How Meditation and Prayer Promotes Impacts Aging

Note: This post is not intended to promote or discourage any type of religious believe.  We found the research interesting and felt readers would find it interesting regardless of the religions, or lack of, religious beliefs.

Previous research has shown religion to have a positive effect on older peoples’ lives.

Older people who practice religion tend to be more physically healthier than those who did not. The reason why is because older people who practice solitary spiritual pursuits are engaged in purposeful activities that give them inner satisfaction.

The idea that a personal relationship with a higher being through prayer promotes successful aging is an example of selective optimization with compensation. This theory says that successful aging is dependent on a person selecting a specific task important to them, and then completing that task by optimizing the skills they still have while compensating for the skills they no longer have.

The classic textbook example illustrates an older man who wants to keep his driver’s license but knows he can no longer see at night. What does he do? He only drives during the day and finds someone to drive him around at night. Now back to the prayer example; by SELECTING prayer as a means to maintain religious identity, older adults are OPTIMIZING their current abilities while COMPENSATING that they are no longer able to be as physically involved with their church as they use to be.

Studies have found that a prerequisite to these benefits is an existing belief in a higher being. Sometimes people dealing with the end stages of life seek out religion as a way to come to terms with death. This has been shows to have little impact, as individuals were not show to receive the emotional and physical benefits of prayer unless they has an existing belief in the who/what they are praying to.

The role of meditation

It should also be noted that meditation has many of the same benefits that prayer has. People who practice meditation are physically healthier than those who do not. It is probably because meditation helps people deal with a stress in a more healthy manner.

Both practices–prayer and meditation–help people deal with stress and anxiety. Prayer teaches people to give their worries to a higher being, meditation teaches people to let their worries just go. What’s the secret to successful aging? To age successfully you need engage in meaningful activities that bring your inner satisfaction that also reduce your stress.

Photo credit: Kris_B

About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder of InsideElder Care and author of the ByFamilies, For Families Guide to Assisted Living. He regularly speaks and advises families about how to improve their aging loved one’s quality of life. Ryan is also the president of SmartBug Media, a content marketing agency that helps companies increase leads, customers and influence. You can read more from Ryan on the SmartBug Media blog or follow him on Twitter.


Dementia and Type 2 Diabetes

Dementia and type 2 diabetes are serious concerns for older adults. Both diseases are becoming epidemics in this country. The Alzheimer’s Association has become a household name, and many people know of someone who has participated in a Memory Walk. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that was once called adult onset diabetes, but that term is no longer used because younger and younger people are developing the disease. In fact, the current generation of children is the only cohort in the history of humankind at risk of not out living their parents because of obesity related diseases.

Being overweight is not good at any age, and it begins to affect the brain. “Being fat has a detrimental impact on the brain,” says Kaiser Permanente research scientist Rachel Whitmer. She is the co-author of a nine-year study of 10,276 people in Northern California that found people who are obese in middle age (body mass index of 30 or more) are 74% more likely to develop dementia than people of healthy weights.

Benefits of exercise

Physical and mental exercise can prevent type 2 diabetes and dementia.  Numerous studies have proven that exercise is beneficial when it comes to diabetes.  Now researchers are beginning to see the benefits of exercise when it comes to dementia.  A study from Seattle Washington found people who exercised at least 3 times per week were less likely to develop dementia than those who were less active. The American Academy of Neurology recently published the result of a study of more than 700 older people in Chicago that concluded, “a cognitive active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age.”

Diabetes and the brain

It’s known that there are cells in the brain that sense blood sugar levels (called glucose-sensing neurons). New research shows that in type II diabetics, at least some of the neurons that are supposed to sense rises in blood sugar aren’t doing their job. Many physicians think of type II diabetes as solely a disease of the body, but we may need to start thinking about it as a disease of the brain as well.

The point is maintaining a healthy body is just as important as maintaining a healthy brain. So when you are between crossword puzzles, start jogging!

Photo credit: jeffdiogenes

About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder of InsideElder Care and author of the ByFamilies, For Families Guide to Assisted Living. He regularly speaks and advises families about how to improve their aging loved one’s quality of life. Ryan is also the president of SmartBug Media, a content marketing agency that helps companies increase leads, customers and influence. You can read more from Ryan on the SmartBug Media blog or follow him on Twitter.

Debra Granich and The Red Hat Society Make Aging Fun

When the topic of aging parents pops up, many people immediately shift the conversation to healthcare, senior living communities or dementia.  And that’s fair, because many people don’t often think of these things until it’s crashing down upon them.

So when I met Debra Granich, the president and CEO of the Red Hat Society, I was delighted at such a refreshing experience.  Without stealing Debra’s thunder in the interview, the Red Hat Society (or Red Hatters) approaches aging with an eye toward support and a requirement for fun.  For many of you who’ve heard me speak, you know that I am a huge believer in the power of friendships and socialization to keep the body and mind youthful.  The Red Hatters have institutionalized this attitude across its very large membership and are realizing incredible results.

In this Leaders in Elder Care podcast, Debra shares the mission behind the Red Hat Society and some news that should make every senior lady and her family excited.  Enjoy!

How does Debra Granich describe the Red Hat Society? Keep reading.

Who We Are:

  • A global society of women approaching the age of 50 and beyond that connects and supports each other in their pursuit of fun, friendship, freedom and fulfillment. By maintaining a thriving social networking community and offering a variety of services and group experiences, the Red Hat Society revitalizes its members, helping them attain renewed confidence, pride and enthusiasm for life.
  • RHS members wear full regalia that includes distinctive red hats and purple outfits if you are 50 or older, pink hats and lavender outfits if you are under 50.
  • Our mission is to connect like-minded women around the world and to encourage them to have fun together. We are a vivacious society of women who celebrate life. Along the way, we develop strong bonds and caring friendships–at the same time raising the respect and visibility of women who are entering their next stage in life.

How It Started:

  • It began with a simple gift. Sue Ellen Cooper gave a dear friend a copy of a poem encouraging women to don a red hat and purple outfit in the face of getting older. She also gave the friend a bright red fedora to celebrate the friend’s 55th birthday in November 1997.
  • The Red Hat Society officially formed April 25, 1998 when Sue Ellen Cooper and a group of five friends, known as The Founding Chapter of Fullerton, California, dressed in purple clothing and red hats and met for afternoon tea.
  • Word quickly spread of these outings after a story appeared in Romantic Homes in July 2000. Since then, hundreds of articles have been published in regional newspapers and national magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day.
  • Sue Ellen Cooper never set out to ignite an international phenomenon. She simply wanted to share her light-hearted attitude toward aging with a few girlfriends. In response to national news coverage, the Red Hat Society exploded.


  • Approximately 30,000 chapters exist in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 25 foreign countries.
  • It is estimated that each chapter averages 20-25 members.
  • The Red Hat Society is made up of a diverse network of women including working women and retirees, grandmothers, golfers, attorneys, teachers, Olympians and entertainers.
  • The Red Hat Society has licensing agreements with a dozen companies to produce quality merchandise available through the Red Hat Society Store and select retail stores throughout the United States. Product is identifiable by a tag bearing the official Red Hat Society logo.

Fun Facts:

  • 2008 is the Red Hat Society’s 10th birthday, which will be celebrated all year long with 4 conventions, 2 cruises, 2 outrageous birthday parties, a parade in London and many more surprises.
  • Exalted Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper reaches more than 125,000 Red Hatters each week through the Friday Broadcast, a personal e-mail updating members with news from Hatquarters and escapades of Red Hat Society members around the world.
  • Sue Ellen Cooper also sends a personal monthly broadcast to all Queens entitled Queen To Queen. This is a communique for all queens to share ideas and plans and to ask questions.
  • HATS! The Musical premiered Oct. 11, 2006 at The New Denver Civic Theatre and has since launched in its fifth market.
  • Red Hat Society Day is celebrated April 25th by official chapters worldwide.

About Debra Granich

In her role as chief executive officer for The Red Hat Society, Inc., Debra Granich has been instrumental in leading and building the organization’s international business operations, including membership, product, events, entertainment, travel and more. During her seven-year tenure, The RHS, Inc. has grown into a leading international women’s social organization with more than 30,000 chapters.

Previously, Debra held senior management positions for national retail store Contempo Casuals, then part of the Neiman Marcus Group. She subsequently transitioned to RHS from the Walt Disney Company where she held human resources leadership roles in Consumer Products and Theme Parks divisions. Among her responsibilities was the Disneyland Resort expansion project leading to the successful launch of an additional theme park, hotel and downtown shopping area.

Passionate about women’s health, education and social issues, Debra believes in living the values and mission of the Red Hat Society. An avid traveler, she is committed to changing the traditional notion of aging worldwide.

Debra earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton and continues to be active in many social and business groups associated with her alma mater. Debra and her husband Boris have been married for more than 27 years and together they have two sons in college.

Contacting the Red Hat Society

The Red Hat Society can be reached online or by phone at:

1-866-FUN-AT50 (866-386-2850); or

Dr. Kevin O’Neil Helps Keep Your Brain in Shape

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I had the privilege to speak to Dr. Kevin O’Neil.  I first met Dr. O’Neil at Brookdale’s Brain Symposium a few months ago at UCLA, where I left quite impressed with the his approach to brain fitness and brain health.  Dr. O’Neil combines a deep understanding of both the science behind brain health and the practical advise that non-doctors require to do something about.  Congratulations, Dr. O’Neil, for being a Leader in Elder Care.

I hope you all enjoy the interview.

About Dr. Kevin O’Neil

Dr. Kevin O’Neil is the Medical Director for Brookdale Senior Living (BSL), the largest senior housing provided in the United States. Dr. O’Neil practiced and taught geriatric medicine for over 27 years (seven years in Massachusetts and 20 years in Sarasota, FL).  A graduate of Boston College and Georgetown University School of Medicine, he completed his internship in Internal Medicine at the Washington Hospital Center and his residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.  He was formerly an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Aging at the University of South Florida.

He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is a member of the American Geriatrics Society and the American Medical Directors Association.

Dr. O’Neil is co-editor and a contributing writer to Optimal Aging Manual, which Art Linkletter has called “the great master book for the boomers.”

Taking Your Feet for Granted? Meet Ray Margiano, Founder of Foot Solutions and Leader in Elder Care

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I wanted to step back from residential and medical care and focus on something that many of us take for granted.  The simple fact is that for seniors, foot comfort and correctly-fitted shoes can make the difference between independence and comfort or pain and immobility.  As an athlete, I thought I knew a lot about shoes – the how and why the need to fit.  When you talk to Ray Margiano, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions, you quickly learn the mind-numbing depth of science that goes into shoes.   I’ve named Ray Margiano a Leader in Elder Care because of the passion he brings to his business and for the incredible impact that his work has on millions of seniors who want to keep moving forward.  Kudos, Ray!  And to the rest of our readers, I hope you enjoy the interview…with your shoes ON!

About Ray Magiano

Ray Margiano PhD, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions, established Foot Solutions at the end of 2000 with three employees and no funding, to provide custom orthotics and shoes to fit and provide proper support, and to address the individual foot health needs of a wide variety of consumers. By the end of 2008, he grew the company to more than 240 franchises worldwide and a corporate staff of over 50 people with sales around $100-million. Foot Solutions has already signed agreements in 16 countries with master developers and are projecting five new countries per year with a continuing growth rate of 50 new units a year.

Ray’s business philosophy is to give something back to the community and to be part of positive change and energy. As such, Foot Solutions provides many outreach programs donating time and money to organizations active in health and wellness, children’s obesity, diabetes and foot care. Ray also serves on the American Diabetes Association’s advisory board, is a member of the Board of Governors at University of New Haven and on the Board of Directors for the National Shoe Retailers Association.

Ray has received many awards in business throughout his career, including the 2008 Cobb Chamber Small Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year Atlanta 1994, Blue Chip Award Winner, and International Fran¬chise Award for International Excellence, University of New Haven Distinguished Alumni Award and Distinguished Bartels Fellowship Award University of New Haven, among others. He is a frequent speaker on franchising, the footwear industry, pedorthics and Balance Walking, a low-impact exercise using modified ski poles with wrist straps that increases circulation muscles and aerobic fitness.

Ray has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of New Haven, a Masters degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in International Business Administration from Canbourne University. Before founding Foot Solutions, Ray held high-level positions at Sikorsky Aircraft, Sybron and Textron and also founded Heel Quik, the world’s largest personal services franchise with over 700 operations in more than 30 countries. Ray is also the author of “Balance Walking”, which teaches about the physical benefits of Nordic Pole walking.

How Ray Margiano Described Foot Solutions

Foot Solutions is a leading multinational retailer of proper-fitting, comfortable, high-performance shoes, custom inserts and technology-driven health and wellness products to consumers across the globe. With more than 240 stores in 13 countries, Foot Solutions is the world’s largest health and wellness franchise dedicated to foot care.

CEO Ray Margiano PhD, founded Foot Solutions in 2000 after a 20-year career in the foot care and pedorthic industry to provide custom orthotics and shoes to fit and provide proper support, and to address the individual needs of a wide variety of consumers.

The company’s philosophy of better health through your feet is put in practice by providing a full line of quality shoes, arch supports and foot care accessories for all lifestyles. A key part of the Foot Solutions experience – and a core aspect of the company’s overall product and philosophy – is an individualized consultation for each customer to determine the proper shoe, orthotic or other foot care product for their specific needs.

Foot Solutions’ staff, versed in both foot pathology and properly fitting shoes, helps customers make choices that will support their foot care plan, accommodate foot problems, or simply offer both comfort and style. Foot Solutions offers foot care products specifically tailored to individuals with 18 health problems including heel and arch pain, diabetic foot disorders, arthritis, sports injuries, and back pain through expertly fitting footwear, arch supports and other foot pain relief products. It also provides shoes and other products designed to accommodate and alleviate foot injuries, products to optimize athletic performance, fitness and training aids, and corrective and occupational footwear, including nonslip shoes.

Part of Foot Solutions’ philosophy is to contribute in positive ways to the community on a local, national and global level. To that end, the company provides opportunities for its associates to participate in programs related to children’s obesity, diabetics, fitness, and retirement communities. Foot Solutions is also a consistent supporter of the President’s Challenge program for getting Americans back in shape and Soles for Souls, which donates shoes for flood, fire and the underprivileged.

Neil Moore Eases Long Distance Caregiver Stress with Connect 4 Healthcare

My mother lives in San Diego. I live about an hour north in Orange County. One sister lives an hour north of Los Angeles. My other sister lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

As one might imagine, long distance caregiving is an issue with which my family continuously grapples. It’s the peace of mind and communication that always seems to be the toughest to maintain. Who calls the community? Who calls the family? How do you maintain any consistency in the update you get on her care? The questions can be endless.

That’s why I was so excited when I started following Neil Moore and Connect 4 Healthcare more than 6 months ago. Neil’s brought the company from a great idea and a prototype to a service enormously valuable to families like me.

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I had the chance to catch up with Neil was really excited to hear that Connect 4 Healthcare was living up to its potential.  I am glad to be able to call Neil a Leader in Elder Care and hope you enjoy the interview.

About Neil Moore

With over twenty years of successful health care business experience, Neil Moore has spent the last 16 years on the management teams of health information technology companies in roles that include management of application development, marketing, sales, clinical consulting and strategic partnerships. Before starting Connect 4 Healthcare, he was Executive Vice President of Evention Healthcare, Inc., a long-term-care software start-up, where he was responsible for Strategy, Marketing, Sales and Business Development. In 2007, Evention Healthcare was purchased by the largest long-term care pharmacy services provider in the US (Omnicare, Inc).

How Neil Describes Connect 4 Healthcare

Founded in 2008 by Neil Moore, Connect 4 Healthcare, LLC provides an easy-to-use, inexpensive web service (Connect for Healthcare™) that enables long-term care providers to improve resident/client care, the family experience, operational efficiency and differentiate themselves in the market place by dramatically improving and documenting their communication with families using modern technologies. In just a few minutes per week, the Connect service enables care providers to deliver regular, proactive updates to the entire family through the Internet, Email and Text Messaging – no matter where they might be – in 70% less time than it takes them to answer a typical update call from just 1 family member.

Contact Information

Steven Aldrich Advances Brain Fitness at Posit Science

In this Leaders in Elder Care Interview, I spoke with Steven Aldrich of Posit Science.  Posit Science is one of the leaders in what is a growing market for brain fitness and memory care software.  There are many ways to provide memory training, as some of you may know, but I really enjoyed two things from my interviews and several discussions with Steven.  First, Posit Science has gone the extra distance to conduct clinical studies on the use of their software.  This is where the rubber really meets the road in terms of validating marketing claims with real world evidence.

Second, I really appreciated the extension of brain fitness into a lifestyle rather than just a treatment for specific conditions. Research shows that brain fitness is something that should be started sooner rather than later, so was a relief to see the “lifestyle” element incorporated in the way Steven and Posit Science approach the market.

Enjoy the interview!

About Steven Aldrich

Steven Aldrich is president and CEO of Posit Science, joining the company from Intuit where he created significant growth over 13 years in many roles. Most recently he was vice president of Strategy and Innovation of the small business division where he accelerated growth by solving important customer problems through partnerships and acquisitions. He guided the QuickBooks Industry Solutions and QuickBooks Point of Sale teams to several successive years of significant employee engagement increases, customer experience improvements and revenue growth. Steven was president of Quicken Insurance, a business he co-founded and sold to Intuit. He has worked in the investment banking division of Alex. Brown & Sons and for McKinsey & Company.

Steven completed his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and he holds an AB in Physics from the University of North Carolina. Steven is an avid supporter of the arts, president of the Board of the Bay Area Glass Institute ( and enjoys spending time with his wife Allison and their son, Jackson.

How Steven Describes Posit Science

Founded in 2003 in San Francisco, Posit Science ( helps adults stay vibrant throughout their lives with brain fitness software that engages the brain’s natural plasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire.) Our staff neuroscientists collaborate with a team of more than 50 scientists from leading institutions around the globe to develop and test programs that improve cognitive performance—and enhance quality of life. The company’s products and scientists are currently featured in two PBS documentaries, including “The Brain Fitness Program.”

Posit Science grew out of the pioneering work of renowned neuroscientist Dr. Michael Merzenich. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, and Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Merzenich has a track record of turning neuroscience into practical tools that benefit consumers. More than 30 published studies show that our 90 patented technologies significantly increase processing speed, improve memory and enhance the quality of everyday life.

All three of Posit Science’s interactive brain fitness software programs are designed to help users think faster, focus better and remember more.  The difference is in how the products train your brain.

The Brain Fitness Program™ is a software program for the auditory system of the brain. Auditory processing is fundamental to brain fitness because much of the important information taken in each day—and that people want to respond to, remember and use later—comes in through what is heard. These skills can help a person remember details of a conversation, find the words on the “tip of their tongue” and keep up with rapid speech.

InSight™ is a software program that sharpens the brain’s visual system, resulting in a person seeing more of what’s around them, reacting to it quicker and remembering it better. These skills are essential to everyday activities, like matching names with faces, keeping track of grandchildren on a busy playground and remembering where the keys are.

DriveSharp™ is a driving-focused product, containing two of the five exercises in Insight.  DriveSharp focuses on the visual areas in the brain that are essential to safe driving and is clinically proven to train the brain to think and react faster on the road.  Improvements in visual processing skills decrease the risk of an accident by 50 percent. DriveSharp is recommended by the AAA Foundation.

To conduct clinical studies, we work with leading researchers at prestigious institutions, including, Cambridge, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, MIT, Stanford, UCSF and USC. We have also established business partnerships with global organizations, including AAA Clubs, AAA Foundation, Alzheimer’s Australia, Allstate, Capital Health, Penn Treaty and QVC.

Contact Information for Posit Science

Posit Science Corporation
225 Bush St., 7FL
San Francisco, CA 94104

Leaders in Elder Care: Michele Nuzzo, Midlife Transitions and Retirement Coach

Every one of us goes through transitions in our lives.  Sometimes, external factors such as caregiving impacts our ability to get through those transitions smoothly.  And if caregiving isn’t enough, a stress of coming retirement can really put you out of alignment.

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, we meet Michele Nuzzo.  Michele is midlife transitions and retirement coach – someone who can help you get untuck when you are least able to make progress.   What I really like about Michele’s approach to coaching is her use of time-tested assessment tools as part of her care.  These tools are objective, disarming people who might otherwise be defensive or reluctant to open up to new ideas.  Michele has a very soothing demeanor which is a perfect fit for a coach.

Congratulations to Michele for being a Leader in Elder Care.

About Michele Nuzzo

Midlife Transitions and Retirement Lifestyle Coach Michele A. Nuzzo is the founder of Midlife Menu. Michele empowers baby boomers to find their own path to a more conscious and joyful life as they juggle careers, caregiving and planning for retirement. She inspires them to reinvent themselves and ignite the spark of passion and purpose in their second act of life. On a personal level, she has been involved with chronic and acute caregiving issues for more than 15 years.

Michele is a certified life coach and a certified retirement coach. She earned her life coaching certification from Coach Training Alliance. She is also certified by Retirement Options to administer and interpret their proprietary assessment tools, the Retirement Success Profile® and LifeOptions Profile®.

Michele graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, a paralegal certificate, and a designation in journalism with a specialization in print journalism.

She also earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. Before launching her coaching practice and freelance writing career, Michele served as a human resources representative /senior benefits and policies adviser for a major corporation and as director of development and communications for several nonprofit organizations.

Contact Information

To learn more, visit

Follow Michele on Twitter at



Leaders in Elder Care: Karen Love, Master Collaborator for Excellence in Assisted Living (Podcast)

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I am proud to introduce Karen Love.  Karen is the founder of the Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living and the managing director for the National Center for Excellence in Assisted Living.  I’ve followed Karen’s work for over 6 months since we first met and I have been so impressed by her vision for a better assisted living.  She is also active in the Pioneer Network and has committed her career to improves the lives of assisted living residents and their families.

What stands out about Karen is her laser focus on the belief that collaboration is one of the most effective tools for solving problems.  She has applied this line of thinking to elder care and her accomplishments all well deserving of the recognition. Whether you are a family member or industry professional, you’ll enjoy this interview.

About Karen Love

Karen Love is a former speech pathologist and long-term care administrator with more than 25 years experience in aging services.  Through her company, Pathways to Care, Karen works as a consultant and educator.  Besides a commitment to identify and promote effective evidence-based practices to enhance practices in aging services, she has a passion for quality dementia care.  She innovated a nationally-recognized program utilizing Montessori-based principles to improve physical function and psychosocial well-being for elders and individuals with disabilities known as therapeutic engagement.

Karen serves as the managing director for the national Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL).  CEAL is a national organization of diverse assisted living stakeholder organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, AARP, AAHSA, the National Center for Assisted Living, and the Pioneer Network among others that champions the belief that better outcomes can be achieved through true collaboration.

Contact Information

Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living

Center for Excellence in Assisted Living