When it comes to choosing a dementia aged care provider, there are many factors to consider to ensure the best quality of life possible for your loved ones. There are plenty of dementia aged care providers out there that do a great job of taking care of their patient’s needs. But how do you which one’s the right one?

It’s important to take a close look at all the options available and see which dementia aged care services provide you with the most confidence in terms of the safety and overall well-being of your loved ones. This way, you’ll be at ease knowing that your close friends and family are in good hands.assisted living care

It helps to interview dementia aged care providers and ask them important questions to figure out if they best suit the needs of your loved ones. Here are 10 questions you need to ask before choosing a dementia aged care provider.

1. How long have they been providing dementia aged care

First off, it’s important to have a thorough background check on a specific dementia aged care provider by asking them how long they’ve been in the industry. While the quality of a company’s services isn’t directly linked to the length of time they’ve providing it, it helps if the company has a proven track record of success. This will help narrow down your options when choosing a dementia aged care provider for your loved ones.

If they’re new to the industry, ask a couple of their clients for feedback and see if their services meet your expectations.

2. Their philosophy on dementia care

Dementia aged care providers have different core values and beliefs when it comes to attending the needs of those with declining mental abilities. It’s important that these values are in line with your expectations in regards to caring for your loved ones. Ask them what are their key values in caring for people with dementia. You have to feel confident enough that the provider you choose will have your loved one’s best interest at all times.

3. Ask if they create a specific plan for their patients

Each patient has their own unique characteristics based on their personalities and the stage of their dementia. A well-trained dementia care provider knows this. This requires a more tailored approach to the specific needs of their patients to ensure their needs are being met accordingly. Ask your provider if they create specific plans for their patients and if they’re willing to collaborate with you to secure the well-being of your loved ones.

4. Do they have a backup plan in case of an emergency situation

Dementia care providers should have a concise back-up plan in case an emergency situation arises. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it’s also a sign that your chosen provider is always prepared to ensure the safety and security of your loved ones.

Ask your provider if they have a detailed emergency plan and what steps will they be taking when a certain situation comes up. Discuss things in detail with your provider and make sure that they’re ready to take action whenever an emergency situation happens.

5. Can they provide a reference with a similar case like your loved ones

One of the best ways to find out if a dementia care provider fits in with your expectations is by asking them if they have similar cases to your loved ones. Did they manage to improve the patient’s quality of life? Were they able to attend to the patient’s needs properly and consistently?

This will help you make a firm decision on choosing the correct provider that not only fits in with your expectations, but the needs of your loved ones as well.

6. The background and experience of their caregivers

Attending the needs of people diagnosed with dementia requires proper training and knowledge about the condition. Your provider should have professionals that have valid credentials and are well-informed in the field of dementia.

They should be able to provide the basic needs of the elderly as well as being able to adapt to your loved one’s personal traits and characteristics. Don’t be hesitant to ask your provider about the background and credentials of their caregivers so you can feel confident about the quality of service they can deliver.

Mediterranean DietThe Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world. It has been proven to lower risks for many chronic diseases. This is because it allows a person to eat more whole foods. The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of unprocessed foods. Lean protein, healthy fats and plant-based foods are central to the diet.

Choosing this diet does require a lot of discipline and dedication. But, no worries! It will be worth the effort because the Mediterranean diet provides seniors with numerous health benefits.

Check out this list of Mediterranean Diet benefits:

Healthy weight loss

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet helps seniors maintain healthy weight. Losing weight in a healthy way is also possible with the Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet provides seniors with lots of fiber and protein that keeps them fuller longer. This is just one of the many reasons why MD helps healthy weight loss. Studies also show that older adults who lost as much as 22 pounds were able to keep it off even after one year. These study findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine. In a separate study, older adults aged 55 – 80 years old not only lost weight by adhering to this diet. They were also found to have gained less fat in their midsection. The results from this study were published in the Lancet.

Helps with cancer prevention

The Mediterranean diet requires people to load up more on fresh produce. And, numerous studies have already proven that a plant-based diet helps lower cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables contain a plethora of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients help seniors have better fighting stance against cancer.Results from studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet provides significant protection from cancer. It also reduces risk for cancer and overall mortality. Nutrition obtained from this type of diet was found to help suppress the growth of cancer cells. The active compounds from foods that make up this diet also helps induce cancer cell death. Besides, the regular use of extra virgin oil provides phenolic compounds that show strong chemo-preventive effects. Loading up on fruits and vegetables can have strong protective effects against cancer. This is due to the abundance of flavonoids that inhibits inflammation. These flavonoids were also found to have strong antioxidant effects.

Leads to better heart health

Regular consumption of plant-based foods help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels among seniors. A Lyon Heart Study examined more than 600 patients who had a history of myocardial infarction. These patients who served as study respondents were aged 55-80 years old. The study showed that Mediterranean diet lowers risk for recurrent heart disease for as much as 70 percent. Another study was conducted by CARDIO2000 investigators which had 848 participants. These participants were middle aged and older adults who had unstable angina and myocardial infarction. The results showed that following a Mediterranean diet lowers their risk for acute coronary syndrome.

Lowers risk for diabetes

Seniors are more at risk of being diagnosed with diabetes than the younger population. Higher consumption of plant based foods can help a senior better manage his blood sugar level.

A study which had more than three thousand participants showed that Mediterranean diet lowers risk for diabetes. This study had participants aged 55-80 years old. After more than four years, the participants showed lowered risk for diabetes for as much as 40 percent. In this study the control group were asked to limit all types of fat. But, none of them were asked to improve their physical activity. No group was also asked to restrict their calorie intake. In other words, the lowered risk manifested was solely due to healthy dietary eating patterns.

Since the Mediterranean diet recommends consumption of healthy fats, seniors are more likely to experience satiety. This keeps them feeling fuller for a longer period of time. In turn, they are less likely to crave for more calories. Plus, this diet also limits your intake of added sugars. All these things make a senior less prone to developing the symptoms of insulin resistance.

Helps prevent Alzheimer’s

In one study, 447 healthy participants aged 55-80 years old found that those who adhered to Mediterranean diet had stronger memory function. In this study, participants were divided into three groups. The first group had the Mediterranean diet with added mixed nuts. The second group had Mediterranean diet with added olive oil every day. The third group had low-fat diet. These study participants were followed by the researchers for more than four years.

​The stronger cognitive function among Mediterranean dieters are attributed to the fact that such diet is loaded with antioxidants. The MD is also rich in anti-inflammatory agents from foods such as nuts and olive oil. These phenolic compounds work best in combating the oxidative process that take place in the brain. Thus, neurodegeneration is staved off.
A study showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk for Alzheimer’s for as much as 40 percent. This study lasted for four years and had more than two thousand participants. Those who had partial adherence to Mediterranean diet only lowered their risk for 15 percent.The results of this study was published in the Annals of Neurology.
In a separate study, experts found out that a Mediterranean diet also helps prevent the progression of mild cognitive impairment. The more that a senior adheres to this type of diet, the less likely he will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For seniors already having MCI, they lowered their risk for Alzheimer’s for 48 percent of strict adherence to the diet. Those who only had moderate adherence were only able to lower their risk of Alzheimer’s for 45 percent. This study lasted for four years.
Boosts liver health

One study revealed that a Mediterranean diet can help lower one’s risk for fatty liver disease. The said study had older and middle-aged adults as participants. Adhering to a healthy diet such as Mediterranean is very important especially to people who are genetically predisposed to having Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. For six years, the results from this study showed that hepatic fat accumulation reduced significantly. It also prevents the onset of NAFLD for as much as 26 percent.

Losing weight through healthy diet is highly recommended for people with NAFLD. Adherence to healthy eating habits such as the Mediterranean diet can have positive impacts on NAFLD. It not only reduces fat accumulation. It also lowers the severity of NAFLD among middle aged and older adults.

Making that Switch to Mediterranean Diet: Helpful Tips for Seniors

If you are worried about drastically changing your dietary pattern don’t be. There are ways to slowly ease yourself into this kind of diet. Check out the following tips.

Load up on vegetables.

Imagine holding a plate filled with brightly colored vegetables. They not only look great. But, they also taste so delicious! Not to mention the plethora of nutrients that you can get from these vegetables. These colorful veggies pack a heavy punch of anthocyanins. These anthocyanins are flavonoids that help improve cognitive function and memory in older adults. These flavonoids also work wonders in preventing bone loss and brain degeneration.

Vegetables are also powerhouses of fiber. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests that men aged 50 and older must consume at least 30 grams of fiber each day. Women of the same age are advised to consume at least 21 grams of fiber per day. This amount is not difficult to obtain if you load up on veggies everyday. Fiber is beneficial for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. High intake of fiber helps ward off colorectal cancer, constipation and hemorrhoids.

Never skip breakfast.

Remember that Mediterranean is more of a lifestyle than a diet and breakfast is an important part of it. Make sure to prepare your whole grain and fiber-filled breakfast every day. Don’t worry, with Mediterranean diet you will never run out of breakfast options. One small tortilla or a slice of whole wheat bread would mean an ounce of grains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reveals that a 70-year old woman would need to consume 5 ounces of grains every day. Men with the same age should consume 6 ounces of grains. And, whole grains are better because they contain lots of fiber. Seniors must steer clear from refined grains especially if they’re diabetic as these can only cause spikes in blood sugar.

Start loving seafood.

The Mediterranean diet recommends that people eat seafood at least two times a week. This is one good way for you to obtain your much needed omega 3 fatty acids. These omega 3s help older adults prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, these omega 3s also protect seniors against the risks of macular degeneration. Besides, it also reduces the inflammatory reaction in the body and reduced inflammatory reaction would mean great relief for seniors with rheumatoid arthritis. So, how about a salmon fillet, with salt and pepper and pan seared with a few capers? Don’t forget to garnish them with a few slices of lemon, please!

Set a meatless day once a week.

This is the day when you will forego eating meat. Your meatless day will be a day of whole grains, vegetables and beans. Try spiced lentil tacos or peppered cauliflower rice with stir-fried vegetables. You can even have oatmeal pancakes or an avocado radish salad. These are just few of the many ways to enjoy the healthy goodness of Mediterranean diet. Note that vegetarian refried beans can serve as delicious substitutes for meat. These are perfect for your tacos and burritos. Add excitement to your meatless days with recipes such as Mediterranean Millet or Greek Rice Stuffed Peppers.

Limit your intake of dairy products.

If you want to eat a dairy product, always opt for the healthier option. Older adults also need to eat enough of dairy to help them avoid bone thinning. Dairy food products are rich in calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamins A and D. These nutrients help seniors lower their blood pressure. It also reduces their risk for stroke, cancer and heart disease. But, always opt for those that are labeled with reduced-fat. Keep in mind that you need to limit your intake of saturated fats. Go for reduced-fat yogurt, milk and cheese. Unsweetened calcium fortified almond milk and soy yogurt are also wonderful additions to your daily diet.

Snack on fruits.

Eating strawberries, blueberries, apples and grapes is such a healthy way to snack. Forget about ice cream, sodas and donuts. You need to be healthy as you age! Besides, a study revealed that increased intake of fruits and vegetables help seniors lower their risk for Osteoporosis. If Greek salads no longer look so appealing to you, do not hesitate to try other fruit recipes. Honey Lime Fruit Salad is one good example that’s easy to prepare. Just mixed strawberries, blueberries and bananas with lime juice and honey. Then, sprinkle some pine nuts and your snack time will cease to be boring!

Always opt for the good fats.

Avocados, olive oil, sunflower seeds and olives are excellent sources of healthy fats. Make sure to have these rather than consuming unhealthy fats. Experts recommend that older adults must obtain up to 35 percent of their caloric intake from good fats. A 70-year-old man must limit his daily fat intake for up to 6 teaspoons of oil and fats. Women of the same age must consume not more than 5 teaspoons of these oils and fats everyday.

The best thing about a Mediterranean diet is that you don’t have to be an expert in reading nutritional labels. This is because you will be eating more of whole foods. For seniors who are just starting to adopt a Mediterranean diet, here are some helpful resources:

AgeRight.org – This site gives you all the information you need about Mediterranean diet. If you are not sure what’s best for dinner or snacks, visit this site.In this website you can also find information such as what spices to use to boost brain power.

Oldways – Here you can find information about the common foods and flavors that you can include in Mediterranean diet. Menus and tips on how to get started can also be read on this site.

The Mediterranean Dish – Check this website for more great menus and dishes that are purely Mediterranean.

Mayoclinic – Get access to different recipes for your main dishes, desserts, salads, etc that are all Mediterranean.

Hoarding DisorderDiscovering that a parent has a hoarding disorder can be very troubling. An adult child may be shocked when they see how much “stuff” an elderly parent has accumulated over the years.

Newspapers and magazines are everywhere. Each nook and cranny of the seniors home is filled with stuff from the past. Old clothes are tossed about and no longer being worn.

Elderly adults have the propensity to cling to things. These things may end up as a mass of clutter. They have a hard time letting go of things for various reasons. The reasons may range from fear of loss, anxiety, depression, to simply not knowing how to dispose the old stuff. They may also have some attached memories to items which to other people may no longer have any value, like old medicine bottles.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University report that a study shows that the presence of hoarding behavior is greater among older adults than the younger study participants. It was estimated that 4 percent of the general population has hoarding behavior. But, for people aged 55 and older, the percentage is 6.2.

What is a Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding disorder (HD) has been classified by experts to be a chronic psychiatric condition. It is characterized by persistent difficulty getting rid or letting go of possessions. People afflicted with this condition find themselves feeling too much distress about the idea of discarding items. They have this extreme urge to save everything, even trash. People with hoarding disorder find it hard to decide which items are worth keeping and what needs to be thrown away.  These difficulties lead a person to accumulate too many different kinds of items. Most of these things are supposed to be thrown away. There is such distress that comes with throwing away any item that some seniors keep everything filling not just the cellar or den, but the entire house as well. If left unabated for years, hoarders make their own homes literally uninhabitable.

Factors that Increase a Senior’s Risk for Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding is a common issue among the older population. This condition has serious impacts among the senior, family members and the community. Seniors who are living alone can be at risk of hoarding behavior. The same is true to the elderly who is living in isolation. Seniors who are diagnosed with dementia, depression and other personality disorders are also at risk of developing hoarding disorder.

Warning Signs of Hoarding in the Elderly

Clutter is all over the place.

A senior who has HD is reluctant to throw away items that do not have value. Things that don’t seem to have any financial or practical value are still worth keeping for seniors with HD. You will find it too difficult to reach the bathroom or toilet. This is because the pathway leading there is already cluttered. You have to walk really slowly to avoid tripping on any object.

Difficulty organizing things.

If your senior has trouble organizing things, help him do it. But, if he refuses to have them organized and insists it must be left that way, then it should serve as a warning. Closets, kitchen cupboards, basements and attics have disorganized things.

Spaces are wall-to-ceiling filled.

Homes of people with hoarding disorder will mostly have rooms filled with junk. But, some seniors are really good at hiding their hoarding behavior. The den and cellars have become unusable. Opening the door to each room can be difficult because there’s too much stuff inside. They excessively save anything to the point of drowning in their own clutter.

Unusable furniture.

One sign of an elderly having a hoarding disorder is that his furniture in the house cannot be used anymore. This is because it is already filled with so much stuff. If you find it impossible to sit on your elderly parent’s chair or sofa, be alarmed. Kitchen counters and tables can also be filled with items. This is a sign that hoarding has reached a different level now.

Dirt and stench are everywhere.

A little dirt and stench can be normal especially if the senior has become too sick to clean his own place. But, if dirt and stench are caused by years of accumulated trash, then it’s a different story. The kitchen, toilet and almost every area of the house does not smell good. The refrigerator is also filled with expired and spoiled foods. These are signs that the senior is not acknowledging the presence of a problem.

Living with too many animals.

Some seniors might tend to adopt more pets than what they are truly capable of taking care. Animal feces and food wastes are adding to the foul smelling and dirt inside the house.

Unpaid bills and lost documents.

Another sign of hoarding behavior is unpaid bills. The clutter and lack of organization at home makes it hard for seniors to see bills or any documents that warrant their attention. They have amassed too many letters over the years. This is why finding the most recent one is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Excessive collecting of items that have no value.

Hoarding is much like a person who loves collecting items – but is taken to the extreme. Thus, collections may range from restaurant napkins, empty water bottles, flower vases, etc. Others love to collect coupons but never had the chance to use them all.

No Visitors are Allowed Inside.

Some seniors who are good at hiding their skeletons in the closet would firmly say no to visitors. If their children wanted to see them, they prefer to meet up somewhere else. They don’t want others to know that they are hoarding tons of items and filling their house with it.

A Hoarding Disorder is A Huge Elephant in the Room

In most cases, a hoarding behavior can be a huge elephant in the room. We know the stuff is there, but no one is paying attention to it. The key here is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Failure to acknowledge the existence of a problem may end up with negative impacts to the senior’s mental health.

There are seniors who are slow in recognizing the hoarding problem. The disorganization tends to push seniors to lose the important items, while they keep the unimportant ones. In turn, serious problems tend to creep up.

The Dangers of Hoarding

Living with old stuff may attract mold and mildew which may cause several health problems. Clutter can also impact family relationships. Adult children may become anxious about the thought of having such a big mess as an inheritance.

A home extremely crammed with different items increase a senior’s risk for falls. In most cases, a hoarder’s home is always found to be fire and health hazard. If nothing is done to address the issue, hoarding can make healthy functioning impossible on a daily basis.

Factors That Trigger Hoarding Behavior in Seniors

Hoarding disorder is linked with alcohol dependence, schizotypal personality disorder and paranoia. Those who have pre-existing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder also face higher risk for hoarding.

Those who suffer from excessive physical discipline before the age of 16 are also more likely to develop hoarding behavior in adulthood.

Helping An Elderly with Hoarding Disorder

Help the senior acknowledge the issue.

The biggest obstacle in addressing the hoarding issue is admitting that there is a problem in the first place. When a person denies the hoarding problem, it will not make things disappear. The problem may only get worse. The key here is to be open, frank, and honest. As a caregiver or adult child, tell the senior person about the problem and solve the issue together. The senior may not be aware or he may deny the existence of a hoarding problem. Some seniors are also not aware about the potential dangers of hoarding old stuff.   The awareness can get the senior realize and help solve the problem in the process. It is best to plan out how to tell the senior about the problem.

Seek proper intervention.

The hoarding behavior may be a sign of mental illness. It is best to consult a therapist to see whether there is a problem. As an adult child of the senior, there should be a concern regarding the attitude and approach of the senior towards the hoarding issue. Hoarding stuff is not normal at any age. The senior may be having stress and anxiety issues that remain undetected. With proper intervention, one can put a lid on the senior’s hoarding habits.

You can also contact a hoarding intervention specialist.  These are people who have gained expertise in helping people with hoarding behaviors. They can help an elderly change his perception to his accumulated stuff. They do this so that seniors find joy and fulfillment not in the acquisition of material things. With the help of a hoarding specialist, seniors are able to overcome the underlying cause of their hoarding behavior. If the underlying cause or reason is not properly dealt with, the hoarding behavior will only be repeated. The result would be frustration and hopelessness, instead of regaining a normal life.

Use the right approach.

Hoarding is a sensitive matter. Approach is everything. It is not just a physical issue, but it may be a mental or behavioral issue as well. This is the reason why professional help must be sought. They can help address underlying problems and find a permanent solution to the problem.

Address the clutter.

The clutter should be addressed quickly. Otherwise, it may lead to several health hazards. There are communities that can help with the hoarding issues among seniors. A special hoarding cleaning company can help get rid of the stuff that accumulated over the years. There is a need to address the mess and to eliminate the stuff properly in the most sanitary way. Not all cleaning companies are able to clean out such kind of clutter. This is the reason one needs to talk to a special cleaning company about the situation. There could be cleaning companies that can also get rid not just of the clutter. They also have specialised equipment and chemicals that can remove pathogens accumulated over the years. It is best to hire a company that can provide total cleaning through effective and discreet service.

Hoarding situations can be cleaned out. It is something that can be addressed properly, with the proper guidance. Make sure the disposal is safe and sanitary. This way the problem will not become worse than it is.

Do some research.

Research is an essential piece of action for caregivers and adult children. As an adult child or caregiver, it helps to do some research on how to approach the problem. There are tons of studies online about senior hoarding. If a person develops a better understanding on the hoarding behavior, it will help him how to approach the problem.

Doing research will help caregivers and family members better understand the problem. Hoarding is a serious problem. The caregiver or the adult child should be aware about this. Researching about the problem may help in solving it without causing further stress to the senior. Addressing the problem with the right approach can go a long way towards resolving the issue sooner than expected.

Treatment for Seniors with Hoarding Behavior

Medications

More and more experts are now looking at Hoarding Disorder as a unique mental health disorder. To date, more research is being conducted to be able to find the best treatment for this condition. The use of medications have been proven effective in about two-thirds of people who have this condition. These are the same medications used for treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Two CBT techniques that were found to show promising results among seniors are Cognitive Rehabilitation and Exposure Therapy. These techniques help seniors power up their decision-making skills. Their ability to plan and solve problems are also improved using these techniques.  It is also through CBT that their unrealistic fears of tossing things out are being challenged.

Retirement is not just about traveling. It is also not just about watching TV at home while waiting for grandkids to visit. Instead, retirement can be a time to explore new things and that can include going back to school.

Retirement gives seniors the opportunity to pursue goals that were not feasible during their working years. After all, they don’t have to worry about task deadlines in the office. This is the best time to learn something new and experience opportunities that they may have been too busy to pursue in their younger years.

Benefits of Going Back to School for Seniors

This is why a lot of seniors are now considering the thought of going back to school once again. The stimulation of  intensive intellectual immersion is invigorating. Going back to school allows seniors to obtain benefits that their pre-retirement life did not provide. Others simply choose to study for the love of learning.

back to school seniors

To provide more opportunities for socialization.

Seniors will have the opportunity to enjoy events hosted by their chosen college and university. They can take part in sporting events or watch concerts for free. They can also have the chance to sit down in many conferences and conventions afforded to students. They can also have access to athletic facilities, libraries, etc. Things like being able to go to the campus coffee shop with a classmate can already be a wonderful experience for seniors.

To share their wisdom.

Some seniors enjoy the thought of being in a classroom with many younger students. Some professors also like their classrooms to have retirees as students. This is because seniors have knowledge that they can share with their younger students. The best thing about it is that much of the information that seniors can share is usually proven by time and experience. Besides, the presence of seniors inside the classroom adds vitality to it. They are never afraid to ask questions or share their funny experiences.

To enjoy a second career.

For many seniors, retirement is not just about saying goodbye to work days. It can also be about welcoming a new career. A Merrill Lynch study showed that an astonishing  72 percent of older adults aged 50 and older want to work after retirement. The study also showed that years before retirement, these older adults are already taking steps for post-retirement careers. Most of them also prefer to take a break from work for an average of two and a half years before starting a new career once again. And, to make them more capable of launching a new career, they decide to further their studies.

To continue earning.

Finishing a course will help increase a senior’s chances of getting hired. Their decades of experience already makes them a walking reservoir of wisdom. However, a second degree will prove to help become a more valuable candidate for the new career they’re hoping to get.

To gain more confidence.

Sometimes, along with aging aging comes a dwindling self-confidence. Some seniors have low confidence even if they are rich in experience. The presence of younger applicants trying to win the same job they want can be intimidating.  But, with a newly earned degree, their confidence and self-worth are improved. This makes them more prepared to venture into a new career despite their age. Success tends to bring more success.

To update one’s skills.

Since the economy is moving towards a forward direction, a senior’s skills must also follow suit. Many workers struggle to get promoted because their skills are already outdated. Once skills are updated, a senior is less likely to feel anxious that their dream second job will be lost to a younger applicant. Besides, there is no doubt that updating one’s skills is crucial to this ever fast changing world we live in. Learning advanced skills affords seniors more options and opportunities to keep pace with workplace changes.

To stave off signs of cognitive decline.

Education and occupation are two factors that greatly prevent cognitive decline among seniors. When the brain is constantly stimulated it is less likely to decline. In other words, you have to constantly use it so you don’t lose it. Keep in mind that new brain growth is still possible even when you are already in your senior years. A study showed that performing activities that keep the brain mentally engaged helped ward off cognitive impairment in people aged 70 and older. Working on a computer and joining activities that provide socializing opportunities are great examples.

Ways for Seniors to Save on School Costs

Luckily, there are many colleges and universities offering free education to seniors. This way, seniors don’t have to just sit on the sidelines. If earning your Masters or Ph.D. seemed to be too elusive during your working years, being retired will give you more chances to make it a reality. But, for seniors who do not want to strain their budget while they pursue their studies, check out the following tips:

Audit classes for free or minimum fee.

Audit classes are those that you can attend for no credit at all. It does not fulfill any degree requirements. In other words, you will just attend the class without the benefit of getting a grade. What you will gain from these classes would be self enrichment. Others do so for the purpose of academic exploration. In many colleges or universities, audit classes are offered on a space-available basis only. If you choose to enroll in it you have to seek approval from the instructor and from the dean. Some schools offer audit classes for free. Others will ask you to pay credit fees as if you are a regular student. So, if you are on a tight budget, it is best to look for a school that offers it for free. The best thing about taking audit classes  that you will have the chance to learn more without the pressure of submitting requirements and exams.

In Florida, free audit classes are offered to senior residents. One requirement would be they are residents of Florida for at least a year. Seniors may inquire about this at the University of Central Florida. Although full-time regular students are a priority, seniors can still be in these classes whenever there are extra seats.

Obtain senior citizen tuition-waiver.

There are colleges which offer retirees free courses. For example, in Massachusetts residents aged 60 and above may enroll in any undergraduate and graduate courses. In the University of Massachusetts, tuition fees are free but seniors may need to pay for other fees. In Kentucky, senior residents can enroll in any state-supported school without the need to pay for tuition fee. They can also have 50 percent discount on books and other school materials at the campus bookstores.

Be a member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Members of the OLLI aged 50 years old and above can have access to different kinds of benefits. These benefits vary depending on the school where the senior choose to enroll. Some of these would include access to different OLLI courses and free access to libraries in all UC campuses. It also gives seniors the chance to join OLLI national and international trips.

Take online courses.

Seniors who prefer to be home-bodies once they’ve retired, may take courses online. This way, they won’t have to leave the house in order to take on more learning. EdX and Coursera are examples of online schools that offer specializations and other courses to all regardless of age. The lessons and learning materials are usually provided by professors from reputable universities.

Obstacles to Overcome in Pursuing Further Studies

Of course being in school as a senior is not all a bed of roses. You may also meet some obstacles and challenges. But, rest assured that none of these are insurmountable.

Fear of discrimination.

Some seniors find it intimidating to be in school and be surrounded with younger people. Many seniors have this first impression that their younger classmates don’t want to befriend them. If others make you feel like you don’t belong in that school or class, ignore them.

Problems meeting requirements

Some seniors are required to take up certain subjects or courses before they can qualify for the school’s basic entry requirements. Prerequisites are a part of the education process for all students. Often times prerequisites can be fulfilled at Community Colleges at a reduced cost.

Declining study skills

Some seniors who want to earn a diploma after retirement may struggle to overcome their study skills. They like their chosen course but it’s just that their study skills are no longer as efficient as it were in their younger years.

Lack of funds

Even if you are only auditing a class, it can still cost you some money. This is true especially of schools who still require seniors to pay tuition even if the senior will just be auditing the class. Besides, even if the tuition is free you still need to spend something for transportation. Not to mention the fact that a cup of joe in campus coffee shops are not for free.

As mentioned earlier, no obstacles are insurmountable. Below are some tips to help you overcome some obstacles when going back to school.

Tips for Seniors to Overcome the Challenges of Studying

Go for it no matter what.

If you are really determined about continuing your education in retirement then go for it. Never let anything get in the way of your dream of earning such degree. Remember that the rewards of studying go beyond what that diploma affords. It can make your life so colorful. It makes your retirement years so rewarding and fulfilling. When they ask you to take prerequisite classes, go for it. Remember that its benefits far outweigh all the difficulties that you may encounter. Talk to guidance staff and course professors to gain first-hand information about the course that you plan to take. This way, you will have a heads-up of what your chosen course entails.

Learn to cope.

Don’t get affected by 20 year olds looking at you as if you don’t have the right to be in the same school as them. Remember that you are there because the school is allows you to be there and likely your tax dollars have contributed to the success of that school.  You are there because you are qualified. So, ignore those stereotypes and never let it get in the way of your dream of earning that degree.

Work on your study skills again.

Remember that studying is a skill. This means that there are many ways to improve should you find yourself falling short of such skill. Explore the internet and discover ways to improve your study skills. Figure out the way you learn best. Record and re- listen to lectures, organize study groups, make flash cards and see your instructor during office hours. Almost all programs offer study labs where advanced students are available for free to help other students. Often students will do their homework in a lab where there is someone readily available to help if needed. Lastly, working with a hired tutor can give your study skills a boost.

Start saving for your school days.

While you are still waiting for scholarship or loan grant, start saving. Think about where you can cut corners in terms of your personal budget. Remember that coffee and sandwich time in the campus cafeteria could also mean added expenses. Do you have a stash of spare coins? Now may be the time to put them to use.

Make sure you’re heart is in it.

Choosing a course that is not within your field of interest may only make studying more difficult for you. Note that changes and adjustments may be a bit harder for you to do now that you are in your senior years. But, if you’re in it because it’s what your passion dictates, everything becomes so much easier. Remember that this time you are not just in it for monetary reasons. You are also there because you want your retirement years to be more meaningful.

Opt for online education instead.

Online education or distance education is a great option for seniors who do not have easy access to colleges and universities. This option is also suitable for seniors who have mobility issues.  Plus, seniors can work at their own pace and usually they can choose to take up their classes anytime they want. This is because many lessons are accessible 24/7 as long as there is access to internet. The best thing about online or distance education is that seniors have almost endless choices as courses are available from most universities.

Sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass not only affects the elderly, it can also deliver a major blow to public health costs. In the U.S. alone, the public health costs of sarcopenia reached $18.5 billion in the year 2000. This cost is also increasing since the elderly population also continues to grow.

Why Seniors Are Prone to Lose Muscle Mass

Many believe that muscle loss is a normal part of aging, but, some health experts argue that it should not be. There’s a saying, “Men do not stop playing because they grow old, but they’ve grown old because they stopped playing.” Put more simply, if you stop living an active life chances are your muscles will also stop growing. So, part of the reason why people lose muscle mass is that physical activity also tends to decrease as age increases. But, many experts argue that muscle loss in aging can be prevented through exercise.

Sarcopenia Muscle Loss

When Muscle Loss Accompanies Aging

Muscle loss is also medically referred to as sarcopenia. This refers to the process of losing muscle mass in the elderly and in people diagnosed with certain chronic diseases. After the age of 30, people start to lose as much as 3-5 percent of muscle mass. And, it will continue to decrease from then on. This means as people age, their bodies also continue to lose muscle mass every decade. Research reveals that sarcopenia speeds up when a person reaches the age of 75. Although in some people sarcopenia accelerates beginning at the age of 65. Others experience it in their 80s.

Muscle Loss NOT Only Occurs to Seniors

Muscle loss not only affects the elderly. It can also occur to people who have medical conditions that lead to any of the following:

  • A decrease in the number of nerve cells that play a role in brain signaling that triggers the muscles to function
  • Lowered levels of testosterone, insulin and growth hormones
  • Reduced ability of the body to convert protein into energy
  • Reduced caloric or protein intake

Muscle Loss Follows Nervous System Changes

Results from new research conducted revealed that muscle loss starts after changes occur in the person’s nervous system. When a person reaches the age of 75, the number of nerves responsible for leg control will reduce. The reduction of leg controlling nerves could be 30-50 percent. As a result, the muscle fibers will also start to disconnect from the nervous system. This will make the muscle fibers to become functionless resulting in wasting away.

For seniors with healthy muscles, the surviving nerves involved in leg control will start producing new branches. These newly developed nerve branches will be tasked to retrieve the detached muscle fibers. This protective mechanism is more likely to occur among seniors who have healthy, large muscles. If this protective system does not work effectively as it should be, those detached muscle fibers will not be retrieved. Thus, a condition called sarcopenia will start to take place. The sad thing about it is that sarcopenia is known to shorten life expectancy.

Factors that Speed up Muscle Loss

Immobility

Being sedentary or immobile for some reason increases risk for muscle loss. Not being able to move as much will cause the muscles to weaken. This will also speed up muscle loss. Having an injury and being diagnosed with an illness that make one immobile can also trigger faster muscle loss. Just two to three weeks of immobility can already reduce muscle strength and mass. But, reduced physical activity can trigger a vicious cycle of muscle mass loss and decreased strength. This results in feelings of fatigue which will also make it more difficult for one to become more active again. Add in other physical decline brought about by aging and the senior will surely suffer from muscle loss.

Poor diet choices

Diet that is lacking in protein and calories can lead to reduced muscle mass. Since elderly people often have reduced appetites they tend to lose muscle mass. This reduced caloric intake in an older person leads to pronounced protein and other nutrient deficiencies. Reasons for this loss of appetite may include dental and oral health problems. Difficulty swallowing and reduced ability to prepare one’s own food can also affect a senior’s appetite for food.

Illness

An illness causes inflammation which sends a message to the body to allow the breaking down and rebuilding of damaged cells to take place. However, if the illness becomes chronic the signals triggered by inflammation will be disrupted. This causes an imbalance of the breaking down and rebuilding process of damaged cells. The result would be muscle loss.

Research shows that those who are suffering from COPD also had decreased muscle mass. Other diseases that increase muscle loss are ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis. Severe burns, vasculitis and lupus can also result in muscle loss.

Severe Stress

Muscle loss is also prevalent in people who are suffering from diseases that increase stress. For example, seniors with chronic heart failure and chronic liver disease suffer from sarcopenia. The same is true with people who have chronic kidney disease. Cancer also places severe stress on a senior’s body which leads to sarcopenia.

How Sarcopenia Affects the Elderly

Reduced Walking Speed

Sarcopenia in the elderly may start to manifest as a decline in walking speed. This occurs as a result of the degeneration of muscles in the legs and buttocks. Difficulty in walking will also become apparent.

Frequent Muscle Fatigue

When the amount of muscle mass decreases, the remaining muscles will have to be the only ones which will bear the workload. Thus, the person becomes more likely to experience fatigue.

Reduced Muscle Strength

Grip strength can also be affected making it hard for seniors to do things like opening jar lids. This reduced muscle strength will also lead to decreased mobility. This  functional limitation becomes a vicious cycle…less strength leads to less use and less use results in less strength. In turn, the senior becomes less capable of performing some daily tasks. If left unabated, loss of muscle mass will increase a senior’s risk for falls and loss of mobility. It is also one of the major causes of frailty among older adults. As a consequence, the elderly becomes bedridden. Untreated sarcopenia can also increase the risk of death.

How to Prevent and Treat Muscle Loss

Although muscle mass really declines with age there are ways to prevent, lessen or even reverse it. Some of the best ways to make this possible are through the following:

Stick to your exercise regimen.

Exercise is the most powerful way to prevent muscle loss among seniors. This is also true even if muscle loss is not due to aging but a chronic illness. Exercise allows the muscles to improve its strength and aerobic capacity. It is also beneficial in improving protein synthesis and enzyme activity in the muscles. Besides, exercise is also known to decrease a senior’s frailty. Exercise must be done at least three times a week. Experts recommend an exercise regimen that combines endurance and resistance types. This can greatly help reduce the loss of skeletal muscle mass. Add in the improvement of muscle function.

Increase protein intake.

Protein plays a crucial role in muscle building and repair. Increased protein intake improves protein anabolism. An improvement in protein anabolism would mean that more amino acids will be converted into proteins. These proteins will then be used by the body for replacement and repair of damaged tissues. The recommended daily protein intake for older adults remains a subject of debate among experts. However, many agree that seniors need more than just 0.8 grams of protein per 2 pounds of body weight each day. This amount may not be enough for seniors who are suffering from a clinical condition. Therefore, the need to increase this amount is a must especially for sickly seniors. However, you should not increase protein intake without first consulting your dietitian or nutritionist. It is also important to choose high quality proteins.  

Study author Stuart Phillips from  McMaster University in Canada suggests that seniors focus more on foods that contain leucine. Leucine serves as an indispensable amino acid for developing proteins.  The role of leucine in stimulating muscle growth is so crucial. Without it, muscle growth will not occur and muscle loss will not be prevented. Some great sources of leucine include parmesan cheese, soybeans, beef, chicken and pork.

Up your intake of omega 3s.

Increasing consumption of omega 3s is one of the low-cost and safest ways to counter sarcopenia. This is because omega 3 fatty acids also play a role in muscle growth and repair. In a recent study, omega 3 supplementation helped slow down muscle mass decline in older adults. This is one of the findings by the experts from Washington University School of Medicine. Experts recommend that omega 3s must be part of the treatment plan for sarcopenia in older adults. Some of the best sources of omega 3s are Atlantic mackerel, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds.

Avoid inflammation-inducing foods.

Make sure to get rid first of inflammation-causing foods before you decide to load up on anti-inflammatory foods. Examples of inflammatory foods are fried foods, meat from grain-fed animals and sugar. Foods with trans fat, corn syrup and additives can also induce inflammation in the body. Steer clear from processed and packaged foods because they usually contain high amount of inflammation causing substances.

Instead, eat more of green leafy veggies, fatty fish, fruits and nuts. Blueberries and apples are also excellent anti-inflammatory foods. These foods contain lots of polyphenols and antioxidants. These nutrients help reduce inflammation in the body.

Keep closer tabs on your alcohol intake.

Alcohol is a known risk factor for muscle loss. If you are in your senior years and still drinking frequently, now is the time to wean yourself off from it. Start eliminating your alcohol intake in a gradual manner. This is if you find it hard to stop it cold turkey. If you have been diagnosed with sarcopenia, be serious in ditching your alcohol habit. This is because alcohol inhibits the process of muscle repair. So, if you have sarcopenia, your muscles will have difficulty recovering from it if you continue to drink alcohol. Alcohol not only contributes to inflammation. It can also drain away the critical nutrients from your body thus making muscle recovery more difficult.

Ditch those cigarettes.

If you have the habit of smoking, start saying goodbye to it. Smoking has been linked to skeletal muscle dysfunction. Muscle growth is adversely affected by smoking. This is because smoking leads to poor blood flow to your muscles. And, poor blood flow translates to poor oxygen supply. Thus, your muscles will be deprived of oxygen making it less capable of growing and repairing.

Be checked for vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is important for muscle synthesis. It also helps fight inflammation so that muscle balance and strength are more achievable. However, as a person ages it may  become more difficult to get enough Vitamin D from sun exposure. Although you may also get it from dietary sources, there’s no guarantee you’ll get enough of it each day. This is why it is important to turn to vitamin D supplements. Always ask your doctor first before taking any supplements. This is a must especially if you are also taking other medications for your illness. Great food sources of vitamin D include: fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. Other vitamin D-rich foods are egg yolks, cheese and beef liver.

Have your hormonal levels checked.

Getting your blood checked every year is important. This way, doctors will be able to determine your levels of growth hormones. Try to find out whether you have enough testosterone and DHEA levels in your blood. And, if found having low levels your doctor can then recommend ways to treat it. Making sure that your hormones are balanced is critical in preventing and treating muscle loss. Both men and women can benefit from added bioidentical testosterone.

Menopause can make women more likely to experience muscle loss. Hormone productions are affected during post-menopausal period. This is because menopause leads to lowered levels of estradiol and testosterone hormones. One reason for this is that hormone production in the ovaries is  reduced. Talk to your doctor to see if your body would benefit from adding bioidentical hormones.

Caregiver StressCaregiver Stress is more common than we once believed. A 2015 survey from AARP and The National Alliance for Caregiving shows that there are almost 34.2 million unpaid American caregivers. Another report also revealed that one in five caregivers has high levels of physical strain. While two out of five caregivers find their role as emotionally stressful. 

Caregiving is a stressful responsibility. This is true especially if you feel that you only have very little control over your senior’s situation. Caregiver stress is real and must not be ignored. It can significantly take a toll on so many aspects of your life. It can affect your own health, your career and personal relationships. It can also take a toll on your own state of mind. The result is burnout that hinders you from being productive. In turn, you will find it tough to perform  caregiving tasks.

No matter how high your stress levels there are ways to reduce it.  You should realize that experiencing burnout will not do you and your care recipient any good. This is why you need to know the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout. This way, you can find ways to reduce it before it takes a toll on you. The following is a list of symptoms of caregiver stress.

  • Feeling anxious most of the time
  • Worsening health problems
  • Fatigue that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Losing or gaining much weight
  • Becoming irritable and easily angered
  • Losing enthusiasm for activities used to be enjoyed
  • Having headaches and/or bodily pains

Once you realize that you are hit with these symptoms, seek help. There are plenty of ways to reduce these symptoms of stress. The following are some of the ways to deal with caregiver stress:

Accept Your Situation

The stress of caregiving worsens if you don’t accept the situation that you’re in. Acceptance will go a long way toward making your role less stressful. Accept the fact that as a spouse or child it is your duty to be the caregiver. But, this does not mean you will continue the role even though you are no longer capable. If your senior has progressive illness professional help must be sought. Accept the truth that your care recipient has an illness that warrants higher level of care.

Letting go of resistance may be difficult in the beginning. But, you have to realize that you need to take charge of the situation. Stop spending so much time resenting or feeling sorry about your situation. Know that you have to make choices. You can either choose to be the victim of circumstances. Or, choose to be your own boss and be on top of the situation. The second option will set yourself up for a less stressful caregiving journey. Forget about what you’ve planned before. Move on and focus on the situation you’re in now. When you let go you’ll find it easier to clear your mind from unwanted cobwebs of resistance.

Keep a Positive Mind

Having positive thoughts about your caregiving role will keep depression at bay. Caregivers are at risk of depression. This is because they do not give themselves time for socialization. They feel that their world is getting smaller each day.  And, they think of caregiving as a role that deprives them of the chance to enjoy life. They think that they’re already stuck in a stressful role. They think they cannot be productive anymore in some other aspects of their life. But, if you’d only look at the positive side of caregiving you will find happiness in it.

Think of your role as an example to your children. Make your children understand that caregiving is a rewarding role. Let them see how you also want to be treated when you get older. Instead of stressing over your caregiving tasks, celebrate. Be happy that you are there for your parent or loved one. Celebrate the fact that no one else can give him the best love and care but you. Stop worrying about the things that you cannot control. Be grateful that you have the capacity to provide care for your loved one. While you acknowledge the fact that help is available. You just have to look for it in your community or in the internet. Let these thoughts serve as your motivation in your caregiving journey.

Feel Appreciated

Caregivers feel better if they hear words of appreciation. And, some of them feel bad if they think their efforts are not appreciated. Caregivers who feel appreciated have better health than those who feel the opposite.For some of them, caregiving actually makes them happy. They rejoice at the thought that they are showing their love for their loved one through caregiving. But, others are sad if the care recipient is no longer capable of expressing his appreciations. In this case, it is best to imagine how the recipient would react if only he were healthy enough to do so.  

Imagine the words that your recipient will say about the efforts you’ve done to make him feel better. Talk about your role with your friends and family members.  This way, they will realize the struggle that you’ve been through. Once they know these things they can’t help but express their appreciation for you.

It is also helpful if you applaud your own efforts. Find time to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve made. You can do this by watching your favorite movie at home. You may also take the time to listen to your favorite music. Or, cook your favorite food for dinner. You can reward yourself without the need to leave your elderly at home.

Know When to Ask for Help

Caregiver stress increases if you keep all your struggles to yourself. Failure to take a break is also a surefire way to make your stress levels soar. Always find time to take a break. Even if it means only for thirty minutes a day or two hours on weekends. Also, do not try to do it all alone. If you have difficulty in some areas of caregiving, ask for help. Many caregivers make the mistake of thinking they’re all alone in their caregiving ordeal. This leads them to experience too much stress that affects their health. Read the following to know where to obtain help.

  • Respite Care – Leaving your senior to respite care will help you take a break from caregiving. Others also use this time for processing some documents which they cannot do while caregiving.The costs of respite care differs according to the chosen agency and the type of service the care recipient needs. The duration of respite care provided may also vary. It  can be for just one afternoon or one whole day. It can also be for a month or less. It can also be provided at home or in an adult day care center. It can also be arranged in a healthcare facility. Some assisted living facilities, if they aren’t full also cater to respite care.
  • Meals on Wheels – this program makes meal preparation one less thing to worry about. Seniors who find meal preparation difficult can have food delivered to their homes. Signing up for this program can help caregivers have more time to do other more important tasks. Meals on Wheels have more than 5,000 local programs that are run independently. The services offered in this program may vary depending on the needs of seniors in each community. The aim is to help seniors get proper nourishment and live a healthier life as they age.
  • In-Home Services – provide services that help seniors maintain quality life while aging in place. In-Home services are provided by insured and certified caregivers. They offer services such as meal preparation and wound care. They also offer help with bathing and managing medications.
  • Adult Day Care Centers – this is where temporary relief is given to caregivers. They do this by providing assistance to care recipients while their loved one who serve as caregiver is away. These adult day care centers usually operate during business hours. Their centers are mostly open five days a week. Some of these centers are open during weekends or evenings.
  • Make caregiving a “family role.” Try to enlist other family members to help you in your caregiving tasks. You can ask them to run errands for you. You may also ask them to bring you hot meals from time to time. Schedule other family members to take your place on weekends. This way, you can have time to enjoy or have a break from caregiving.

Do not be ashamed of asking for help. At the same time, you should not be ashamed as well in accepting help. When someone offers help, welcome him with open arms. Learn to delegate but avoid micromanaging. Some people do not like to help if they feel they are micromanaged.

Join a Support Group

Joining support groups for caregivers will greatly ease some of your burdens. Besides, you will also have the chance to learn more from information shared by fellow caregivers. These support groups conduct meetings that allow caregivers to talk about their experiences. This way, they learn from each other. Appreciation and encouragement are also easily obtained by joining these groups. You may think you don’t have time to attend a support group when actually attending a support group will make you more effective in caregiving. These support groups will also help you manage your stress. Most of all, it helps you realize you are not alone in your struggles.

There are several ways to look for caregiver support groups. You can even choose one that caters to your specific situation. For example, there are support groups for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. There are also support groups for caregivers of cancer patients. You can also find internet support groups so you won’t have to leave home. The following are some of the support groups that you can turn to for help.

  • Visit the Family Caregiver Alliance site. This site helps you find online resources and support for family caregivers. Obtaining free information and support can be done online on a 24/7 schedule.
  • You may also visit the AARP online Community Caregiving forum. Here you can read and join discussions about any caregiving topics. The aim is to improve each caregiver’s quality of life. You can read the discussions or posts on this forum. If you want to reply to these posts you need to register first.
  • If your care recipient has Alzheimer’s, you may visit an online support group called ALZconnected. This site allows you to share information about your caregiving experience. You can also get advice and answers to your caregiving concerns.
  • Check out Eldercare Locator if you want caregiver support program in your locality. This site is courtesy of the U.S. Administration on Aging. It helps you connect to services available for older adults, their caregivers and families. You may also call them at numbers 1-800-677-1116.

Take Care of Yourself

You cannot be a caregiver of another person without first being your own caregiver. You need to be in good health to be capable of providing care to others. Stop jeopardizing your health by neglecting self-care. Instead, do the following tips to keep your body in shape despite the pressures of caregiving.

Stay well-nourished. Caregivers have the tendency to be emotional eaters. While others prefer to skip meals. This may only worsen caregiver stress. Emotional eaters love to feast on high-sugar and high-sodium junk foods. Don’t fall victim into this emotional eating trap. Instead, stick to whole foods diet. Steer clear from processed foods that will only do you more harm than good. Opt for plant-based foods like fruits and leafy greens. Don’t forget healthy fats and lean protein.

Get enough sleep. This may seem hard to do as a caregiver. There will be times when you need to stay up all night to take care of your elderly. But, you need to get enough sleep as much as possible. Sleep allows you to renew your body’ strength. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, either one will make it harder for you to get restful sleep. Take the time to make your bedroom conducive to that sweet slumber you need. Simple adjustments to the temperature or bedding can make your sleep more satisfying.

Exercise regularly. Don’t say you don’t have time to do this. Exercise is not an indulgence it’s a necessity! Do what you have to in order to adjust your schedule for  yoga or any other exercise you prefer. Jog for thirty minutes everyday or three times a week. These few minutes you spend on exercising can already do wonders in lowering your stress levels. Remember that there are many exercises that you can do at home. This way you don’t have to worry about your leaving your care recipient.

Caregiver stress is a serious thing. If left unchecked it can trigger the onset of many diseases. De-stressing yourself will make it easier for you to stay healthy. You need to be healthy. This statement cannot be overemphasized. As you are already aware of, the benefits of being healthy are so immense. It makes you happier and sets you up for longer and better quality of life.

Maintaining the ability to drive is crucial to most senior’s quality of life. It helps them to stay connected to people in their respective communities. Being able to drive is an indispensable part of maintaining social ties while also having constant access to all services needed. Losing one’s ability to drive either voluntarily or for any other reason can have an adverse impact on a senior’s health. It puts them at risk for anxiety and depression. Senior self-driving cars

Seniors who lose their driving capabilities face a higher risk of being moved to a long-term care facility. It increases their risk for isolation as it makes a senior more prone to loneliness because they will likely leave the house less often. 

In other words, losing the ability to drive may also mean losing one’s independence. This is true especially if the senior is living alone and no family members are living in close proximity.

There are 14 million licensed drivers aged 65 years old or older, says the Federal Highway Administration. Of course, age is not a determining factor whether you are a bad driver or not. However, there are some physical limitations on elderly drivers. These limitations make driving, a daunting task for elderly adults. 

The good news is that automakers and aftermarket manufacturers are introducing more and more features and products that assist drivers and make driving safer and easier!

For many seniors, driving is a necessity. There are times seniors may need to realize the need to hang up the keys and finally give up driving for good. Data shows the number of accidents increase when people reach the age of 65, and fatal accidents increase by age 75.

As we age, driving is a symbol of independence. As kids become teenagers, driving represents the ability to do things on their own. The same remains to be true to older adults. Elderly people drive with plenty of risks. Even if the elderly reduce the amount of time driving or giving up the keys; independence should not be diminished. The key here is to know what assistive devices and car features can be used to make driving safer and less stressful to people.

Self-driving cars are still a few years away but until then, here are some very helpful products that will make driving a lot easier for aging seniors.

Handybar Car Aid

Handybar Car Aid is a device that helps elderly to get in and out of the car easily. This handybar car aid is designed to help reduce a senior’s risk of falling. It provides great amount of leverage especially among seniors who find sitting or standing from inside of the car or into the car too difficult. The tool is inserted into a U-shaped striker plate on the vehicle door frame. It can be used in the side doors of both the driver and passenger. It supports weight for up to 350 pounds. Its added features such as seatbelt cutter and window breaker are helpful in cases of emergency.

Get more info on the Handybar Car Aid

Sun Zapper Glare Shield

Elderly people may have a problem with vision when there’s too much glare. And, such problem may spell danger especially when they’re driving. The Sun Zapper Glare Shield helps in keeping the glare out of the senior’s eyes. This tool attaches easily to the existing car visor and has a special shield (thus the name) to zap out the glare from the sun coming into the car.

Get more info on the Sun Zapper Glare Shield

Panoramic Rearview Mirror

With this tool, the 20/20 Panoramic Rearview Mirror, blind spots are effectively reduced. This tool can be easily installed over the existing rearview mirror. It works great for seniors with existing neck troubles or injuries. It helps them look over their shoulders with ease.

Get more info on the Panoramic Rearview Mirror

CIPA Hotspots Corner Wedge Safety Mirror

The CIPA Hotspots Corner Wedge Safety Mirror works like a convex mirror and helps in eliminating blind spots especially in the side-view mirror. It has a self-adhesive, making it less of a fuss to install. Plus, it greatly improves safety on the road.

Get more info on the Corner Wedge Safety Mirror

Sheepskin Seat Belt Cover

The seat belt is one of the leading safety devices one can have in the car. But, it is far from perfect. There are other issues that one can encounter when using a seat belt. The Sheepskin Seat Belt Cover helps in preventing chafing on the neck and shoulders. The seat belt may rub against the skin, which can be especially damaging to the elderly. The product comes in eight colors to best match the colors in one’s car.

Get more info on Sheepskin Seat Belt Covers

Power Transfer Seat

The Power Transfer Seat enables the one sitting to rotate up to 90 degrees, which makes moving in and out of the car easier. The seat can be installed in both sides of the car. The tool fits most vehicles including minivans.

Getting in an out of a car is the biggest challenge for seniors. There are some car makers who are designing cars that are senior friendly. With the new cars, getting in and out can be easier. The challenge is how to make driving easier for seniors with older cars.  

Get more info on Power Transfer Seats

Padded Swivel Seat Cushion

We have to admit, getting in and out of a car can be sometimes a dread to seniors. A cushion can be a simpler way for seniors to get in and out. The Padded Swivel Seat Cushion is perfect for people with mobility struggles or those with hip injuries or problems. The padded seat is about 15 inches and is able to turn 360 degrees.

Get more info on Padded Swivel Seat Cushions

Easy Reach Seat Belt Handle

Elderly people often suffer from arthritis or shoulder pain. The mobility along these parts of the body may be impaired. The Easy Reach Seat Belt Handle makes it easier for the elderly with physical problems to reach out and pull the seat belt towards one’s body. This way it will be less painful for the elderly to use the seat belt while also ensuring safety.

Get more info on Easy Reach Seat Belt Handles

Seat Belt Strap Adjuster

The seat belt strap on your shoulder can be annoying. It is best to have some tool to keep the strap where it should be. The Seat Belt Strap Adjuster makes it possible to adjust the strap where it should be—in between one’s neck and shoulder.

Get more info on Seat Belt Strap Adjusters

Foot Pedal Extensions

Pedals are necessary in the operations of a vehicle. There are times that seniors may not be able to reach the pedals properly. The use of extensions is one great solution to this problem. Foot Pedal Extensions allow seniors to reach the pedals. At the same time, it will put the senior at a safe distance upon airbag deployment in an emergency situation. The tool is made from a non-skid surface and the extension ranges from one to four inches.

Get more info on Foot Pedal Extensions

Turny Orbit Seat

The powered Turny Orbit Seat will enable the senior to turn 90 degrees, lift the senior out of the vehicle, and lower to the ground. This seat is ideal to those with mobility problems.

It is simply wonderful to drive oneself. It is one of the most fulfilling moments for the elderly. With these new auto features, it will be easier for seniors to drive despite their infirmities. It is best to talk with drivers’ advocates and auto mechanics and get the best recommendations on any given situation.

Get more info on the Turny Orbit Seat 

Get Help from Occupational Therapist

Different factors of aging can make it challenging for you to drive. If you are not certain about whether you are still physically fit to drive, ask help from an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist will  help you assess which part of your body has issues that could affect your driving skills and how you can work together to overcome it.

You are most likely to have problems with driving if:

  • Your neck hurts everytime you look over your shoulder whenever you need to change lanes. With this neck pain, you find it hard to look left and right when scanning the road.
  • You experience pain in your leg each time you move your leg from the gas to the brakes or vice versa.
  • Your arms are no longer strong or quick enough to turn the wheel as fast as you need to.
  • Your reaction time is no longer as quick as before.
  • Looking at traffic, road signs and people crossing the road – all at the same time has become a challenge for you.

Occupational therapists can give you suggestions on the best exercises that will help you overcome these challenges in driving. If you have just been through a stroke or surgery, occupational therapists can also help you in developing a plan in order for you to recover quickly and get back to driving again.

Obtaining clearance from an Occupational Therapist or Rehabilitation Specialist will give assurance to your loved ones that you are capable of driving again. These professionals will also give you advice on what strategies to use so that you can improve your driving skills. They can also make assessments on how long you are able to continue driving. These occupational therapists can also give you advice regarding the best assistive devices that you can use for your car to make driving a lot easier for you.

You may check out the website of The American Occupational Therapy Association if you’re looking for an occupational therapist or rehabilitation specialist. It is best to look for someone who has Special Certification in Driving and Community Mobility.

Debunking the “Seniors are More Dangerous Drivers” Myth

Data from Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) revealed that in Montana, teenage drivers were found to be involved in more deadly car accidents compared to elderly drivers. Moreover, results from a research conducted by the RAC Foundation showed that even though drivers aged 75 and above account for 6 percent of the population of license holders, they were found to only account for 4.3 percent of all serious injuries and fatal road accidents.

In fact, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Motorists and RAC Foundation believe that senior drivers are as safe as younger drivers. However, according to them, there are also exceptions. For example, in places where there are high-speed junctions and dual carriageways, seniors do struggle. The same thing is true in locations where there are slip-roads and high-speed roundabouts. These locations warrant drivers to make quick responses and quick decisions and these are things that many elderly drivers find too challenging. But, when it comes to driving everywhere else, senior drivers were found to be just as good as anybody else.

It is important to note that not all seniors are vulnerable to road accidents. Another important thing to keep in mind is that not all seniors are unsafe drivers. Luckily, there are ways to help seniors overcome some challenges that they have in driving. One of these is to make use of assistive devices that will help make driving a lot easier for them despite these challenges.

What States are Doing to Promote Safety Driving among Seniors

To be able to address these problems that the elderly drivers face, 33 states in the U.S., have come up with laws or provisions and some of these are the following:

Accelerated Renew Frequency – this provision requires less time for seniors to renew their licenses. Instead of renewing every eight years, some states require that seniors renew every four years.

Online and Mail Renewal Restriction – some states such as Alaska, restrict seniors aged 69 and above to renew their license online or through mail. They are required to be physically present at the Division of Motor Vehicle whenever they need to renew their license.

Vision and Road Tests – some states have mandated a stricter policy regarding road and vision tests for seniors renewing their driver’s license.

References:

https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/blog/2016/05/25/what-does-drawing-clocks-have-to-do-with-driving-cars-tests-of-cognitive-skills-that-can-flag-older-drivers-who-may-be-unsafe-behind-the-wheel

https://www.consumerreports.org/elderly-driving/how-seniors-are-driving-safer-driving-longer/

https://seniordriving.aaa.com/evaluate-your-driving-ability/

https://www.autoinsurancecenter.com/dangerous-drivers-teens-vs.-senior-citizens.htm

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24204489

Why does it have to be so hard to understand what senior health care insurance costs really are? And what makes it so difficult to select the right healthcare plan? The difficulty is often a result of the overwhelming Health Care Insurance Costsamount of information that is provided in healthcare insurance ads and sales materials. Information overload causes many seniors to struggle to organize details and make wise decisions. Different healthcare insurance plans offer different benefits. There are also things that some insurance companies cover while others don’t. The following information will help spare you from potentially adverse impacts of medical care on your retirement savings.

What Your Insurance May Not Cover

Travel Vaccines

Take note – we are talking about TRAVEL vaccines such as Yellow Fever and Typhoid Vaccines. These kinds of vaccines are not covered by most of the insurance companies. But, if you need tetanus shot or a flu vaccine these may be covered, provided that they are part of your preventative care. Insurance companies usually cover only those things that are considered to be medically necessary. Unfortunately, health insurance companies do not consider travel vaccines to be medically necessary. Thus, it becomes an out-of-pocket expense to you.

Don’t expect your insurance provider to pay for any care you provide that would be considered “Medical Tourism“. It’s becoming more and more popular for people to travel to other countries where medical costs are lower or where treatments not approved in the US are offered.

Alternative Therapies

Rules may vary from state to state, so the coverage of alternative therapies depends on where you live. This is because each state has a different definition of what an“essential health benefits package” is.  For example, if you need to undergo chiropractic treatment as part of your rehabilitative care, then it will most likely be covered by your insurance company. But, if you decide to undergo chiropractic treatment just because you feel good about it then this will not be covered by your insurer.

It is important to note that it is highly unlikely that all of your chiropractic visits will be covered. There is typically a limit as to the number of visits that are included in coverage.  For example, some insurance companies only cover ten to thirty chiropractic visits during the course of a year.

Original Medicare does not cover treatment for acupuncture. But, it covers “medically necessary” chiropractic treatment. But, if you signed up with a Medicare Advantage plan chances are your acupuncture and chiropractic treatments will be covered.

Some of the most common alternative therapies covered by health insurance companies are:

  • Massage
  • Biofeedback
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Naturopathy

A survey was conducted in order to find out which companies cover costs for alternative therapies. The results showed that out of 18 companies surveyed, only 14 of them provide this type of coverage. These companies offer to cover 34 types of alternative therapies. Some of the insurance providers that were included in this survey include Prudential, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente and Medicare.

Aetna is among those companies that cover alternative therapies only if there are studies and evidence to prove its safety. It is also important that the effectiveness of the chosen alternative therapy is based on peer-reviewed medical literature.

Don’t forget to provide your insurer with a statement of medical necessity. You must obtain this document from your primary care physician. The coverage may also be limited only to a certain number of visits or cover only some of the services the healthcare provider offers.

Cosmetic Surgery

If you decide to undergo cosmetic surgery just because you want to look better, know that it will not be covered by your insurance company. However, if you need to undergo reconstructive breast surgery after your mastectomy then it could be covered. What is important is that your doctor authorizes such surgery and sees it as medically necessary.

So, the key here is the magic phrase “medically necessary.” The next time you ask whether your health insurance covers something, remember this magic phrase – Is it medically necessary?

Nursing Home Care

The costs of standard nursing home care would not be covered by most commercial health insurance plans. This is when the help of Long Term Care Insurance is needed. However, if you’ve got Medicaid then chances are some costs will be covered.

Your health insurance may cover short-term health care costs. For example, if you are advised to stay in a skilled nursing facility because you have a broken hip. As long as you stay there for just a short time because you need temporary skilled nursing care, then you are most likely covered. Another reason is that these injuries are considered to be a “medical accident.” But, there is also a limit to the number of days that you can stay in the skilled nursing facility. Remember that you are staying there for the main purpose of recovering from an injury or a certain illness. If you stay there because of chronic illness, you are not covered.

Services for Vision, Hearing and Dental

For vision, hearing and dental services, you will almost certainly need to purchase a separate health insurance plan. However, it is sometimes not worth it to pay for a separate insurance plan just for these services. This is because for example, a dental cleaning service will only cost $110, two times a year in your state. So, it is not really worth it to pay for your monthly premiums for an insurance that promises to cover such services. Otherwise, you end up paying so much more for your insurance than what you are actually paying for these services.

Weight Loss Surgery

If you’re a senior who plans to undergo bariatric surgery, make sure you’ve read everything in the fine print. Although Medicare and Medicaid covers bariatric surgery there aren’t any federal requirement that private insurance should cover it. But, not all types of weight loss procedures are covered. Thus, the need to read the fine print in your policy so you clearly understand what is covered and what is not covered.

Preventative tests

The rules are quite complicated in terms of preventative care. Colonoscopy, mammogram and cholesterol screening are covered. But, things like PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen screening and Vitamin D testing are not covered. This is because at times not enough evidence is provided to prove that one needs to undergo such preventative test. As a result, some health insurance companies turn down requests for coverage.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications are part of “essential health benefits” so they are usually covered by health insurance. However, seniors must still read carefully the list of medications that are covered by the insurance. This is because not all drugs are covered. In most cases insurance companies only cover one medicine for each class. Some companies only cover generic drugs but not the branded ones.

It is best to have a list of specific drugs or drug classes that your health insurance covers. Check out the list of drugs called “formularies” in your health insurance doc. This way, you will know which drugs exactly are covered and which are not.

Are you using Medicaid? Well, Medicaid also has limited coverage. So, before you believe that Medicaid covers almost everything, make sure you have complete knowledge of what’s really covered. For example, did you know that Medicaid does not cover private nursing services? It also won’t pay for the services that a family member may provide you such as caregiving. Disposable things such as bandages and adult diapers are also not included in the coverage. Chiropractic treatment and cosmetic surgery costs are also not covered by Medicaid.

Tips to Spare You from Huge Health Care Costs

Make sure you know what’s really covered.

Some insurance providers such as Medicare will cover more than 50 percent of your health-care costs during retirement. However, this does not come for free. Of course, you have to pay your premiums first to be eligible for such benefits. For Medicare, those who are paying for Parts B and D are the ones who are entitled to this benefit. Medicare Parts B and D will also cover a senior’s prescription drugs and visits to the doctor.

Do not forget to read your insurance provider’s policies. You should know which pharmacies are part of your insurer’s preferred network. Also, ask your insurance provider if a mail-order pharmacy could provide you with better benefits.

Invest more on keeping yourself healthy

Some people are very conscious about saving enough for their future health care costs. However, they overlook the importance of investing more for things that help keep them in good health as they age.  Gym memberships and organic foods are good investments! Adhering to healthy lifestyle habits may prove to be a short term added expense, since organic foods are way more expensive than non-organic foods. However, these costs can be seen as an investment in your good health since wholesome food and exercise can help spare you from the eventual costs of having a chronic and serious disease later in life.

Also, remember to take advantage of the “free” yearly immunizations which are included with most insurance policies. Don’t miss out on getting immunizations for flu, pneumonia and shingles every year.

Anticipate future health care costs.

One of the best ways to make sure you’re prepared for future health related costs is to have savings goal. This way, you will have at least the basic idea as to how much you should be saving for your own future medical costs. You can do this by using an online tool that helps you determine how much you should be saving for your health care needs. Check out HealthView Services and AARP’s Health Care Costs Calculator.

Borrow medical equipment.

If you know you will be using a medical equipment only for a short time, do not buy right away. Think about borrowing it from lending programs that are available in your community. Community medical lending programs may have wheelchairs, crutches, bath aids and walkers. You can borrow these either for free or at a very low cost. These equipment usually come from people who no longer need the device. There are a lot of lending centers who cater specifically to seniors. Ask your local senior center for this kind of services. You may also check out the Commission on Aging center in your area.

Be wise when doing healthcare shopping.

Don’t fall into the trap of using healthcare dollars to pay your out-of-pocket expenses. If you want to save, be a smart shopper. If you’re seeking regular treatment and other health services, take the time to shop around. Do the necessary research to find the best service or treatment for a lower cost. Shop around if you need to undergo laboratory screening or getting an MRI. These can cost less at a radiology center than at the hospital.

Understanding Healthcare Insurance Terms

Many seniors find healthcare terms confusing. This is not uncommon especially since some terms really sound foreign. If your doctor utters a word which you do not understand, do not hesitate to ask. It is best to understand these terms now while you are still healthy enough to do so. It can be very daunting to memorize these terms when you’re in a hospital bed.

Co-pay

This refers to a flat fee that you have to pay when you need to see your doctor or undergo lab tests. This is a fixed amount that is predetermined by your health insurance provider. By requiring a co-pay, the policyholder and the insurer share the amount of health care costs. Copays usually cost only a fraction of the actual cost of the actual medicine or service provided.

Deductible

This refers to the amount that you have to pay before your health insurance shoulders the bigger portion of what remains in your hospital bill. For example, if you have $1,000 deductible, you have to pay this amount before your health insurance will cover 100% of the costs. Your deductible resets annually.

Coinsurance

If copays are fixed rates that you have to pay, coinsurance is just a percentage of the total cost that you have to pay. This is the percentage of the amount that you will pay once you have maxed out your deductible. If your health insurance states that your coinsurance is 20 percent, the remaining 80 percent of the bill will be covered by your insurer.

Out-of-pocket Maximum

This is the maximum amount that you can pay out-of-pocket in one year. Once you have reached the maximum out-of-pocket costs, your insurance provider will be the one to shoulder one hundred percent of the remaining total bill.

Understanding these healthcare terms can spare you from confusion down the road. Knowing these terms helps promote better communication between you and your health insurance provider. It will also help make it easier for you to understand what your physician says about healthcare coverage.

If you’ve already purchased a golf cart for your silver-haired years (or your hair follicle-challenged years) then chances are you are not willing to give up your sense of adventure and your love of staying active.

Obviously, you didn’t buy that golf cart just to park it in your driveway. And, needless to say, staying active helps you live a full life even if you have to cross out “tackle football” or “mountain climbing” and replace them with safer options.

But that golf cart can certainly help you do more than make trips to your hair stylist or the dentist’s office. For those who have recently purchased their first golf cart might not yet realize the many options for staying active in a retirement community or whatever style neighborhood in which you reside.

Golf Carts are Fun to Own

Golf CartThe first thing you will do with your golf cart is take it for a spin. Yes, this is very different than taking a shiny new Corvette out on some back road to see if you can open her up a bit and “see what this baby can do.” The top end speed for a golf cart will fluff up your hair, but the wind you feel will mostly be the wind that’s blowing through town, anyway, undiminished at a stop light.

The point here is that golf carts are flat-out fun things to own. If the sun is shining, take it out for a ride, air it out a little bit. At 20 to 25 mph, the world looks quite a bit different. It isn’t a blur, but it isn’t stagnant, either. It’s a peaceful ride that allows you to take in your surroundings in a different light. Riding through your local neighborhood allows for a heavy intake of fresh air and appreciation for your neighborhood. A golf cart rolls around at the speed of a burro that’s in a hurry, except in a fashion that is a lot more comfortable.

Sightseeing is certainly an option, all the better if you live someplace where the paved road meets up with Mother Nature. You may not be able to make that hike to the trail head as you did in the past, but the golf cart can get you right to the edge, saving your energy for a nice walk in the woods.

Try a picnic outing. Your golf cart has a luggage rack for a reason and there isn’t much that’s as romantic, nostalgic and casual as a picnic lunch or diner in a scenic setting. Imagine, a beautiful day to enjoy a picnic without the hassle of walking a significant distance to get there.

Remember, a picnic outing for seniors doesn’t mean you have to go with Kool-Aid and baloney sandwiches.  Stop at the local specialized grocery store and fill up with some exotic options: pate de foie gras, some brie cheese, a special desert and fine wine.

If you’re driving past or to the old mill stream, don’t forget your fishing gear. Take advantage of that wealth of knowledge you’ve tucked away over the years and put it to good use – one way of saying, you know how to catch fish, what are you waiting for?

Quietly Approach Wildlife

Invent a golf cart safari. There are many parks with roads running through them or around them and you can take advantage of the calming presence of a golf cart and quietly approach wildlife – especially if you have a quiet electric motor. However, be sure to be careful when you go on this adventure. You can’t roll up your windows if a bear gets too curious about what you are doing in its territory. Better keep the safari option open for herbivores only. To be safe though, be sure to check on the state and federal laws that apply to driving a golf cart in your community.

Additional Ideas to do with Your Golf Cart

Golf cart races are certainly out of the question, but you can mimic an adventure activity that motorcycle enthusiasts enjoy, which is a so-called “Poker Run”. This involves mapping out a route that a large group of travelers would all use and having the participants pick up a card at each stop along the way, so when they return home they have five or ten cards in their procession that they would use as their poker hand – or whatsoever game suits your fancy. This would be loads of fun for community engagement!

Often this is done to cover some miles on motorcycles and typically the stopping points include a few saloons or possibly a local wine tour. But alcohol doesn’t have to be the incentive here. People also plan  “Poker Run” days for charity and figure out how to get participants to donate funds through entry fees or other, creative and fun options.

You might organize a day in which friends all chip in to bet, essentially, on who can log the most miles in a day with their golf cart. At the end of the day, you might host a diner in which each participant stands up and tells the friends what kind of adventure they got into or what they saw on their ride. You could do this and set a cap on mileage – say a five- or ten-mile maximum. Then you might have several winners, but it would still be fun for everyone.

You could also organize a treasure hunt. During a vacation to a seaside location years ago, I wrote out clues in rhyming couplets and with four or five cars participating they drove from location to location, where I had planted more clues. At each stop they found a letter, which eventually spelled out the word lobster. Guess what we had for dinner that night?

Get your Golf Cart Involved in the Community

Many towns and villages across the country host an annual festival – the Dairy Days (in early June) in my neck of the woods – so don’t forget to sign up a golf cart platoon to represent the local residential community where you live. Remember, all politics are local and some day some issue will come up on the town or village board that has to do with your community. So waving at the crowd from your golf cart during the local parade – with a banner proudly announcing who you are – is always a good PR gesture that might have a pay off someday.

The penultimate suggestion here is to offer your golf cart for an Uber-type taxi service for someone in your community who may not have one and can’t get to stores or local concerts or festivals. Give back to those through a generous ride through the blissful, peaceful air that fills a golf cart.

Your Golf Cart is a Resource

In its heart of hearts, a golf cart is a resource. Maybe your neighbor has trouble getting to the grocery store now and again, especially during holidays when public transport ion cuts back, as it does in some communities, to a minimum of runs. Doing someone a good turn will feel good, as any volunteer service does.

The last suggestion – don’t say you didn’t see this coming – is go out and play some golf. That was their original intent for being invented, however, retirement communities offer you the ability to slow down life and smell the roses. A golf cart is a perfect way to accompany your lifestyle in the retirement years.

We have three players in their nineties in the senior league that I play in. So, there’s no excuses. Go out and enjoy a day in the sun. And, if you want, don’t keep score. That works, too.

Health problems abound in older adults. Health management is crucial for the elderly since there is a gripping goal to extend the life span. As people reach the sunset of their lives, they are confronted with problems especially in their health. As adults age, they are more susceptible to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and dementia. They may have a health condition that may lead to a serious health problem. It may cause premature death if not well managed. As such, seniors often are subjected to the care of another individual. They may be getting their healthcare from a hospital facility or in an assisted living facility. In such case, caregivers are needed. They are there to ensure the careful management of health and proper healthcare to seniors as they age gracefully.

Caregivers are employed to improve or maintain the quality of life. One of the most common health issues facing the elderly is dementia. As caregivers, knowing more about this condition is key to ensuring that the elderly is receiving the best care possible.

The Crucial Role of Caregiving a Dementia Patient

Dementia - A Caregivers GuideCaring for other people suffering from dementia can be a daunting task for caregivers. A standard solution for a condition may lead to another problem. There are some drugs that interact with other drugs leading to a dangerous spiral. This can be true among patients with multiple health challenges.

If you are a caregiver with a ward suffering from dementia, it is important to understand the disease. Gaining understanding of the condition and to learn what it is all about can be helpful in providing care to the elderly.

What is Dementia?

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has set a definition for dementia by saying that it is “the loss of cognitive functioning-thinking, remembering, and reasoning.” It is sometimes a case of behavior challenges. This is because the senior may not be able to move or function the way he or she did before.

Another definition offered by the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke said dementia is not a single disease. The institute said it is more of a general term indicating a wide variety of brain health problems, which in turn may impact normal brain function.

Factors that Increase One’s Risk for Dementia

Dementia is a condition that is pretty rare among people under 60. It becomes more common as people age. About seven percent of people over 60 years old have dementia. Almost a third of people over 85 years old deal with the disease.

Dementia is increasingly common in later life. As one’s age increases his risk for dementia will also do the same. There are also diseases that may either increase the risk or cause the development of dementia. Parkinson’s Disease, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies and delirium are just some of the conditions that raise the risk for dementia among senior people.

As we talk about dementia, we normally link it with Alzheimer’s Disease, which may grow worse as time goes on. Not all dementias have Alzheimer’s Disease and not all dementias are progressive. Causes of dementia may include chronic alcoholism, the growth of brain tumors or strokes. There are also some who suffer from dementia as a result of side effects from medications. There are some cases of dementia, however, that are reversible.

Symptoms of Dementia

There are many types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the most common, and vascular dementia. Some other types may include frontotemporal disorder and Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is a complex health problem in which the symptoms may not be the same in everyone afflicted. The brain is the organ most affected by dementia, as such, the impact is on the ability of a person to carry out everyday tasks and do normal activities.

Dementia health problems may include memory loss, personality changes, the decline of cognitive function among others. There are some people with symptoms who may not have dementia. Doctors often diagnose people with dementia only if there are two or more symptoms present, and other possible causes have been ruled out. There are dementia-like symptoms, which may disappear after dealing with treatment.

There are three stages of dementia and with their corresponding symptoms. Mild dementia is characterized with getting lost, losing things, trouble handling simple tasks such as remembering to pay the bills or a slight change in behavior. Moderate is seen with people with erratic behavior, trouble recognizing people especially relatives, confusion, and increased memory loss. Severe, on the other hand, may be characterized with loss of bowel control, skin infections, and the patient may have difficulty speaking.

Managing Dementia in the Elderly

It is best for people with relatives suffering from dementia to look for a geriatric specialist to control and manage the brain disease. Early detection and evaluation can help slow down the progression of the disease. As a caregiver, it is also important to know how to care for the sick especially if the form of dementia has been ruled as incurable.

Research is ongoing to find a cure for dementia. As of the moment, dementia is incurable. The only thing that can be done is to manage the symptoms or to slow down its progression. There are rare cases that it may be curable. But, that may be a long shot and would depend on so many factors. As far as the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, there is no known cure of the moment. It is best, as a caregiver, to network closely with the patient’s doctor in managing its symptoms and prevent it from worsening too quickly.

It is going to help for any caregiver to understand what dementia is all about. Caregivers may lose patience when the patient starts to yell. People who provide care for the elderly shouldn’t lose patience and should never take the situation personally. This is because the unwelcome behavior may be the effect of the disease on the patient and there is very little control over the behavior at that point in time.

Coping Tips For Caregivers Of People With Dementia

People who provide care to people with dementia need to cope well by learning certain tips such as the following.

Set attainable goals.

Caregivers give their all to the patients and this may not be a good thing. Instead, it is best to have realistic and attainable goals. There are times caregivers are striving for unrealistic goals, which may only cause frustration and exhaustion on the part of the caregiver. It is best to have a realistic goal that is minimal. An example is the goal of keeping the patient clean and comfortable at all times. It is a good goal to aim in assuring the patient is nourished by getting well fed. Realize the success rate may always be at less than 100 percent.  Caregivers able to reach attainable goals are happier and will not spend time fretting about unattainable goals. Although it may be difficult, but it is best to have achievable goals than to aim at goals that will never happen in the first place.

Focus on the patient’s basic health care needs.

Since conditions may not have cures, it is best to keep the patient healthy to prevent secondary health problems from occurring. There are ways to keep the risks of strokes which is a risk among people with dementia. Caregivers can encourage the patients to do more exercise. They need to see to it that the patient is eating right. Have their blood sugar and blood pressure constantly monitored. Diet is another thing caregivers should be looking at. Many people get strokes because of inappropriate diet for seniors. The use of drugs can also control certain factors such as the rise in cholesterol levels. It is best to open up these things with the doctor. This way the risks of strokes and the co-occurence of other medical conditions can be avoided.

Be extra sensitive to the patient’s changing mental and physical needs.

People with dementia may have difficulty in understanding verbal and non-verbal cues. This may cause anxiety and stress both ways. It is best for caregivers to be straight to the point in communicating with the patient. Be clear and concise when providing instructions and communicating with the patient. There could be a need for a mountain of patience since it may happen that one needs to repeat the same words over and over to get a point across with a person with dementia.  It is best to reduce distractions and noise when trying to communicate with a person with dementia. Never make the conversation more confusing to the patient, use names, rather than pronouns when dealing with persons in the exchange of ideas.

Don’t take it personally.

It is important to remember, especially for the caregivers, the behavior of the patient has a reason. The patient may not have complete control of the behavior which may be exhibited. Never take it personally when the patient suddenly shouts or strikes. The person may not generally intend to act that way or to cause injury to another person. They don’t intend to hurt as they try communicate a need. It’s likely that they may just be trying to say something which they can’t voice out in words and they end up venting out their frustrations, which cannot be expressed in any other way. There is a need to look at the world from their point of view. By understanding the behavior, the caregiver is able to prevent an emotional crisis from his or her own vantage point.

Help the patient live a normal life as much as possible.

The key thing here is to make things as normal as possible. As a caregiver, continue to socialize and to engage in light banter. There is a need to make the seniors as comfortable as possible especially later in life. There are social situations the seniors with dementia may struggle with. Caregivers need to make sure the elderly with dementia are able to remain physically active and socialize more. There are many activities that may be enjoyable for both the caregiver and the patient. Learn new hobbies and try to complete tasks with the patient, which may be something that is worthwhile done in tandem.

Find a way to make the situation less stressful for you and the patient.

As a caregiver, it may be helpful to help the senior with dementia to discuss and remember things in the past. This may help in exercising the mind as you evoke pleasant memories. This can make the patient feel better and more comfortable. Memories of the past may not be something that can cure, but it will surely make the elderly feel better. Looking at past photographs or talking about travels with friends and family can be a starting point. Continue to encourage the elderly to share experiences and freely express feelings. This is surely an enjoyable moment for both the patient and the caregiver and also to strengthen the bond with loved ones.

Be prepared for the worse.

Caregivers need to remember there are types of dementia that are progressive. They become worse over time. The symptoms may grow worse over time. As such you need to get reminded to be steadfast and to anticipate the changes as they appear. If there are strategies that seem no longer working, ditch them. Connect with the patient’s doctors to learn how to handle things. It is rather difficult for anyone to put up with behavioral challenges.

Don’t forget the patient’s safety and security.

As a caregiver, it is your primary responsibility to ensure the safety of the senior. They may end up more forgetful and they may get lost. It is best to remain flexible and apply the right interventions as they fit. There may be a need to increase the level of supervision a caregiver may provide to the senior as needed. It is an ongoing challenge balancing out supervision of the senior while allowing for acceptable levels of independence. The safety of the senior is of the utmost importance so working out a supervision plan that anticipates a certain amount of the senior’s spontaneous behavior will help keep the senior safe while minimizing caregiver stress.