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Dealing with Aging Parents/Loved Ones

Each of us are called in many ways to be of assistance to our parents and loved ones as the aging process increasingly becomes an issue. As time passes, the call to assist your parents or loved ones who now require additional in-home care is one of the many challenges you will face as you look to find ways to “maintain” a safe home environment. Let me begin by telling you that I’m dealing with aging parent issues almost on a daily basis. There is very little I haven’t experienced with my parents who we (family members) have decided to do everything we can to keep them in their home. From contracted snowplowing and shoveling, to sibling assistance with firewood, home repairs, and other assorted home ownership issues, we feel we are doing our best to honor our parents wishes to stay in their home. The situation is even more challenging when you add the pandemic into the mix. However, there will come a time when you will begin to notice that issues within the home are being neglected which may turn into a health or safety issue. Certain daily medical needs such as the proper pill allocation are either forgotten or ignored due to certain levels of forgetfulness (dementia?) setting in. It is further exacerbated when one parent becomes the “in home caregiver” for the other which puts a definite strain upon the health of that parent who not only has their own issues, but has taken on the responsibilities for their spouse/partner. This is a very difficult situation as studies have shown that the spouse caregiver will...

Seniors Owning Pets

Elderly woman petting a dog. The combination of seniors and pets can provide wonderful benefits for our older citizens.  Most folks who have ever had a pet are aware that animals just make us feel good.  Research tells us that only 15 minutes spent bonding with an animal can set off a chemical reaction in the brain that lowers stress hormones and increases “feel-good” hormones.  The immediate result is slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and a reduction in stress.  Over time, it appears pet & people interactions can improve physical, mental and emotional health.   This can be especially powerful for seniors and pets. Physical Benefits Caring for a pet requires some physical activity, whether walking or brushing a dog, playing with a cat or getting up to feed the fish and clean its tank.  Regular movement has many health benefits beyond improving mobility.   Exercise has been shown to help manage or even prevent age-related illnesses and elevate your mood. Research has shown that pet owners generally visit the doctor less often, take less medication, recover from illness faster, and cope better with stress. Mental Benefits Being with a pet provides mental and memory stimulation.  Pets live in the moment and can help keep us focused on the present. Planning for the needs of a pet gives our lives added meaning and purpose.  Petting an animal has a calming effect that has been shown to decrease agitation in folks with dementia and just makes seniors and pets feel better.  Cat & dog snuggling. Emotional Benefits Connecting with an animal can reduce loneliness and bring about a renewed interest in...
Eating Well

Eating Well

Eating well is important at any age, but even more necessary for seniors, who need to be aware of their changing nutritional needs. Adequate nutrition is necessary for your health, quality of life and vitality. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, many seniors are not eating as well as they should, which can lead to poor nutrition or malnutrition. Healthy eating begins with you! Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age. For example, as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables Choose foods with the deepest, darkest color you can find.  Their natural color means they’re loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries, red raspberries, and dark cherries are ideal fruit.  Dark, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are vegetable powerhouses. You can have them all year because the nutrients in frozen food are just as good as in fresh.  Just be sure to check your diet with your doctor if you are on any medications like blood thinners that may limit your intake of certain food types. Dairy Dairy is a very important food group for eating well as you get older because it’s a great source of...

Assistive Devices

Assistive Devices for Seniors In recent years, we’ve seen a wide array of assistive devices for seniors become available.  Some solutions are very simple and others are very high-tech.  The good news is that there are a lot of options.  And the not-so-good news is that there are a lot of options.  It can be difficult to know what assistive devices exist that may be helpful.  And it’s a challenge to know how to choose the right solution. The goal of assistive devices for seniors is to increase capabilities that improve independence, and safety.  Therefore, assistive devices cover a broad range of activities from communication to mobility, personal cares to household chores. Communication The ability to communicate keeps you from becoming isolated.  Advances in technology have given us many ways to connect and stay in touch.  Simpler, large button cell phones are one option.  Computers and tablets have voice recognition for those with difficulty manipulating a mouse or keyboard.  If you have difficulty speaking, there are portable tablets that can be customized with pictures or phrases that you use most often. Assistive devices for the hearing impaired include closed caption telephones and TVs.  Hearing aids come in many forms.   Many hearing aids are now able to tap into  hearing loops in public venues.  Personal sound amplifiers attach to almost any electronic device, which brings you clearer music and dialogue. Mobility Mobility devices cover everything from canes to wheelchairs and stairlifts.  The variety in walker designs is staggering.    Wheel chairs can be manual and basic, electric and complicated, or something in-between.   You can get crutches, orthotics, a walker/cane hybrid or a...

Scams Against Seniors

Scams Against Seniors Seniors are often targeted by con artists. Most scams against seniors are conducted through the phone, mail or internet.   Realizing many seniors may have money, but are less tech savvy, criminals see opportunity.  Women over 60 who live alone are a prime target for scammers. The FBI’s Common Fraud Schemes webpage  provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud. Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Scams against seniors are especially common because: Senior citizens are most likely to have savings, to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists. Older folks were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Scammers exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up. Older Americans are less likely to report a scam.  They don’t know who to report it to, and may be ashamed at having been scammed.  They don’t want relatives to think they can no longer handle their own financial affairs. Financial scams can be difficult to prosecute, so they’re considered a “low-risk” crime for the con artist. With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are hard to trace. Senior citizens are more interested in products promising better health and vitality. With on-going development of new cures and vaccinations, it is easy to convince a hopeful target that a “miracle product” may do what is claimed. Telemarketing scams against seniors Scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who...

CAREGIVERS: CHOOSE WISELY

CAREGIVERS NEED TO CHOOSE WISELY Caregivers have options for giving care.   It is important to choose wisely to insure the best and safest way to deliver that care. You, as the caregiver, may be a neighbor, friend, or family member who is able to provide some caregiving for free.  Or maybe you receive a stipend or some form of hourly compensation.  While this arrangement may work for a while, it may not be a good long-term solution. GETTING PAID Choose wisely:  While you didn’t mind helping out a bit for free, the need for your help may have increased.  Now you may be sacrificing other income to provide care and need to ask for payment to cover your own expenses.   Payment arrangements between family and friends can be tricky.  So in order to have a clear understanding of expectations and compensation, it is best to put everything in writing.   A professional caregiving agency will have a signed agreement for services to make sure everyone is on the same page. TRAINING Choose wisely: Perhaps your friend or family member needed only occasional assistance with cleaning, a meal or companionship.  Now that need may have grown to include help with walking, dressing and bathing.  At this point, you may be feeling out of your element and concerned about the safety of your loved one and yourself.   Therefore, a wise choice may be to work with an agency that can provide training in best practices. BENEFITS Choose wisely:  Working for yourself sounds attractive, but it can have its drawbacks.  If you get hurt at work, who will pay for your medical expenses? ...