Healthy Aging: Tips For Coping With Change

Healthy aging means continually reinventing yourself, finding new things you enjoy, learning to adapt to change, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones. Unfortunately, for many, aging brings anxiety and fear instead. How will I take care of myself? What if I lose my spouse? What is going to happen to my mind? However, many of these fears stem from myths about aging that are exaggerated or simply untrue. The truth is that you are stronger and more resilient than you may think.

As you age, there will be periods of both joy and stress. It’s important to build your resilience and find healthy ways to cope with challenges. This ability will help you make the most of the good times and keep your perspective when times are tough.

  • Focus on the things you’re grateful for. The longer you live, the more you lose. But as you lose people and things, life becomes even more precious. When you stop taking things for granted, you appreciate and enjoy what you have even more.
  • Acknowledge and express your feelings. You may have a hard time showing strong emotions, perhaps feeling that such a display is inappropriate and weak. But burying your feelings can lead to anger, resentment, and depression. Don’t deny what you’re going through. Find healthy ways to process your feelings, perhaps by talking with a close friend or writing in a journal.
  • Accept the things you can’t change. Many things in life are beyond our control. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems. Face your limitations with dignity and a healthy dose of humor.
  •  Look for the silver lining. As the saying goes, ―What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.‖ When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
  • Take daily action to deal with life’s challenges. When challenges seem too big to handle, sweeping them under the carpet often appears easier. But ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; it allows both the problem and your anxiety to build. Instead, take things one small step at a time. Even a small step can go a long way to boosting your confidence and reminding you that you are not power-less.
Reprinted with permission from Helpguide.org © 2001-2010. All rights re-served. For more informa-tion, visit www.Helpguide.org. To read this article in it’s en-tirety, go to http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_aging_seniors_aging_well.htm

Fun in the Sun

No one likes to stay cooped up indoors all the time, and that goes for elderly individuals as well. Providing a well-rounded and stimulating environment to the elderly should be one of the tasks of caregivers in a variety of scenarios. Whether caring for loved ones at home or as part of your job as a professional, elderly activities outdoors are one of the best ways to get elderly parents moving, active, and engaged in the world around them.

Outdoor Basics

It’s not always easy to convince your elderly parent to get outdoors and do something. Fear of falling, temperature extremes, and difficulty walking or with mobility are some of the most common reasons that elderly individuals give their care-givers for not wanting to go outside.

However, whenever possible, and with very careful consideration, do your best to encourage your parent to get outside and engage in elderly activities outdoors that not only help to stimulate the brain, but keep muscles strong and emotions engaged. When coming up with elderly activities outdoors, make sure they’re elderly friendly and doable. For example, some of the best things to do outdoors with your parent include visiting: Libraries, Zoos, Parks, Museums, Senior Centers, or Natural wilderness drives. Taking your parent outdoors doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Packing a picnic lunch and taking your mom to the park is a great way to not only spend quality time together, but to let her enjoy the feel of warm sunshine on her skin, the breeze on her face, and the emotional and mental stimulation of watching children play, people jogging, walking dogs, and otherwise interacting with one another.

When taking an elderly parent outdoors, it’s essential that caregivers remember the temperature may be felt differently for an elderly individual as opposed to younger people because the skin thins, and medications may alter and individuals’ sensations regarding heat or cold. Take along an extra sweater and even lap blankets to be on the safe side and routinely (but not nagging) ask your parent if he or she is comfortable.

Mobility Issues

Many elderly activities, recreation or games are determined by the physical capabilities and stamina of a parent. Some elderly parents are still able to get around quite well, while others are relegated to wheelchairs. Choose activities and games that cater to the capabilities as well as the endurance of a parent. Never insist that your elderly parent participate in outdoor activities, but gently encourage such efforts. Whether your parent seems perfectly content sitting in the backyard, make sure to offer various outings on a weekly basis. Sometimes, it might take the caregiver a bit of cajoling to convince elderly person to venture outside of the yard or neighborhood, but the rewards of doing so will pay off.

When planning outings, just make sure that the elderly individual will be protected and safe in every environment, whether indoors or out. Ask your elderly parent what he or she used to do when outside and see if you can adapt activities and recreation around those earlier preferences.

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Elder Care Abuse Awareness

Elder abuse, neglect, and
exploitation can occur at the hands of anyone that interacts with him or her.
It is important for those who care to know the signs of abuse, either physical
or psychological.
Physical
abuse
includes
beating, hitting, shoving, neglect and other acts that can cause harm to an
elder’s fragile body. Look for physical signs such as: bruises, abrasions, poor
coloration, malnutrition, dehydration, and soiled clothing or bed. Psycho-logical
abuse
includes verbal berating, harassment, intimidation, threats of punishment,
demeaning comments or isolation from family and friends. Look for these signs
of psychological abuse: fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, isolation, or
depression. He or she may withdrawal, be non-responsive or hesitate to talk
openly. Another common way the elderly can be abused is through financial or
material exploitation
. This includes improper use of an elder’s funds,
property or assets. The abuser could cash the elder’s checks without
permission, forge his or her signatures, force or deceive the elder to sign a
document or use an ATM/debit card without permission.
To report
Abuse call: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) and to learn more call
1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337).
How Prevent
Identity Theft
NEVER:
1. Carry a Social Security card
2. Give personal information
over the telephone
3. Carry multiple credit cards
4. Print Identification numbers
on checks
5. Answer
unsolicited email that asks for your personal information.
ALWAYS:
1. Review statements &
bills promptly
2. Shred personal mail and
information
3. Stop mail while you are on
vacation
4. Shop online only with
merchants that have se-cure websites.
5. Copy all
items in your wallet and keep with personal papers in a safe place.
Preventing Financial Exploitation
1. Use direct deposit for check
payments you receive.
2. Don’t sign blank checks
allowing another person to fill in the amount.
3. Don’t leave money or
valuables in plain view.
4. Don’t sign anything you
don’t understand.
5. Be aware of scams. If it
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Don’t pay for any prize or
send money to improve your chances to win or receive a prize.
7. Don’t give any caller your
credit card number or any other form of personal identification.
8. Don’t give anyone your ATM
access code, and cancel your ATM card immediately if it is stolen.
9. Be cautious of joint
accounts. Both parties are equal owners of the account and both have equal
access to the funds in the account.
10. Build good relationships
with the professionals who handle your money.
Advanced
Senior Solutions are members of the American Association of Daily Money
Managers and are insured and bonded in order to assist you with Bill Paying and
Financial Services. Call: 727-443-2273.

Long Distance Caregiving

Caregiving is a difficult task
in itself without adding the challenge of living a distance away from the one
being care for. The only information you receive is either when you call (which
means you have to trust when you are being told everything is fine) or when you
visit (which may not be very often).
When you are able to visit
there are some things to look out for that are signs that your parents or loved
ones are not doing as well as they have led you to believe.
1.
Check the stove top for dust, which would indicate they are no longer cooking
for themselves.
2.
Check the fridge and pantry for food that is expired, which means they are not
shopping as often as needed.
3.
Check the bathroom for a wet shower or wet towels, indicating they are still
taking showers regularly.
4. Count their pills in their
prescription bottle and compare it to the date it was filled and the quantity
prescribed which will indicate missed dosages or non-compliance.
These are
all signs that your loved one may not be managing well and is no longer caring
for themselves. You may need to take action. This could be hiring a
Professional Geriatric Care Management agency to be your loved one’s local
point of contact or hiring a homemaker / companion to help pick up groceries,
cook, clean and monitor medication compliance. The important thing is that
these decisions need to be made before everything gets out of hand. This
proactive response will prevent you from having to make hasty decisions during
an emergency and give your loved ones a better quality of life.
 Call Advanced Senior Solutions for a
consultation. 727-443-2273

Many of us take these senses for granted,

Many of us take these senses for granted, although when one ages, senses seem
to be the first thing you lose. A study of 3600 people showed that visually impaired
seniors have a greater risk of developing hearing problems and those elderly with
macular degeneration are three times more likely to have age related hearing loss
than others.

The hearing loss starts with difficulty distinguishing between speech sounds like f
and s; and between sounds like p and t. A hearing impaired person relies more on
vision as their hearing deteriorates. A person with 30% hearing loss can compensate
almost fully by lip-reading and therefore communicate without problems using their
vision; although for a visually impaired person, even small hearing problems are exacerbated.
Those with both hearing and vision deficiencies lose out on quality of life. The dual
sensory impaired person will also experience difficulty with communication. Dual
sensory impairment receive help through the following:

Awareness: Be aware that when working with someone who has one sensory deficiency,
they may also have another. It may be more difficult for those with untrained
eyes, such as family or friends to understand what the problem is. They may notice
something is “out of the ordinary” and should seek professional help.

Coordination of Services: Technical aids will give support to those with hearing loss
but some are too difficult for a person with visual impairment to use (or the other way
around). It is important to make sure what is being used to compensate for one issue,
should also help the other.

Ways to Help Your Aging Parent

As a member of the “Sandwich Generation”, whereby having an adult daughter living
at home after college due to the economy and a 12 year old son with Tourette’s,
along with managing my aging father from a distance, I truly understand the difficulty
both on a personal level as well as a professional level as a Geriatric Care Manager
Elder Care Consultant. I can only imagine how difficult this process is for those with
little or no experience in navigating through the confusing maze of health care.
In managing your aging parent, there are some recommendations to help you understand
the aging process and what you can do to help.

1. Recognize sudden changes. Quick onset of confusion or falling frequently is likely
an acute episode indicating possibly an infection, medication side effect or even a
heart attack or stroke. Be aware of their baseline behavior so you’re more in tune to
the changes that occur.

2. Find the source of the decline. To often, a person with dementia symptoms are
mis-diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Some easily treatable medical conditions such as
urinary tract infection, plugged ears, vitamin B12 deficiency or underactive thyroid
can mimic the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Note the ways the decline has
presented itself such as short term memory impairment, loss of appetite, or poor hygiene
and how long these changes have been going on. Share this information with
their physician at their next appointment.

3. Familiarize yourself with their medicines. Note medication name, dosage, frequency,
what it’s prescribed for and the prescribing doctor. Many times medications
are prescribed for a secondary effect rather than the most common one. Find out
about the potentially dangerous side effects to be on the alert for. Inform their doctor
of your parent’s other substance use such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and even
vitamins, supplements and nutritional drinks.

4. Curb ageist attitudes. Don’t assume all that anguish your parent is experiencing is age related. For instance left hip pain in an 87 year old may not be from age if there’s no discomfort in the right hip. Also, not every elderly person becomes depressed. And avoid saying things like “What do you expect at your age?” (Which is something my daughter says to me in jest, and I’m only pushing 50!)

5. Address the symptoms but don’t ignore the emotions. During the aging decline comes all the emotions of insecurity, fear, grief, boredom, sadness and embarrassment. Emotional distress can exacerbate dis-ease symptoms and even spark new illnesses. Uncover what causes the most stress and find solutions to help ease their concerns.

6. Maximize quality of life. Help your parent to find ways to enjoy life to its fullest and have the capability to do the things they want to do. Helping them through a problem or providing them with companionship and love. As they experience loss of loved ones coupled with their loss of some of their functional abilities, they may feel lonely or isolated. Help them meet new people and develop new interests through senior centers, adult day care or even through their local retirement or as-sisted living communities.

7. Know when to ask for help. You cannot assist your parent with the aging process alone. Your own immediate family support is a must and even with that, you may need to call for some professional guidance. 

Call us today for help 727-443-2273

Consumer Awareness WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Geriatric Care Management (GCM)
is a rapidly developing, newly recognized profession which helps
families adjust and cope with the challenges of an aging loved one.
Professional Care Manager’s
(PCMs) are advocates for seniors and disabled adults. PCM’s provide needs
assessments, screening, arranging and monitoring in-home help, counseling and
support including family conflict mediation and crisis intervention.
They assess the ability to
remain safely in the home or need for relocation. PCM’s help facilitate legal,
financial, medical and end of life services. They act as liaisons for families
who live far away from their elderly or disabled loved ones and will alert them
to any concerns that may arise. PCM’s have extensive knowledge about the
services and resources in their communities.
PCM’s hold Bachelor Degrees, Masters
Degrees, or Doctorates in a human service related field such as Gerontology,
Social Work, Psychology, or Nursing. The National Association of Professional
Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) recognizes the following credentials as
exceeding the standard of expertise in being a PCM; CMC, CCM, A-CSW &
C-SWCM. The certification exam to be a PCM is facilitated by the National
Association of Certified Care Managers (NACCM). These certifications require
testing and ongoing continuing education and peer review.
Because there are some
individuals working either independently or for a different professional and
who refer to themselves as “Care Coordinators, Care Managers or Eldercare
Consultants”, it is important for the wise consumer to ask questions when considering
hiring a true PCM.
Some of these include:
What are the credentials,
education and licenses of the Professional Care Manager?
How much experience does the
Professional Care Manager have in healthcare?
  • Are they and their staff
    Degreed, Licensed, Bonded and Insured?
  • Are they a member of the
    National and State Associations of Professional Geriatric Care Managers?
  • Can they provide references
    from professionals and previous clients/families?
  • What are the fees and costs
    for services? Do they offer a complimentary consultation?

The process should be
comprehensive and cautious when determining if the Professional Care Management
Agency or Individual has the qualifications nec-essary to work with your loved
one.
To Locate a Qualified
Professional Care Manager, call us at 727-443-2273

Top 10 Safety Tips for Seniors Living Alone

More and more seniors choose to live on their own these days. Living
independently can be very good for your mental health, but you need to
take steps to prevent accidents in your house and ensure that help can
get to you in the event it’s needed:

1. Avoid slippery conditions: Make sure floors aren’t slippery. Put down
non-slip floor mats in your bathrooms and install safety bars (also known
as „grab bars‟) in bath tubs and showers, and next to toilets. Also install
mats at the entry points to your house so floors don’t get slick on rainy
days.

2. Remove tripping hazards: Stray electrical cords, rugs that don’t lie
flat, and poor lighting are common causes of falls within the home. Make
sure your bulbs are the proper wattage and install nightlights to illuminate
your floors at night.

3. Use a medical alert system: Medical alert systems such as Safety
Watch provide affordable, one-touch access to emergency personnel.
Should you need help, simply press a button on the medical alert bracelet
or necklace and you’ll be connected with a trained care specialist through
the alert system’s intercom. There’s no need to get to a phone.

4. Get to know your neighbors: You don’t have to be best friends, but if
you and your neighbors get to know each other, you’re all more likely to
notice when something is awry. Include neighbors on your medical alert
system’s emergency contact list.

5. Test smoke alarms regularly: Your alarms only protect you if they have fresh batteries and are operating properly. Change batteries every six months.

6. Organize a daily check-in: Ask a loved-one or friend to call each day to make sure everything is okay. You can offer to do the same for them. If you don’t have anyone who you can count on to do this relia-bly, SafetyWatch offers a service to check in with you once a day.

7. Don’t place items in hard to reach places: Keep the things you need within easy-to-reach. Climbing to get to items in high places is another common cause of falls.

8. Put a lock box on your door: A lock box allows family members, friends, trusted neighbors and emergency personnel to access your home when you’re unable to get to the door.

9. Keep lists of medications, allergies and personal information in your wallet or purse: This information can be invaluable to emer-gency medical personnel when they come to your home, especially if you’re unconscious or unable to communicate.

10. Take your medical alert system on the road: Advanced Senior Solutions in conjunction with SafetyWatch now offers a medical alert system that utilizes GPS. Most medical alert systems only work within your home and have a limited range. Our location feature allows you to find where your loved-one is in real-time, using Google Maps and the AT&T Network. 

Call: 727-443-2273 for more information!

Independent Living and Assisted Living What’s the difference?

What exactly is “Independent Living”? What is the difference between that and “Assisted Living”? What sounds like a simple question to those of us who work in the industry, may seem like a mass of confusion to those of you that are exploring these options for yourself or a loved one.

While there is plenty of support in most Independent Retirement Communities such as housekeep-ing, meals, transportation, and maintenance assistance, the minute the need increases to the point where “hands on” care is needed such as physical assistance with showers, dressing, grooming, or transferring, then Assisted Living would likely be needed.

Each Community provides a different “package” of services, even if their licenses are the same. Some offer Levels of Care where certain services are included within each level and that level comes with an additional fee above and beyond room and board (base fee). Other communities offer services associated with time involved, such as 1-5 hours a week is this much, 6-10 hours a week is that much and so on. With each increase in increment of time, additional fees are added above base fee.

Ask for any additional costs such as transportation fees, utilities, laundry service or other services that may not be included in base fee. Do they have a physician that makes rounds in the building? Do they offer other mobile services such as eye doctor, podiatry, home care services, and more.

As you search for the right fit, comparing apples to apples can be a challenge. Just remember to keep it simple. Start with the basics then compare and contrast. Most importantly trust your instincts. How does each community “feel”? Talk to residents as you pass in the halls and ask how they like living there. 

Remember, this information is more important than the bricks and mortar. A beautiful building does not always make a good home! Also remember, if you’re touring on behalf of a loved one, keep in mind their likes and dislikes, not what you would like if it were you moving in.

What is the latest in aging research?

The challenging question has to do with the aging process itself. The research includes some exciting discoveries showing that genetic mutations in species that range from yeast to worms to flies to mice can extend longevity. But the ultimate question, of relevance to humans, remains unanswered.

Recently there was a report about reversing the aging process in laboratory mice. The study, supported in part by N.I.H., involved telomeres structures on the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age, causing disrupted function of the chromosomes. In mice, if you knock out the gene that encodes for an enzyme
that regulates telomere length and function, these mice over time have decreased function and
life expectancy.

Scientists used a genetic manipulation to turn the enzyme called telomerase back on in these
mice. This restored telomere function and reversed many of the signs of aging. This study gained serious
attention by suggesting an intervention that might be feasible using restoration of telomerase activity and telomere function.

Reference: “Studying Aging, and Fearing Budget Cuts” from
The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) by Milt Freudenheim
2/21/11