gets you moving for at least 30 minutes on most days will help you lower your heart disease risk. See our past newsletters to read more about healthy lifestyles (see links below).

As we age, our bones begin to shrink in size and density, making them weaker and more prone to breaks. If less active, our muscles begin to weaken, making us a bit less steady and coordinated.

To promote bone and muscle health, experts recommend getting 1,000 mgs of calcium daily (1,200 for women 51 and older and men 71 and older). Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, broccoli, salmon and tofu. Taking calcium supplements is a good way to get more calcium if it’s hard to get enough from your diet. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, which is why dairy and other products are often fortified with it. Some get the vitamin from sunlight, though the use of sunscreen (needed for skin cancer prevention) interferes with absorption. Tuna, salmon and eggs are sources of vitamin D, or a supplement of 600 IUs per day can be taken.

Physical activity helps to build strong bones and slow bone loss, especially weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, tennis and weight-training. These activities also increase muscle strength. Smoking and alcohol use can affect the health of bones and muscles so try to limit alcohol use and quit smoking (if you smoke).

As we age, it is common to experience more constipation. This happens in part because of a gradual loss of muscle strength and other changes in the digestive tract, but also due to inactivity, low fiber diets or not drinking enough fluids. Medications for certain conditions may also contribute to constipation.

What to do? You guessed it! Eat a healthy diet rich in high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Limit fatty meats, dairy products and sweets which can add to the problem. Drink lots of water and other fluids. And, you guessed it again (!), get moving. Regular exercise can help prevent constipation. Take the stairs, dance, bike to work, or anything that increases your level of activity. You can even look at house cleaning differently; mopping and vacuuming are a good way to add movement to your day!

The bladder and urinary tract are changing too. If the urge to urinate comes more often, it’s likely because the bladder is becoming less elastic. Weaker bladder and pelvic floor muscles can make it harder to fully empty the bladder. For men, an enlarged prostate can also affect bladder function. Loss of bladder control (incontinence) can be caused by being overweight, having diabetes, certain medications, and caffeine or alcohol intake. Healthy bladder and urinary tract habits include using the toilet regularly (not waiting) and maintaining a healthy weight. Caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated drinks are bladder irritants, and can worsen incontinence. Taking the steps above for avoiding constipation can also help with maintaining a healthy bladder.

You may notice changes to the eyes and ears. It may be more difficult to focus on closeup objects; this is called presbyopia, caused by a natural weakening of the eye muscle. It can also be harder to adjust to changing levels of light.

Difficulty hearing high frequencies or conversations in noisy rooms becomes more common. To prevent injury to your eyes, wear sunglasses or a hat outdoors; to prevent hearing loss, use earplugs around machinery or other loud noises. You can keep up on eye and ear health by having regular checkups and following your provider’s advice about wearing glasses, contact lenses and/or hearing aids.

Because our gums may pull back (or recede) from the teeth and some medications can cause dry mouth, the teeth and gums can be at a higher risk for decay and infection as we age. To keep the mouth healthy, brush twice daily and floss between the teeth once a day. Regular dental cleanings and exams can help prevent dental problems from starting or worsening.

The brain also undergoes some changes, which can have minor effects on memory or thinking. It’s normal to forget familiar names or why you walked into a room, or to have difficulty multi-tasking. Many of the things you will do to keep other parts of your body healthy will also help you maintain your cognitive skills: physical activity, a healthy diet, managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, and stopping smoking. Other ways to keep mentally sharp include staying social (spending time with family/friends, attending events or volunteering) and keeping mentally active (reading, playing an instrument, doing crossword puzzles).

Retirement Planning

If you’re thinking about retirement, it’s never too soon, or too late, to plan for it. Financial worries can cause stress, which can affect your health. So, it makes sense to see where you stand. You may appreciate a little time in your working life to catch up.

Financial experts estimate that people will need 70 to 90% of their preretirement income to maintain their standard of living when they stop working. For example, a person making $60,000 at the time of retirement will need $42,000 to $54,000 a year to live in a similar fashion.

You can use online calculators to see how you are doing based on your income, savings and investments. The top way to plan for retirement is to save, and to keep saving! Be sure to contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan, if available, and consider contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) each year. To learn more about retirement planning, see this and this.

Planning for retirement also involves giving some thought to how you will spend your time. What interests will you pursue? How will you stay active and engaged in your community?

Read All About It!!

In case you missed our earlier newsletters on topics related to staying healthy (at any age), see these links:

Believing You Can Cope is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

Turning Food into Energy. Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Food for Thought. Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Is Breaking News Breaking You? How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Managing Your Weight for a Healthy Body and Mind

Calcium and Vitamin D. Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

Common Medical Conditions. Can they Be Prevented or Reversed?

We can’t stop the aging process, but we can make choices that improve our ability to do the things we enjoy. If you are struggling with the aging process, let us help. Your KnovaSolutions clinician may recommend preventive screenings and immunizations; s/he can help with your specific challenges and offer support as you make changes. Give us a call at 800/355-0885, Monday to Friday, 8 am-8 pm, MT.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


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Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

That’s resilience: believing you will be able to cope in the face of barriers, limited resources, trauma, tragedy and other major stressors (family and relationship problems, serious medical concerns, work challenges, etc.). Being resilient means “bouncing back” from life’s difficulties — and becoming stronger in the process.

Psychologist Emmy Werner conducted a 32-year study of 698 children in Hawaii from before birth and into their 30s. She monitored them for stressors (while in the womb, family breakups, poverty, and other hardships). One-third of the children were considered “at-risk” while the rest came from stable families. Of the at-risk children, one-third of them grew into resilient young adults. She found three characteristics that set the resilient children apart from those less resourceful. First, they might have had a strong bond with a parent, teacher or other caregiver/mentor who supported them through good, and hard, times. Next were kids who were independent, sought out new experiences and had a positive outlook on life. Lastly, resilient kids were ones who believed that they (not their circumstances) influenced their fate.

Werner also found that some people who weren’t particularly resilient as children were able to learn the skills of resilience and overcome significant setbacks later in life. That means, for those of us who are not naturally resilient, it is possible to develop resilience.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to identify and manage emotions is key to building resilience. Emotional intelligence involves:

  • Recognizing your feelings while they are happening.
  • Controlling your feelings so that what you express is appropriate to the situation. Cultivating skills such as maintaining perspective, being able to calm yourself, and shaking off irritation, anxiety or sadness. This can help you avoid the pitfalls that strong emotions can push you towards.
  • Staying focused on your goals despite the emotions you feel.
  • Return to your feelings later to acknowledge what triggered them. Ask other’s opinions and consider if the situation needs further attention or if it should be learned from and forgotten.

Building Resilience

Why build resilience? Resilient people are likely to meet personal life expectations and work demands on a regular basis. They take action to deal with setbacks and ask for help when they need it. Resilient people know when they need rest and time to restore. With strong relationships with family, friends and colleagues, they set goals and work towards them with a sense of purpose.

Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t feel pain, distress or sadness through difficult periods. But you will use skills, behaviors and thoughts to help you to survive, and even thrive.

Here are some recommendations from the American Psychological Association for building resilience.

  • Maintain connections with family and friends. Become active in community associations, faith-based organizations and other groups that interest you and offer social support. Both accepting help from people who care about you and assisting others in their time of need, can help give you hope and build resilience.
  • Nurture a positive self-image. Believe that you can overcome a challenge, like the little engine, even if you don’t yet know how. A positive attitude about your ability to solve problems can stimulate creative thinking.
  • Try on the optimist hat! Expect that good things will happen, and that you will be able to manage problems that come up. Visualize what you want instead of worrying about what could go wrong.
  • Reboot your view of crises. Try to see difficulties as problems to sort through, rather than impossible obstacles. We can’t control the fact that change is a part of life and stressful events will continue to happen. It may be necessary to set new goals and accept a new normal. During challenging times, try to find the positive. Focus on the things you can change and give less energy to what you can’t.
  • Set realistic goals and try to do something, even small tasks, every day that moves you closer to achieving your goals. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
  • Address problems head on, rather than ignoring situations in hopes they go away. Resolving conflict has a way of reducing stress. Be proactive and decisive, but with your emotions in check. For example, if a friend or co-worker says something that irks you, you may be tempted to blurt out an angry response. Instead, use the resilient method of noticing the emotion, controlling it, and respectfully disagreeing with the person. After the heat of the situation, find a safe outlet to express your feelings. Talk to a friend or other trusted person and decide if the comment needs to be re-addressed in a calm, constructive manner.  
  • Maintain perspective. When problems are looming, keep the big picture in mind. Avoid blowing problems out of proportion. Look for things to learn and find the good side of a bad situation.
  • When you’ve come through a stressful event, ask yourself what you learned. Did you discover you had more reserves than you thought, build closer relationships or learn a new skill? Did you come through stronger? Remember these milestones when the next difficult situation occurs.

Good for Health!

The positive outlook associated with becoming and being resilient is good for your health. Research has consistently shown that positive emotions like happiness, contentment and joy are linked to stronger immune systems. Our immune system is what helps us resist infections and fight disease. Check out the KnovaSolutions newsletter, The Path to Emotional Wellness.

See our other newsletters that highlight ways to find balance through good nutrition, exercise and problem-solving:

Food for Thought. Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Work-Life Integration. A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

That All Sounds Great, But…

If you are right in the middle of one of life’s rough spots, but haven’t started working on building resilience, this is a good time to ask for help. Who in your support network do you feel comfortable reaching out to? Sister, son, spouse, friend or religious person? Does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Have you called your KnovaSolutions clinician? Use your support system to help you think through possible solutions and actions to take.

How can KnovaSolutions help? If you are struggling with stressful situations, we can offer an empathetic ear, provide information and support, and refer you to resources. Sometimes just talking to an impartial person can clear away the cobwebs and make it easier to take the next steps. Whatever your stressors are, let KnovaSolutions lend a helping hand. We’ll help you on your way to a more resilient way of life. Call us at 800/355-0885, Monday to Friday, 8 am-8 pm, MT.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


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Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

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Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


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A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

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Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

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Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


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Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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