Amedisys Poised To Help Baby Boomers 'Age In Place' – Investor's Business Daily

“Aging in place” is the mantra of Baby Boomers hoping to live out their senior years at home, and Amedisys (AMED) is looking to play a role in realizing that.

A home health care provider, Amedisys offers home nursing and rehab, life assistance and hospice services. And it’s growing organically and via acquisitions, while boosting its quality-of-care ratings. These ratings, put into place by Medicare last year, will have a dramatic impact on the health care services market in the next few years, according to Amedisys and market analysts.

“We think health care is really changing; home health is a lower-cost care option,” Brian Tanquilut, analyst with Jefferies LLC, told Investor’s Business Daily. “We’re very bullish on Amedisys; It’s the biggest in the space of the pure-play, publicly traded home health care companies.”

NAch-AMED-041816He’s rated Amedisys a buy.

“Home health care will be an ultimate winner” of the move to aging in place, Frank Morgan, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, told IBD.

Bigger Will Be Better

Bigger players can invest in the computer systems and overall size to gain efficiency and improve performance. Paul Kusserow, Amedisys’ chief executive, spoke with IBD and says home health care is a “highly fragmented market and it will continue to consolidate.”

The company has already closed two acquisitions this year — Associated Home Care for $28 million and Infinity HomeCare for $63 million.

“We have a phenomenal balance sheet,” Kusserow said. “We’ve been paying largely cash for our acquisitions.”

He says the company is in dialogues with “20 to 30” companies for possible acquisitions.

“They have a lot of firepower to do deals,” said Tanquilut. “Bigger providers have the ability to scale, to train and to invest in (information technology).”

“Star ratings and Medicare reimbursement dollars are being tied to outcomes and that favors the bigger, more sophisticated players,” David MacDonald, an analyst with Suntrust Robinson Humphrey, told IBD. He rates Amedisys a buy.

Two other companies specialize in home healthcare, LHC Group (LHCG) and Almost Family (AFAM). Large health care companies also have moved into the home health care space as well, including Kindred Healthcare (KND) and HealthSouth (HLS), which both acquired companies in the space.

Morgan said: “There’s a huge consolidation opportunity, as increasing regulatory and quality requirements will cause mom-and-pop companies to exit the business.”

He has a market perform rating on Amedisys.

The Importance Of Tech

Amedisys also is focused on gaining efficiencies through the adoption of a new patient care information technology system, called HomeCare Homebase. The software company of the same name is part of Hearst Corp.’s health network.

“We’re all in on this” tech project, said Kusserow, saying the whole company will be on it by the end of October.

“We’re going to do it in a little over a year,” even though the company initially predicted it would take two years, he said.

“We think we’ll be able to deliver $40 million to $50 million in savings with this system — we’ve said this to Wall Street,”  he said. Kusserow added that Amedisys has been running its business on three different software systems, which he says is “very inefficient.”

Tanquilut is convinced: “The new (tech) system will improve quality.”

The company sees more than 35,000 patients a day. Kusserow says the new cloud computing software, which stores records remotely, will allow care providers to use tablets instead of expensive laptops. And he says it enables “better documentation, better reporting, and better, more-efficient staffing.” He says it’s also tightly coupled with billing and will improve the accounts receivable process.

That’s a plus, but Amedisys already is producing some enviable numbers. Its net income for its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2015, was $13.1 million, up 41% from $9.3 million in the year-ago period. Diluted earnings rose 36% to 38 cents per share from 28 cents in 2014’s fourth quarter.

Total service revenue for the fourth quarter grew roughly 13% to $338.4 million versus $300.5 million in the year-ago period. For the full year, total revenue grew 6.7% to $1.28 billion from $1.20 billion in 2014.

Zack’s puts Amedisys’ first-quarter 2016 earnings at 34 cents a share and full-year 2016 earnings at $1.75 per share.

Amedisys traded at around 13 back in June 2014, but closed above 30 by March 2015 and rose above 48 by August 2015. Amedisys hit a new intraday 52-week high of 49.50 on Monday.

Pay For Performance

And margins for high-quality providers should improve with the government’s move to ratings and pay-for-performance.

“In 2018, CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will begin determining percentage bonuses and billing cuts for home health in nine states, based on a number of metrics,” said Tanquilut. “Providers in the top bucket in these states will get a bonus of plus 3% on their billing starting in 2018 — minus 3% for those with the worst performance — and by 2022 it goes to plus/minus 8%. So quality will matter.”

Kusserow said: “By moving to quality it creates differentiation. So we’re behind this change.”

CMS is also rating providers now, and Amedisys’ initial score from the government in 2015 was 3.49 out of 5 possible stars. But Kusserow says 30% of its centers achieved 4.0-plus stars.

BOX041816“Our objective is by 2017 all our care centers will be at 4.0 and above,” he said.

Employee Retention

That means making sure all of its roughly 14,000 employees are focused on providing high-quality care. Shortly after Kusserow joined Amedisys at the end of 2014, he brought over Larry Pernosky, a human resources executive from Humana (HUM), where Kusserow had been a senior executive.

One of Pernosky’s missions has been to drive down turnover rates. Amedisys’ rate dropped to 29.3% in 2015 from 32.2% in 2014.

“We hope to get to 25% by the end of 2016 and below 20% by the end of 2017,” said Kusserow.

Additionally, Amedisys tracks its own metric for patient care “with engagement scores.”

Even Kusserow’s pay package is partially determined by turnover rates and engagement scores.

“We take this very seriously and everyone is incentivized around quality,” he said.

The Secret to Optimal Baby Boomer Health and Wellness – A Healthy Endocrine System

The first “Boomers” will turn 65 in 2011, and according to a report published by the American Hospital Association, more than 37 million Boomers – six out of 10 – will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030. In addition, by the year 2030:

1) 14 million Boomers will be living with diabetes – that’s one out of every four Boomers.

2) Almost half of the Boomers will live with arthritis and that number escalates to just over 26 million in 2020.

3) More than one out of three Boomers – over 21 million – will be considered obese.

These statistics are alarming, but is there anything that can be done to avert this medical crisis? Many experts believe that there is a solution and that the answer lies in the improved health of our endocrine system.

Our bodies have two ways of controlling our body tissues. One way is through the nervous system with its neural pathways. The other way of controlling body tissues is through the endocrine system. Our endocrine system is an information signal system much like the nervous system. Whilst our nervous system uses nerves to conduct information, our endocrine system uses our vascular system to carry sex hormone and non-sex hormone agents to the 50 trillion cells in our body.

Our endocrine systems comprise a network of glands that produce more than fifty different known hormones to maintain and regulate basic bodily functions. Hormones are chemical messengers – this is the way our bodies communicate at a cellular level. The main function of our endocrine system and its hormone messengers is to maintain homeostasis (a stable internal environment in the body) and to promote permanent structural changes.

The most important part of our endocrine system is the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, or the HPA axis as it is referred to commonly. HPA axis dysfunction has been shown to lead to conditions such as abdominal obesity, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, mild depression and anxiety, anorexia, poor sleep patterns, bone mineral loss, high lipids, loss of lean muscle mass, altered cognitive performance and decreased sexual behavior. The list goes on.

According to Donald R. Yance, an expert on the subject, “The disruption of the HPA axis is often central to most health problems, syndromes, diseases, and even aging itself.”

When we are young, the communication between cells is excellent and our bodies operate at optimum efficiency. However, as we get older, our endocrine system falters and the system becomes less responsive to the needs of our body. Our body’s cells begin to function less and less efficiently as we age and our normal bodily functions begin to falter. The end result of this progressive dysfunction is the “disease of aging” and ultimately death.

Ninety percent of all adult illness is due to the degenerative processes of aging. This includes heart disease, most cancers, adult-onset diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, autoimmune disease, glaucoma, and Alzheimer’s.

“Aging is characterized by a general decline in most physiologic functions, and in particular, by a decreased capacity to maintain homeostasis during episodes of stress. These changes are believed to reflect the accumulation of damage to cells and tissues resulting from a variety of toxic factors, either produced endogenously during normal growth and metabolism, or derived from the environment. Normal function and survival are dependent on the cell’s ability to resist or adapt to such stress and to repair or replace damaged molecules. The need to enhance adaptation is critical,” says Yance.

One of the ways we can help our bodies cope with such stress is to supplement with a powerful adaptogen. An adaptogen is a natural herb product that increases the body’s resistance to stresses such as trauma, anxiety and bodily fatigue. They normalize the HPA axis. Adaptogenic herbs are unique from other substances in their ability to improve balance of endocrine hormones and the immune system, and they help the body to maintain optimal homeostasis.

“If we can improve cellular signaling as we age, we will be able to better support our cells, tissues and organs. If our cells are healthy, we will be healthy. Restoring balance to the HPA axis and supplementing with a powerful antioxidant and bio-energetic nutrients is the key to cellular rejuvenation and restoration,” comments Dr. Tim Chapman of Murrieta, CA.

The key to optimal health is balancing the HPA axis and by doing so we are effectively harmonizing the entire endocrine system. When this occurs, our bodies begin to balance and produce hormones at more youthful levels. This leads to improved cellular signaling, homeostatic balance is reinstated and cell receptor site sensitivity is improved.

The combination of improved cellular signaling and a powerful antioxidant will result in improved cellular rejuvenation and our bodies will be able to operate with improved efficiency. In this manner we are able to support the age-reversing process at a cellular level that ultimately translates to an improvement in longevity, vitality, health and wellness.

“Once the human body is in a state of homeostasis it has the potential to heal just about anything, especially those age-related diseases and illnesses that are confronting the Baby Boomers,” says Dr. Chapman.

Baby Boomers experienced huge shifts in ag – Iowa Farmer Today

EVERLY — Spring is losing this battle with Old Man Winter as strong northwest winds whip Keith Kruse’s jacket.

“We’re more than ready for it to warm up,” he says as he walks toward his 1976 John Deere 4430 tractor.

“That’s the first tractor I bought on my own,” Kruse explains. “It’s pretty dirty, but it’s a good tractor.”

This marks the 40th year of farming for the Northwest Iowa man, who returned home full time after getting his farm operations degree from Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg.

“Forty years. I guess that’s right,” Kruse says. “I learned how to drive when I was a kid on a John Deere A, and we used a four-row planter. We went from picking ear corn to having everything combined. A lot has changed.”

Kruse and his wife, Joyce, farm near here in Clay County. Their son, Javan, is also involved in the grain and hog operation.

“I rented an 80 near my parents when I got out of school, and Dad decided to expand our hog operation at that time,” he says. “We built a farrowing and nursery building and started growing.”

Over time, Kruse slowly increased his crop acres and hog operation. In 1998, he and other farmers partnered on a sow unit southeast of Spencer, and today, he and his son own it with their partner, Bob Donahue.

Keith and Javan market about 18,000 hogs annually, in addition to growing corn, soybeans and a few oats.

As new technology emerged, Kruse says he looked to put it to use on his farm.

“We embraced technology as we could afford it,” he says with a grin.

Many of those changes include improvements in machinery and efficiency.

“Everything is electronic, like yield mapping and controlling hog buildings,” he says. “We can utilize the liquid manure from our buildings and inject it where it’s needed.

“In most ways, it’s much easier to farm today than it was when I was growing up, or when I started.”

50 years of change

The influence of the Baby Boomer generation on agriculture has been remarkable, says Paul Lasley, Extension sociologist with Iowa State University.

Not only have those born from 1946 to 1964 contributed to a wide variety of innovations, but Lasley says his generation has taken those innovations and made them work.

“That first wave of Baby Boomers is turning 70 this year, and just think about all they have seen,” he says. “If you assume an average starting age of 20, that first group has been farming for 50 years. They have experienced so much in that time.”

Lasley says Baby Boomer farmers have lived through several significant events, including a boom in land prices triggered by the Russian grain deal in the 1970s, the farm crisis of the mid-1980s and a robust farm economy over the last five years.

“They really have seen the best of times and maybe the worst of times,” he says.

According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, roughly 28 percent of Iowa’s farmers are between the ages of 55 and 64, with another 17 percent ages 65 to 74.

“Almost half of our farmers would be considered Baby Boomers,” Lasley says. “That’s pretty remarkable.”

It would be impossible to list all the changes in farm machinery, livestock, agronomy, economics and anything else associated with agriculture, he says.

Lasley says in the mid-1960s, John Deere stopped making the two-cylinder tractor. Around that time, the moldboard plow gave way to new tillage equipment.

“We saw many advances in machinery after World War II, when these farm kids starting coming back from the war with all the new ideas they had seen,” he says. “It really started the demise of general farming and pushed us into specialization.”

The boom in technological advances has made farmers more efficient. Yields have increased dramatically. Hogs are raised indoors and fed ethanol co-products.

But along with those changes, Lasley says agriculture is losing a vital resource.

“Those Baby Boomer farmers have so much knowledge and so much experience, and as some of them start to retire or approach retirement, we are losing so much,” he says. “They learned how to work while growing up, and they taught that work ethic to their children. We grew up knowing the value of hard work, thrift and ingenuity. It’s important that we take advantage of their experience.”

Kruse says very little about his profession remains the same as it was when he started farming.

Hogs are raised indoors and to heavier weights. Crop yields have doubled. Machinery has lessened the physical toll on farmers. He knows things will continue to change, and his son may have the same perspective after four decades on the farm.

“You always heard about the things you might see in the future, but you weren’t sure if it would actually come about,” Kruse says.

“But it’s here. We have all this new technology that makes us better farmers.

“I like it. I don’t want to go back to how things used to be.”

Baby Boomers driving demand for second homes – ConsumerAffairs

PhotoThe U.S. real estate market appears strong, with tight inventories driving home prices higher in most markets.

And it’s not just primary residences that are in growing demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports sales of vacation homes – while down in 2015 from the year before, are nonetheless on a red hot pace.

In fact, the Realtors’ group says the median sales price of both vacation and investment properties surged last year, though the number of sales declined from the previous year.

As they have done throughout their adult lives, Baby Boomers are driving this trend.

Boomers propel demand

“Baby boomers at or near retirement continue to propel the demand for second homes, although headwinds softened the overall volume of vacation sales last year,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a release.

Yun says there are more buyers competing for a dwindling number of bargain-priced properties. This tighter supply in the face of rising demand may have resulted in fewer sales, but the homes that did sell sold at a premium.

Perhaps because of the popularity of cable TV shows about home “flipping,” sales of investment homes posted a significant increase in 2015, rising from 1.02 million to 1.09 million, a 7% gain. The numbers represent purchases by individual buyers, excluding institutional investors.

Yun says vacation home sales have helped Florida recover from the housing debacle of the last decade, since the bulk of vacation home sales are occurring in the south.

The downside, says Yun, is that the significant run up in price has probably squeezed out less affluent buyers looking for a vacation home.

Seeking rental income

Meanwhile, the trend in investment property is shifting away from flipping and more toward income.

“Steadily increasing home prices and strong rental demand appear to be giving more individual investors assurance that purchasing real estate will diversify their portfolios and generate additional income if they decide to rent out the home,” Yun said.

The NAR survey shows the median investment home buyer last year had a household income of $95,800, and most bought a detached single-family home not far from where they lived.

Forty-two percent of buyers said they made the move to gain rental income. Only 14% cited price appreciation as a main reason for the investment.

Poll explores chasm between baby boomers and millennials –

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A national poll conducted by Purdue University’s Institute for Civic Communication found millennials — Americans born between 1980 and 1998 — are expected to be the largest voting bloc in this year’s presidential election.

The survey, conducted among 1,001 adults ages 18 and older, was made up from questions created by students from the institute.

It also found that 68 percent of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — said they were worried about leaving governance of the nation to millennials.

Earl Bercot, a baby boomer, said he disagrees.

“I don’t think it’s an age group,” Bercot said. “I think it’s values. There can be people in their 90s that are wise or stupid, and there could be millennials who are very stupid or very wise. I don’t think it’s a matter of what generation you’re born in.”

Purdue student Alexandria Garner said, “I don’t think it’ll be a problem. My mom’s a baby boomer, and so they’re the ones who raised us. So I think it would be fine. Don’t worry guys!”

The survey found younger Americans — as a demographic — think the federal budget should spend more on education and environmental protection, while those 50 and older want more spending on infrastructure and defense.

The poll found 70 percent of millennials intend on voting this year.

Click here for more poll results.

The Best of the Best Anti Aging Products For Aging Baby Boomers

Aging baby boomers are determined to fight the aging process. They spend millions of dollars a year on what they perceive as the best anti aging products money can buy. They are being very short sighted in their quest for youth. Just as a well maintained car eventually breaks down, our bodies do the same. Aging is a chronic and ongoing condition we all face.

Successful aging requires planning. The baby boomer generation has made it loud and clear that they want to remain in their homes and communities as they age. Yet they ignore the most important factor that will help them achieve the goal to age successfully at home.

The home environment most boomers reside in was built for the young family. A young body can run the stairs, stand at the sink and get on a stool to reach things. These are activities that become difficult or even impossible for some as they age. Falls are the number one robber of independence of the aging body. Yes, all the exercise, good nutrition and Botox cannot help one from falling and breaking a bone.

Eventually the body slows down and being mobile can be an issue. It becomes hard to get into the bathroom. Many aging seniors stop taking baths because of a fear of falling. No matter how hard we want to stay young or we will our bodies to maintain a youthful appearance, eventually we will slow down.

So what is the best investment for successful aging at home? It is simple. Adjust your present living environment to meet the needs of your aging body. Many aging seniors end up in nursing homes or assisted living because their home environment could not accommodate their needs.

More on Investment for Successful Aging. The Best Anti Aging Products for Aging Baby Boomers.

There are simple things we do now that we take for granted. Turning a door knob or reaching for the light switch are functions that can become difficult as we age. By making small changes in your present environment, over time, you can make your home livable for your future needs.

If you are going to plan any remodeling or home improvements, it is important to seek the advice of a certified aging in place specialist. These are individuals that utilize the basics of universal design house plans to meet the needs of everyone: the disabled, the aging and the young. They will assist you in making the right choices for your needs.

There are eight factors to keep in mind when you are considering making changes to your home. I will cover four of them here.

Safety is the first and foremost concern as we age. You cannot prevent accidents from occurring, but you can create an environment that will decrease the chances of one occurring. The concept of universal design considers this in every area of the home from the entrance way to the bathroom and kitchen.

Mobility is a factor as we age. Some will require walkers or a cane; others may require a wheelchair for mobility. Getting in and out of the home is always a priority that does not change as we age. How we get in and out of the house does become a problem.

Mobility in the house is also a factor one must consider when considering remaining in the home as you age. Using stairs, using the bathroom for toileting and personal care, cooking and preparing food can become difficult as we age. Addressing the home environment and making changes using universal design concepts will assure successful aging in place.

Bathroom accessibility is a key factor. For many, as we age we will require other assistance from a care giver with our personal care needs. Safety and accessibility to allow one to be as independent as possible is the goal for this room of the house. Simple changes such as grab bars, hand held shower heads and scald guards on the faucets are benefits the entire family can enjoy.

Yes, aging baby boomers, the best anti aging products to invest in are the products and changes to your home that will promote independence, safety and security for you as you age. Unlike most anti aging products these products work and are a key for successful aging.

Active Living Communities Hold Great Benefits For Baby Boomer Seniors

When its time to retire, where would you rather spend your golden years? In one of those nursing homes like the ones that you always hated to visit when you were a kid and had to go see grandma; or in one of the new breed of active living communities for today’s modern seniors?

If you are like the millions of baby boomers just starting the retirement part of their lives, then you surely answered that you would prefer one of the senior retirement communities for active adults. You have spent most of your life being active and there is no reason why you should have to stop now.

Many of these new retirement communities are centered around a particular sport like golf. Trilogy Homes are usually like this, with a big golf course in the middle of them. But there are some that are centered around activities like horseback riding and the stables are the centerpoint of the communities.

Others like the ones that Del Webb builds feature a variety of activities so that pretty much no matter what you enjoy doing, you can find it at one of their developments.

The active adults communities are often gated and provide 24 hour a day security. This feature alone has convinced many people to move to one of these retirement villages because then they have an added level of protection in their homes.

Because of the security features at these places, many of the residents are able to relax completely and feel safe in their communities. Not that everybody moved there from dangerous neighborhoods, but it is nice to know that you are basically living in a small town. And you have your own onsite private security force to help make sure that your small retirement town stays nice and safe for you.

This is an advantage that not everyone enjoys anymore, to be able to go out for a stroll around the village at night without having to worry that you will run into any problems while you are simply out taking your walk. In the long run, it’s probably almost impossible to stay completely safe anywhere, but the fact you have an extra layer of folks watching out for your in your retirement village can bring a lot of extra peace and happiness.

Retirement used to spell the end of things for a lot of people, and now it does not. What it really means these days is that if you move to one of these active living communities, you are really beginning a whole new chapter in your life. And that is fantastic benefit.

Baby Boomers and the At-Home Business

Baby boomers have a lot of life and business experience to bring to whatever we do these days. We’ve already had jobs and careers, we’ve raised families-and let’s not forget all of the hard work we did changing people’s expectations about what’s possible for women and minorities!

Now, many Boomers are entering a period of our lives where we’re questioning what we might want to do next. We know that job security went the way of the dodo many years ago, and that corporations are no more loyal to us than we should be to them. The financial services industry has failed us, and many of us think that our government is failing us, too.

At any rate, Boomers are well aware that we aren’t going to have the luxury of guaranteed pensions to draw from as we enter the next years of our lives.

And all of this is where starting a home business comes in. Depending on the kind of home business Boomers choose, we can have the freedom we’ve been dying to trade our corporate jobs to have. At the same time, we become the ones responsible for our own success. We don’t have to worry whether or not our jobs will be history tomorrow, because we’ve become the boss!

That said, you’ve found this article because you’re probably a member of the Baby Boom generation and you’re at least interested in checking out home businesses. With that in mind, here’s a rundown on the kinds of home businesses you can own:

  • Franchises. There are home franchises out there that cost far less money to start than opening a brick-and-mortar franchise, and some of them will still give you the freedom to set your own schedule instead of being on your customers’ schedules. But be careful-one kind of home franchise, commercial cleaning franchises, are well-known for having a lot of questionable business practices.
  • You can also do service work from home-everything from sewing to opening a childcare center. If you’re a Boomer woman who has chosen homemaking and being a mother as your career, you may want to think about this opportunity. You’re going to have some up-front costs in terms of getting licensing if you work with children or with food, but the fun and profit you can earn may well be worth it!
  • Do you do arts and crafts? Have your friends sworn they’ve purchased items that were half as good as what you’re doing in your spare time? Boomers are lucky-we have the Internet, and you can use the Internet to open up your own Etsy store to turn your hobby into a business.
  • In fact, you can own a lot of different kinds of Internet businesses without having to leave the comfort of your home! Boomers have expertise, and we can sell that expertise online in the form of everything from instructional videos to e-books. But that’s not the only kind of Internet business that Boomers can do. You may choose to market a company’s product through an affiliate relationship or direct marketing, for example. And the best part is an Internet business is among the least expensive businesses you can start!
  • Finally, if you love people and are passionate about a certain product line, you can go into old-style network marketing-demonstration parties and selling products person-to-person. And these days you can even do network marketing online and reach out to huge markets!

The point here is that we Baby Boomers have a wealth of experience to bring to our own businesses. At the same time, creating at least a second income stream has never been more important than it is today.

If you’re one of my fellow Baby Boomers, don’t let today’s economy get you down. After all, we’ve seen recessions before, haven’t we? But if you’re creative and willing to put some consistent effort into it, a home business will at least give you a second stream of income-and at best, it will free you from an uncertain corporate job and give you the freedom you’ve been craving. I know-I have an at-home business, and I’m having the time of my life!

Baby boomers, are you fit for everyday life? – Chicago Tribune

Old age isn’t what it used to be.

“Our expectations have changed from dying at 75 to living well into our 90s and even to 100,” says Robin Robertson, a gym owner and trainer in Bellingham, Wash., who specializes in fitness for those 55 and older. “We could all use tips on how to make those years healthy and vibrant rather than burdensome.”

Between 1980 and 2010, the number of 100-year-olds increased 66 percent. Baby boomers are now ages 52 to 70. By 2029, more than 20 percent of Americans will be over 65.


It’s not how long we will live, but how well.

The key is maintaining functional fitness, says Dan Ritchie, who, in 2013, co-founded Functional Aging Institute, a business that teaches fitness professionals how to train mature clients. Functional fitness means movements that help you in everyday life. Think cross-body and full-body motions, bending or picking something up off the floor. The goal is to build a body capable of real-life activities.

“This has huge implications for older adults,” says Ritchie. “What do you need to do, want to do or dream of doing? You need to get groceries, empty a dishwasher, clean your house. You want to hike, cycle or play with grandchildren. Not everybody dreams of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at 70, but whatever you dream of, it will require functional abilities.”

How to make your later years robust and independent?

Exercise. Find activities you love, and do them several times per week. Incorporate strength-training and cardio.

Low-impact activity is kind to joints and promotes longevity, says Robertson, a USA Cycling Coach and author of “Healthy & Fit Body.” “We can beef up our joints through muscle and ligament strengthening. Cycling does this without impact or lateral movement.”

Lose excess weight. An overweight woman who drops as little as 11 pounds reduces the chance of getting arthritis in her knees by 50 percent. Ten pounds of excess body weight delivers an extra 20 to 30 pounds of stress to your knees with every step.

Change your view of aging. Aging isn’t bad; it’s natural. Think of the positives, Ritchie says: You don’t do the stupid stuff you did when you were 25; you can enjoy grandchildren; and you can focus on what’s important to you, such as charities or volunteering.

Take responsibility. You control exercise, eating, stress, sleep. Is your trajectory of aging leading to frailty or independence?

It’s never too late to start, Ritchie says. “But that doesn’t mean you should wait! We can get you fit at 60, but if you’ve taken care of yourself from 50 to 60, it’s a whole lot easier.”

Ritchie tells this story:

“A 79-year-old came to us last year. He wanted to hike Son Doong Cave in Vietnam with his son-in-law and grandson. It’s one of the largest caves in the world, and you get to its entrance via a six-hour hike through virgin jungle. If you don’t do well on the jungle hike, tour operators don’t let you go into the cave. This 79-year-old was fit but lacked balance and coordination, so we helped him train to achieve it before the trip.

“When they arrived at the cave entrance, the 79-year-old did not go into the cave. But it wasn’t him; it was the lack of fitness in his 49-year-old son-in-law. The younger man had struggled with shortness of breath on the hike, and his father-in-law wouldn’t go in without him.

“It wasn’t age; it was functional capacity.”

Functional fitness supports life’s activities, including strength and balance. Instead of using a weight machine that works one motion in one plane, seek complex training movements that engage multiple joints, Robertson advises. Stay fit enough to get out of a chair without using the chair arms.

“If we don’t stay active, we lose muscle,” she says. “If we get weaker, we become vulnerable to injury. If we get injured, we lose motivation to do what we used to enjoy. Fear of falling is huge as we get older.”

Robertson regularly sees clients use diet and exercise to reduce or eliminate medication for diabetes or high blood pressure, and employ strength training to avoid or delay knee or hip replacement.

Others improve quality of life. Husband and wife Mike Addison, 72, and Marcela Berg, 79, who moved to Bellingham in 2014, built a no-ledge shower in their home because they anticipated future entry via wheelchair. At that time, Marcela wouldn’t shower without Mike in the room, in case she fell. She expected leg strength and balance to lessen further as she aged. “I thought I’d be on a slow downhill slide. But it didn’t happen that way, because I joined this gym! Now I walk to the bathroom and take a shower by myself.”

Marcela used to clutch Mike’s arm as she shuffled into the gym. After nine months of functional training, she regained the ability to walk confidently alone. She can do squats, and lift both arms straight overhead, abilities that had deteriorated. Marcela says frequent social events at this facility add an emotional lift. “All of it comes together to maintain quality of life.”

Mike credits the success of his 2015 knee replacement to exercise. Now post-surgery, he can perform deep squats and walk 5 miles without fatigue. At one point, he and a similar-age friend were loading wood. “He couldn’t lift it, but I lifted the wood, no problem. And he’s bigger than I am! That encourages me to continue exercising.”

The number of Americans 62 and older is growing, with most of the increase expected by 2030. Plus, Americans ages 62-plus have a net worth 40 percent higher than that age group did 25 years ago. “There’s a gigantic need for fitness,” Ritchie says. “They don’t want to get old and wait to die. They want to go on adventures, live life to the fullest. And they can afford to — if they have the functional capacity. That’s key.”

Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy is a freelance writer.


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