Aging is viewed very differently by people. Some hate it, others embrace it and yet some just accept it as fact. One of the issues of aging is the level of our fitness and stability. You aren’t our grandma and getting old isn’t what it used to be but let’s face it, you didn’t all take such great care of ourselves when you were young. So to that end, let’s look at some serious issues about staying fit as Baby Boomer seniors.
You are strong! You have control over our food intake and exercise patterns. You have taken responsibility for all of that and have learned that you can take care of yourself. Diet and even moderate exercise matters a great deal in growing old. You know, however, that even low movement brings many positive issues with it as you age. Find activities that you enjoy and go with it whether it be bowling, swimming, or walking. Find friends to do it with you and just MOVE. Or better yet, dance. You can do that at home in a bathrobe.
Getting older doesn’t mean you have serious memory issues. Memory loss is a part of growing old. Give yourself a break. Accept that you are not who you “used to be” because none of us are. Each new day is a new you with just a smidge more knowledge than you had yesterday. Don’t cave in to the old adages of growing older.
There are many wonderful options out there for getting involved! More than anything, research suggests that staying connected is a huge factor in aging well. Find activities that you like and then find centers that offer those activities. In some cases, that is much easier said than done … especially after a significant loss. But trust me, staying connected matters. Senior Centers, libraries, volunteering …. It makes life better.
Have fun. Staying healthy as a senior suggests that you have to find activities you enjoy and then do them. Call a friend and go for a hike, join a class, volunteer for a local event … just get out. Coloring has become a new thing again and the great books sell for a few dollars at the retail stores. Who knew you might revert to childhood again! Just have fun.
Twist it up! As you age, you tend to do the same things over and over. So stop that. Easier said than done but you can decide that today “ I am going to do something different”. Life becomes different and joyous.
We are not suggesting you leave your home but even that could be good. Mostly we mean that you should just get up and do something. Dance like no one is watching.
Growing older is an experience none of us prepared for. But for Boomers, it’s not so bad – in fact, for many of us it’s a time to find ourselves again so get out there and enjoy!
With age comes wisdom, right? We also understand that with age come challenges as they relate to aging in place and being able to perform all of the tasks we’ve become accustomed to. Even with this said, aging also brings positive rewards to both the aging and to the caregivers involved.
What are some of the positive aspects of caring for elderly relatives and of aging itself? Here are a few:
Both you and your parents are likely more mellow and that can help with the coping skills necessary for them to rely on you as a caregiver because the reversal of roles is not always an easy thing to deal with.
You can all benefit from the confidence gained by working together. Your aging relatives will see that you are not only competent, but that you have taken the lessons they instilled in you as you were growing up and put them into practice. As a caregiver, you can also see the benefits of the assistance you’re providing your parents – you are able to help them now as they helped you when you were growing up.
If you have grandchildren, having them spend time with you and your aging parents is a great way to deepen their bonds. Grandchildren can help to keep your aging parents “young” and your parents will likely be thrilled to have children in the home. Grandchildren can also help reignite curiosity and playfulness into their lives.
By spending time together – both in the home and outside of it – you’re helping your aging loved ones to broaden their circle of friendships. This is especially true if you’re introducing them to outside activities as a way to keep them healthy, active and engaged.
You may be more motivated to spend time together because, frankly as we age we realize how precious time is and that we need to savor every moment. Your aging parents might be more inclined to volunteer, undertake leisure activities that may have gotten pushed aside during the child-rearing years or they might even want to take a class at the local senior center or college.
Aging is a fact of life, but you can take a proactive and positive approach and welcome the changes that it brings to the lives of both the aging parent and the caregiver.
Aging in place is one of the last bastions of independence for many seniors. If your aging loved ones have been determined to hold onto their independence in this way, you know that equipping them with a personal emergency response system can help them achieve this goal. Investing in a personal medical alarm device should be brought up to your loved ones in such a way as to let them know that using one of these devices isn’t taking away any independence, but is actually assisting them with their desire to age in place.
Many individuals will say they don’t want to wear a personal medical device because they believe it will mean they are “unfit” or “not healthy enough” to live alone. If you share with them that these devices are worn as a preventative measure in the event they suffer a medical emergency or a trip or fall (which is a very real and startling statistic for individuals aged 65 and older) they may see the benefit of wearing one.
How can you appeal to the emotional side of this conversation? Here are some tips:
“It’s a fact of life, Mom and Dad, that people over the age of 65 are more likely to experience a trip or fall” as a way to let them know that if they have a personal medical alarm device, a simple push of the button will provide access to medical care and treatment and therefore they have a better chance at recovery.
“We worry about you.” This statement could be especially true if your parent is widowed and lives alone. Even if both parents are still living, each of them can have a personal medical device and this will provide peace of mind for the family.
“It’s for peace of mind.” If you let your aging loved ones know it’s as much for your peace of mind as it is for their health they may agree to the device as a way to not only allow them to remain independent in their own home, but as a way to provide you peace of mind. It’s a win-win.
If your loved ones are more logical than emotional, here are some logical arguments you can share with them for the importance of having a personal medical device in their home (and on their person):
One out of three individuals aged 65 and older will fall in the home. The longer they lie there without receiving medical care, the more serious the medical complications could become. Being able to press a button to gain access to medical assistance could mean the difference between a positive outcome or a negative one from a fall.
A personal medical device will allow you to age in place. These devices offer you the ability to remain independent while providing access to medical care if needed. In the event of a trip or fall or another medical emergency, you may not be able to reach a phone and with one of these devices, you won’t have to.
If your parents do not want to move into an assisted living facility, you should stress to them that one of these devices may mean they won’t have to. A personal medical device can delay that move for years, or perhaps for the duration of their lives.
If you can explain the viability of a personal medical device and equate it to an insurance policy – it’s something you pay for and hope you never need to use, but you are grateful it’s there if the time arises that you need it – your loved ones may see the benefit.
The longer you live the more money you will have to spend, or conversely, the more money you should start saving now to prepare for living into your 100s. Modern medicine and the fact that many diseases and illnesses are able to be caught and even corrected early means that many of us are living longer, and in many cases, healthier lives.
If you’re hoping to live to be 100, how will you make certain you can afford it? The time is now to look at your finances and prepare for a secure financial life in your Golden Years. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you don’t outlive your money:
Take stock of your spending. Scrutinize your spending for the next 30 days. Track where you’re spending and where you might be able to cut back and put that money into a savings account. It may be easier, and paint a more accurate picture, if you analyze three months’ worth of spending and take an average.
Talk with your CPA to get a snapshot of the amount of money you may need into retirement. Many individuals believe they will spend less money once they’re retired because they won’t have the expenses for food or commuting and other out of pocket expenses; what they don’t plan for is the money spent on hobbies or travel or leisure, now that you have leisure time. You may also see an increase in your family food budget because you’ll be eating more meals at home than in the past.
Save as much money, as often as you can. Check on your investments and, depending on your age, invest either more robustly or conservatively. Your financial adviser is your best point of contact for your investment planning.
Take a look at your lifestyle. Are there items you will want to do once you retire that you don’t now? How much will they cost? Are there activities you do now that you won’t once you retire? How much do they cost? If you plan to travel or take up a new hobby you will want to calculate those costs so you can budget for them. You don’t want to look at retirement as “sitting around the house with nothing to do” time you want to enjoy your Golden Years and pursue hobbies and activities you perhaps didn’t have time for while you were working and raising a family.
Will you be able to afford to live in your own home? Will you need to downsize or even make arrangements to live in a retirement community? What will that cost? Will it make sense for you to invest in long-term care insurance? Talk with a trusted advisor before you make any decisions on this purchase.
Get your paperwork in order. Don’t wait until you need a power of attorney or a healthcare proxy or a will – by the time you need it, it will be too late. Talk with your attorney and your family and get these papers drawn up early so they are in place in the event of a health emergency when you can’t speak for yourself. While it may be a bit morbid, you may want to put your funeral arrangements in writing and even get them planned so that your family won’t have to wonder at what your wishes would have been.
Pay off as much of your debt as possible. It’s best to not have to worry about credit card debt or loans with high interest rates, especially when retirement is drawing near and when your income will likely be lower than it was when you were working.
Taking steps to prepare for living to be 100-years-old is best done when you’re younger and in good health!
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 50,000 people in the United States were 100 years or age or older! It is further expected that the number of people over 100 years old will reach 110,000 by 2037 and those over 80 will reach six million by that same year.
So what is the secret?
Centenarians (folks who reach 100 or older) say that exercise, healthy eating and a good night’s sleep help! Here are a few other suggestions that may help you live a longer, fuller life.
Eat, Pray and Exercise! More than 80% of centenarians say they eat nutritiously balanced meals almost daily compared to 68% of boomers. Furthermore, these folks said that they pray, meditate or have some sort of “spiritual” activity and more than half of each group claims to exercise almost every day! Your chances of reaching the age of 100 increases if you eat lots of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise (5 days a week) and reducing stress, according to a Danish study. The healthier you are, the better you feel. The better you feel, the longer you live.
Laugh. Centenarians laugh or giggle nearly every day! Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance.
Socialize. The majority of baby boomers and centenarians say that they talk to or communicate with friends and family nearly every day. Additionally, reading, crossword puzzles, games keep your brain challenged and more healthy.
Sleep. A good solid night of sleep helps to repair many cells in the body, and potentially add two years to your lifespan.
Relax. Centenarians work at a job or hobby far less than boomers but the key is to relax and enjoy “down-time”.
Groom yourself. Centenarians maintain good oral health as well as continuing the habit of daily bathing or showering. Aging or less activity outside the home should not be good reasons for poor grooming habits.
Take good care of yourself and live a good long life!
Aging is an inevitable fact of life and with aging comes the realization that we may be faced at some point with the inability to live independently. Whether making a move to an assisted living facility or moving into the home of a family member, aging-in-place is a dream that many seniors do not want to give up on.
Are there ways to age “successfully” so that you can stay independent? Are there steps you can take today (regardless of your age) to assure that you are healthy, remain active, and are able to live in your own home for as long as possible? Yes. There are steps you can take, lifestyle changes you can implement and devices you can equip your home with that will make it possible for you to age-in-place for a longer period of time. What does “successful” aging mean? It is a lifestyle that incorporates health and wellness and overall activity into daily routines.
Retirement and aging usually go hand in hand and this can mean a change in household income. Because of diminished income budgeting can become a concern for seniors, but there are ways to successfully age on a budget.
What can you do today, on a budget, that will help you age gracefully? Here are some tips:
Keep your mind active. Read books. Do crossword puzzles. Keep up with daily world events and news in the newspaper or on the Internet. Keeping your brain active and involved could help stave off dementia.
Save money by growing your own vegetables or herbs. Starting a garden, whether you have a large plot of land or will be undertaking container gardening on a patio means you will have something to do daily with caring for the plants. Growing your own also provides ready access to fresh fruits or vegetables and provides heart healthy options for meal choices.
Stay active in your community or church by volunteering and attending activities those groups have planned. Getting out of the house, socializing and being involved in a cause or group you support boosts mental and emotional health and well-being.
Stay in touch with friends and family. It’s easy to “forget” to pick up the phone and call your children or grandchildren. Make a weekly date to touch base. Set aside an hour (or more) and settle in for a chat just to catch up. If you’re internet savvy set up, or have a family member set up, a private family Facebook group where you can talk freely and share family photos without the worry of strangers seeing your information.
Age-proof your house by clearing out clutter, making certain all carpets and rugs are slip proof. Update or upgrade your bathroom with grab bars and non slip surfaces in the bathtub and bathroom floor.
Prepare for health or medical emergencies and offer peace of mind by investing in a home medical monitoring device. Wearing a personal safety device means that at the push of a button, medical help can be summoned. Whether you’re unsteady on your feet or are dealing with other health issues such as diabetes or heart conditions, a medical alert system can be a literal life saver.
Talk with your family members so they are aware of your desire to age-in-place and work with them to make this dream a reality.
Visiting a doctor is usually not high on the top of anyone’s list of “things I love to do,” but in order to maintain good health and retain the ability to age in place, certain medical tests are recommended as are annual check-ups.
Medical guidelines on required testing are continually changing and if you only visit your physician when you’re ill, chances are you are missing out on medical tests that could catch potential medical issues; the earlier they are caught, the earlier they can be treated. Being proactive about your health is the best piece of advice as you age.
Here are some items to discuss with your physician and some tests that should be performed to keep you healthy as you age:
Become diligent in setting up an appointment for an annual check-up. When you only visiting the doctor when you’re ill, that is not the time for him to perform an annual wellness check. During an annual check-up, your doctor will gather information about changes in your overall health, your lifestyle, your living situation, any changes in weight and any other concerns you may have. He may also recommend you get the flu vaccine annually. Other vaccines he may recommend include: shingles, this is a one-time shot given to individuals aged 60 and older; tetanus vaccines are given every ten years; vaccines for pneumonia are recommended for individuals aged 65 and older or for those with compromised immune systems.
Health measurement tests such as having your blood pressure checked and your cholesterol levels monitored are recommended. Your blood pressure is typically checked every time you visit your doctor, should be done at least every two years or annually if your numbers are high. High blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart disease. A baseline cholesterol should be taken at least every five years unless you had a test resulting in elevated numbers.
When is the last time you visited a dentist? You should be seeing him every six months. A professional cleaning will help catch any potential cavities and check for gum disease. Your dental health can be an indicator to your overall health.
Having your eyes checked should be done at least every one to three years or even more often if you are having vision problems or feel you need a new prescription for your glasses. In addition to a vision exam, your eye doctor will also be checking for cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Female-specific testing includes an annual mammogram, unless you are at a higher risk for breast cancer. Your insurance provider and even your gynecologist may debate how often you need a mammogram and she is the best source for advice in this matter. Unless you have had an abnormal pap test, it is recommended to receive a screening every five years.
Bone density tests are recommended for both men, over the age of 70, and women, over the age of 65. A bone density test shows how many minerals and calcium you have in your bones and can let you know whether you are at risk for osteoporosis.
When you reach age 50, you should have a colonoscopy and then one is recommended every five to ten years, depending on the results of the initial test.
Male only testing involves a prostate exam which your doctor will perform when you reach age 50.
Making time to schedule an annual examination with your doctor is an ideal way to not only maintain good health but to catch any potential health issues before they become dire. Prevention can go a long way in your ability to age in place.
As we age, some individuals can become the target for a financial crime, identity theft, home break-in or some other scam. Boomers raised in an era where being rude to a solicitor on the phone or door to door can actually put them in a more vulnerable position. In some cases, those who would perpetrate a crime against the elderly will either rely on charm or bullying tactics to get the information that they seek. While a financial crime is a devastating time for anyone, it can be even worse for the elderly as they may not only question their ability to remain independent but will become fearful of living alone.
As a caregiver, there are steps you can take to protect your elderly loved ones:
Make sure the home is secure. Check the locks on doors and windows. Install a home alarm system with motion detectors and automatic indoor & outdoor lights. Make sure to post signs alerting vandals to the fact that the home has a security system. Another safety measure is to equip your relatives with a emergency medical device; these medical alert pendantsprovide a lifeline to outside help and assistance in the time of need.
Trim all bushes around the house to eliminate any potential hiding places for a would-be burglar. Install doors with peepholes and advise them to not open the door to strangers. Never put keys under a door mat or other outdoor hiding spot. These are too easily discovered. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend that lives close to hold onto the extra key.
Make certain the house number is painted in bright colors and large numbers to make it easy to find if emergency responders need to visit.
Make certain additional cash isn’t left lying around the house. Keep enough cash on hand for daily needs, but keep large sums in the bank.
Warn your elderly relatives to never give any personal or financial information over the phone. Make sure they are aware that no one – other than a family member – would ever be calling to solicit financial information. If your relatives are tech savvy and have signed up for online banking, make sure they are knowledgeable about the scams where it looks like their financial institution is asking them to sign in using the provided link. Their bank would never make this request, it is a scam.
Don’t let your relatives make deals with door-to-door sales people. The scams perpetrated on the elderly involve everything from being overcharged for putting a new roof on the home to sealing the driveway to simply letting someone into the house so they can get the “lay of the land” and break in later. If, for example, your relatives need a new vacuum cleaner or a roof or driveway work, they should talk to you to help them get estimates from reputable contractors or take them to the store to make their purchases.
If your relatives are still mobile and drive themselves to their appointments make sure they never carry more cash with them than what they need for that excursion. Also, advise them to not travel into areas with which they aren’t familiar. They should also always lock their car doors each time they get out. In some cases, it’s a good idea to lock the doors when driving along in unfamiliar locations.
These safety tips that will provide both the caregiver and the aging relative with peace of mind as they continue to age in place.
Because falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the elderly, it is crucial that steps are taken to prevent both falls and the health issues that could lead to a fall. It’s also estimated that close to three million people, aged 65 and older, are treated in the emergency room for falls annually.
Death rates from falls in the elderly rose more than 55% between 1993 and 2003 and that could be because people are living longer, living alone, and are more frail, all factors which increase the likelihood of falls. One of the main reasons cited for admission into nursing homes or assisted living facilities is because of a fall.
As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you remain cognizant of the most common reasons the elderly suffer a fall, they are:
Medications that can cause disorientation, sleepiness or sleeplessness and dizziness
Visual impairment caused by cataracts or glaucoma
Cognitive impairments caused by either Alzheimer’s or dementia
Balance issues which could be caused by mobility issues, loss of muscle strength or diminished flexibility
Blood sugar or blood pressure issues that could lead to dizziness upon standing
If your relatives are determined to remain independent and age in place, there are steps they can take, and you can help them with, to make that a possibility. Here are some steps you can take to help them avoid a fall and help maintain a stronger body:
Eating a balanced diet and drinking milk or getting calcium or Vitamin D from the foods they eat will help keep their bones strong.
Bone-strength building exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobic exercise or resistance training helps build both bone and muscle strength. You should check with their physician first to see if they are healthy enough to undertake an exercise routine. Even if your elderly relatives use a walker or a cane they can still become more active simply by getting up and moving every hour.
Balance can be improved by practicing yoga and daily stretches
Annual hearing and vision exams will detect any issues before they cause a trip or fall accident.
Ask the pharmacist whether any of the medications they take can cause any dizziness issues, especially when used in combination with each other.
Avoid using alcohol as it can interact with medications and add to drowsiness or dizziness
As part of your elderly relatives aging in place, make certain the home has been age-proofed to prevent trips or falls. Here are some measures to take:
Make certain hallways and closets are well lit. Install motion sensor lights with timers that will turn on and off upon entering or leaving a room.
Keep all walkways clear of clutter and power cords
All rugs should be secured to the floor with non-slip tape
A lamp should be next to the bed where it can be easily reached during the night. A touch lamp is a great option and prevents having to fumble around in the dark to find the switch.
All stairways should be in good repair and should have non skid treads on them.
Handrails should be installed on all stairways and even next to the toilet.
Grab bars should be installed in the shower and bathtub.
The bathroom should also have non skid rubber floor mats to prevent stepping onto a wet floor.
Put items that you use regularly within easy reach. Waist height is ideal placement for items in the kitchen and bathroom.
Helping your elderly relatives age-in-place if a gift for all family members. You can also help your relatives remain independent by offering them a home medical alert device. These devices can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a trip or fall or other health emergency.
Remaining independent and aging in place is usually a goal for all adults. Being able to live in the family home and take care of the finances and other household chores is important for both mind and body for the aging senior and their adult children. There may come a time though when the adult children begin to notice signs that their parents are unable to live alone and steps must be taken.
The steps don’t necessarily need to be as drastic as downsizing to a retirement home, but could be as simple as equipping the home with a medical monitoring device. These devices help seniors remain independent for much longer because they not only offer peace of mind but provide access to medical care at the push of a button.
Here are five warning signs that adult children should be aware of and address:
Are the bills delinquent? If there is money available to pay the bills, but they aren’t getting paid on time, there could be any number of reasons. Remaining current on bills, especially the utility bills could mean the difference between having heat and electricity or not. If there has been the loss of one of the spouses, you may find that the deceased spouse had been the one responsible for paying the bills and the remaining spouse is not equipped to take on the role.
Are they spending their money wisely? There are many individuals out there who prey on the elderly either by conning them out of their money or by convincing them to buy goods or services that they simply don’t need. Impress upon your aging parents the fact that they shouldn’t buy anything from anyone that is going door-to-door. They should also not fall prey to individuals that call them and ask for their personal financial information.
Is the house falling into disrepair or is it becoming cluttered? If your parents were at one time scrupulous about keeping the interior and exterior of the home properly maintained and that is no longer happening, it may mean they are in need of assistance with both inside and outside help. If a family member can’t take on the role of caregiver or maintenance person, you may need to hire an individual to take on the task. Check references before hiring anyone and trusting them with your relatives.
Are they making changes to financial accounts? If your parents are opening or closing bank accounts and adding other individuals to these accounts, this should raise a red flag. Also, make certain they are not purchasing or cancelling insurance policies – again these are scams perpetrated on seniors by con artists. There have also been instances where an in-home caregiver has bilked the senior out of funds through fraudulent means. Impress upon your parents the fact that no changes should be made to bank accounts or insurance policies without first talking to family members.
Take the time to run an annual (free) credit report on your parents behalf; this is a great way to monitor their credit for unusual activities and make certain they haven’t been the victim of any identity theft.
It may not be an easy conversation to have with your aging parents as they will want you to believe they are still able to live independently, but if you let them know you’re concerned, chances are you can have an open and honest conversation about their finances and living arrangements. As long as they are aware that you have their best interests at heart, they will be forthcoming.