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tips for traveling with older people

Six Tips for Aging Travelers

Just because someone’s reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they can no longer travel. Traveling with aging loved ones just take a little more planning and preparation. These tips for aging travelers will make traveling and vacationing more comfortable and less stressful for all involved.

There’s No Age Limit on Travel

By Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member

 

Whether you have fond memories of lazy days on the beach or adventures in exotic locales, now that your loved one is getting older taking a family vacation may seem difficult. You may even wonder if your days of family vacations are over.

While your family vacation will be different than before, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel with an aging loved one. Let’s explore some tips to make vacationing easier for the older traveler.

1. Schedule a check-up.

An important first step is to make sure your loved one is cleared for travel by his or her primary care doctor, especially if they have a health condition that requires accommodation. Visiting the doctor before travels allows time to assess and address any medical conditions that could hinder travel plans.

If travel is taking you out of the country, your loved one may need vaccines recommended for the countries being visited. Check the Center for Disease Control for the most updated information on necessary shots required for specific countries. Take this information with you when you visit the doctor.

2. Compile a list of medications in advance.

Ask the doctor for specific travel tips as well as any necessary medications. In addition to keeping up  regular medication regimen while traveling, the doctor may also recommend additional medications such as remedies for motion sickness, altitude illness, or diarrhea. Remember – it’s important to watch out for possible drug interactions between daily medications and any new medications that are recommended for travel!

If you are checking luggage, it’s recommended to travel with medications in a carry-on in case checked luggage is lost. Pack enough medicine for the duration of the trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays.  Additionally, if your loved one has health concerns and you are traveling out of the country you may want to consider purchasing a travel health insurance package.

3. Strategize your flight times.

Older adults may not have the stamina to handle multiple connections and/or travelling early morning or late at night.  Booking a nonstop flight reduces travel time, while planning a mid-morning or early afternoon departure can help avoid fatigue before you’ve reached your destination.  Anticipate your loved one might be anxious about the travel experience, so talk to their doctor about a mild anxiety medication. Even the most experienced travelers can find travel to be an anxiety-inducing experience.

4. Request assistance ahead of time.

Before you travel, consider accommodations your loved one may need. Does he or she use a wheelchair or need special seating? You can request an escort from airport staff to help get your loved one to their seat, stow their bags, or simply enjoy the ease of boarding before other passengers.

Seniors are able to request assistance in the airport from the time they arrive to the time they board,  and can request assistance getting to the gate by asking at the check-in desk for a ride on a cart or assistance with a wheelchair. Additionally, seniors requiring special assistance can board before other travelers through priority boarding.

Don’t forget to plan for accommodations at the destination as well! Contact hotels or tour companies to make sure they can handle your needs.

5. Plan activities sparingly.

When traveling with an older loved one you may have to take it slower than you normally would, accounting for time to rest and relax . Everyone is different, but in many cases planning just one activity before lunch is enough and include downtime between lunch and dinner. This same schedule often works well for families with young children, so inter-generational travel can work out surprisingly well!

Think about planning indoor activities, whether to account for possible bad weather or extreme temperatures, or because your loved one simply doesn’t feel up to going out one day.  Building in time for watching old movies, playing card games, or creating a memory book of your travels are all possible activities.

If your loved one receives care at home and you will be traveling without hired assistance, speak with the caregiver  to get some ideas about things they like to do, as well as their daily routine. And don’t forget to ask about favorite foods and snacks!

6. Consider hiring help.

An Aging Life Care Professional™ can help you develop a personalized plan for your travels including identifying potential challenges and options to make the best of your travels – even with medical and functional challenges. For example, a care manager can help connect you with companion help at your destination, secure durable medical equipment, and ensure you have appropriate documentation and accommodations in case of emergencies.

Finally, don’t forget to have the time of your life.  Safe travels!

 

About the author: Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC is the Lead Training Consultant with SeniorBridge. She  has been a social work professional in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations for the past 30 years and a member of ALCA since 2008. She is a highly skilled Aging Life Care™ Manager, as well as a lecturer and educator. You can email Patricia at pcharles@seniorbridge.com and follow SeniorBridge on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

image: Stock illustration ID: 387417733

Aging Life Care Managers Find Solutions to Challenging Aging Life Care Questions

Challenging Aging Life Care Needs

The long-term care journey is confusing. As a spouse, family member, or concerned neighbor of an aging loved one you may feel overwhelmed by the role of caregiver or decision-maker.  And if you were placed in this role as a result of an emergency health crisis or due to an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, the questions and decisions grow more complicated.

Often we are “too close” to a situation or problem to see clearly. In this video, Aging Life Care Professional™  Amy O’Rourke illustrates how a holistic approach and assessment found the simple answer to a complicated elder care situation. Having a professional, third-party assessment not only resolved housing needs but also revealed possible unnecessary medical treatment.

Finding Answers to Difficult Elder Care Needs

Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers through:

  • Assessment and monitoring
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Education and advocacy
  • Family caregiver coaching

To find an Aging Life Care Professional to help you find the answers to complicated questions, visit aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Your Aging Parents are at Risk of Fraud during Tax Season: What you can do about it!

Protect Aging Parents from Tax Scams

Being caught in tax scams can happen to anyone even though most of us think we’re too smart to get fleeced.  Unfortunately, even the most cautious person can get ripped-off.  When older adults are defrauded, the effects can be devastating. With tax season officially underway, here’s what you need to know to protect aging parents from tax scams.

Your Aging Parents are at Risk of Fraud during Tax Season: What you can do about it!

by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

One insidious fraud making the rounds during tax season involves IRS impersonators.  Swindlers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card, money order or a wire transfer. They threaten those who refuse to pay with a grand jury indictment, immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

The Treasury Inspector General, J. Russell George warns, “As the tax filing season begins, it is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees”. He described the imposters as, “aggressive and relentless.” The TIGTA created this flyer to warn taxpayers against impersonation scams.

Aging makes us more vulnerable to being cheated

Researchers have shown that older people are especially vulnerable to being cheated. According to a study by Shelley E. Taylor, a professor of psychology at UCLA, changes in our brains as we age cause us to miss common cues that someone is untrustworthy.[1]  In another study, Larry Jacoby, professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, found that older adults are far more likely than the younger adults to believe and “falsely remember” misinformation as correct thus leaving them more vulnerable to getting scammed.[2]

Despite the fact that older people are at high risk of being swindled, the FBI notes they are less likely to report being defrauded than younger people because they:

  • Don’t know who to report it to
  • Are too ashamed at having been scammed
  • May not know they have been conned
  • Are concerned about losing their independence if someone finds out
What you need to know about the IRS process

If there is a problem with a person’s taxes, the IRS issues notices by mail – not by phone. The IRS will never ask for payment by phone using a prepaid debit card, money order or wire transfer. Nor will they ask for a credit card number over the phone, request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media.

Don’t become a victim

Even the most cautious person can get ripped-off so remain vigilant, regardless of your age. Protect yourself and your parents by learning common tactics used by tax scam artists. Talk to your parents about the tricks and remind them that thieves often call or contact their victim several times to evaluate their memory and openness to their ploy.  The bad guys are looking for weakness and an opportunity to strike.

You can spot IRS imposters because they will:

  • Utilize an automated robocall machine
  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
  • May know the last four digits of the victim’s social security number
  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling
  • Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested
  • Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam
  • Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim

If you or your parents are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Forward scam e-mails to phishing@irs.gov
  • Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails
  • If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
The cost of being scammed is enormous for aging adults

Financial exploitation of any kind takes a heavy toll on vulnerable adults. Unlike younger people, older retired victims are not usually able to earn money to replace their losses. Seniors who are defrauded out of significant resources could risk losing their homes and may not be able to afford to buy medications or food. As a result, chronic medical conditions can become exacerbated and may lead to hospitalization from the stress of being victimized.  Some victims experience severe depression and premature death; others have to apply for state assistance programs to survive after being fleeced.  All of these factors highlight the need to report scams and financial exploitation to the authorities so they can investigate and arrest perpetrators.  Reports of tax scams also result in greater media attention and consumer education.

Aging Life Care Professionals™ – A powerful tool to combat fraud

If your parent is isolated, frail, cognitively impaired, or lives far away from you, hiring an Aging Life Care Professional may be one of the most powerful protection tools available. These professionals can deter abuse and exploitation through ongoing oversight. They will report abuse and exploitation if it occurs, make follow up calls, advocate on behalf of the older person, and make sure the victim gets emotional support as they go through the legal process. To find your own Aging Life Care Professional go to aginglifecare.org.

About the author:  A Fellow of the ALCA Leadership Academy, Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Jullie Serves on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Washington State. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at jgray@agingwisdom.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Caregiving Solutions

An Aging Life Care Professional™  shares how his creative solutions helped a daughter honor her mother’s wishes by keeping her father living safely at home. Finding caregiving solutions for your specific situation is what Aging Life Care Professionals do best. 

Finding the Right Caregiver Makes a Big Difference

Caring for an aging loved one can be a stressful, emotional roller-coaster. Add to that the responsibility of honoring your dying mother’s wishes that your father not be placed in a living facility, and you may find yourself pulling out your hair.

That’s how Sally felt when she finally met Aging Life Care Professional™ Steven Barlam via her Elder Law Attorney. Here Steve shares how his creative solutions to finding Sally’s father a caregiver made all the difference in keeping her father living safely at home.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU NEED AN AGING LIFE CARE PROFESSIONAL?

When caregiving for an aging family member becomes overwhelming, it may be time to contact an Aging Life Care Professional.

You may need an Aging Life Care Professional if the person you are caring for:

  • has multiple medical or psychological issues
  • is unable to live safely in their current environment
  • is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy
  • is confused about their own financial and/or legal situation
  • has limited or no family support

Or if your family:

  • has just become involved with helping the individual and needs direction about available services
  • is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions
  • has limited time and/or expertise in dealing with the individual’s chronic care needs and does not live close by
  • is at odds regarding care decisions
  • needs education and/or direction in dealing with behaviors associated with dementia

If you are looking for an Aging Life Care Professional in your area, aginglifecare.org includes a searchable directory of our members. These experts can do for you what Steve did for Sally and her father.

About the author: Steven Barlam, MSW, LCSW, CMC is an Aging Life Care Professional and Fellow of the Leadership Academy. Barlam is the Executive Vice President of Care Coordination and Co-Founder of LivHOME – provider of in-home care solutions. 


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

I am an only child caring for aging parents

Only Child Caring for Aging Parents

Speaking as a third generation, only daughter and experienced Aging Life Care Professional™, I have many thoughts on an only child caring for aging parents. Perhaps being an only child propelled me to a career in Aging Life Care™ management.

I’m an Only Child. How do I Care for My Aging Parents?

by Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC — Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

 

As a social worker with significant experience in geriatric mental health, home care, and nursing home consultation, I experienced the spectacular crash of my own parents. I knew just what to do, based on my professional experience, but emotionally it was so overwhelming. I know there are so many people just like me but don’t know where to turn or find support.

I was fortunate to live in the same metropolitan area as my parents. My mother suffered from many chronic physical illnesses and my father had dementia, though denied by mother. When my mother broke her hip and was sent to a local hospital, she sent my father home with a note, “Bring nightgown. Call Suzie.”

My father spent the next day calling Boston area hospitals looking for my mother. He finally landed in the social work office of a hospital where she was not a patient. Fortunately, a clever social worker located me. I picked him up and thus began the crisis phase of being an only child. My father could not be alone and my mother could not return to their home with stairs.

If you are an only child, you may have known many positives, specifically all that attention. And you know the negatives — all that attention.  Now, you may be the only person paying attention to your parents as they age.

Hopefully, you’ve planned ahead and you are designated as health care proxy and Power of Attorney for each of your parents, or at least backup as they may wish to designate each other. This makes navigating the road ahead much easier.

One positive of being an only child is you may end up being the sole decision maker in many challenging situations. For instance, when I was complaining about breaking up my parents’ home of more than fifty years, my mother said, “You are lucky. If you had a sister you would be fighting over the china.”

Of course, most decisions are more difficult than what to do with the china. They run the gamut from arranging care at home to considerations of alternate care settings to complex medical decisions to financial planning. You may have extended family who can help, but things will always come back to you. You need to arrange support for yourself. That may be asking your spouse to take on extra tasks at home or arranging additional childcare.

Perhaps the best decision of all would be to hire an Aging Life Care Professional™. Whether you are a long-distance caregiver or busy with tasks closer to home, there is great value in having a knowledgeable adviser. Aging Life Care Professionals have encountered many situations like yours – from the simple to the extremely complicated. S/he will know the local resources and options, as well as have a good sense of what to look out for down the road. Aging Life Care Professionals are particularly important to only children as they are excellent sounding boards, voices of reason, and emotional support.

You can locate an Aging Life Care Professional near you by visiting the Find an Aging Life Care Expert search page.

About the author: Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC is an Aging Life Care Specialist™ in Brookline, MA who works with families to find solutions to complicated elder care problems. She has been a leader in the Aging Life Care Association and quoted extensively in the media as seen on her website modiglianigeriatrics.com.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

warning signs to look for during holiday visits

What to Look for When Visiting Aging Parents this Holiday

Visiting aging loved ones this holiday is a great opportunity to poke around the house and look for signs that he or she may need some extra TLC. These tips tips from the experts in aging well can help you start an important conversation. 

To Grandmother’s House We Go

by Amy Smialowicz Fowler, BA, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member

Most of us really do travel over the river and through the woods to see our loved ones during the holiday season. While Skype, Facetime, and phone calls are important, they reveal only a snapshot of what is going on with aging family members. Spending time in their home provides an accurate picture of their daily life and indicate that things are changing.  When visiting the elderly this holiday season, keep these warning signs in mind:

  • Is the fridge full of outdated or rotting food? Are the shelves of the pantry empty?
  • Has the coffee table become an avalanche of papers, especially bills?
  • Could you start a pharmacy from all the of pills (current and expired)?
  • Does the car have new bumps, scrapes or scratches since your last visit? Is the registration sticker up to date?
  • Do you notice numerous upcoming doctor appointments on the calendar and your loved one is not able to explain why they are seen?

Any of these warning signs highlight possible changes in a loved one’s life and condition. It may be related to physical changes making shopping and housekeeping more difficult. It could also expose the beginnings of cognitive impairments.  And don’t forget to look for these risks that could lead to debilitating falls:

  • Are throw rugs placed throughout the house, hallways dark at night or small pets underfoot?
Thankfully there are resources to help you and your loved one get back on track.
  • Home care agencies can provide light housekeeping and assist with grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, and running errands.
  • Daily money managers will unravel issues caused by unpaid bills and can provide constant monitoring and financial oversight.
  • Expired and unused medications can be taken to your local sheriff’s office for proper disposal. Automatic pill dispensers can be filled several times a month to ensure that your loved one is only taking the medications (and amount) prescribed.
  • Having discussions with loved ones about their driving can be difficult, so you can utilize local driver evaluation clinics to provide a third-party assessment of their skills.
  • Throw rugs will need to be taken up,and adding inexpensive nightlights throughout the house can decrease the potential for falls.
  • Doctors’ offices have their own versions of HIPAA forms that your loved one can fill out authorizing you to speak with their medical providers. (HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which protects data privacy regarding medical information.) They will likely feel relieved that you are engaged with their health care and happy to give you authority to call providers for clarification on appointments and results of tests and to get questions answered.

Even with all these resources, it may be necessary to have a local professional keep a pulse on the situation. An Aging Life Care Manager™ can provide that individualized support and ensure your loved one is connected to the most appropriate and cost effective resources. Plus, they will keep you apprised of changes so that action can be taken before there is a crisis.

During this holiday season, enjoy your time with loved ones and make sure that they are living life to their fullest. Your engagement can make a difference and ensure they are healthy and safe.

Amy Smialowicz Fowler is a care manager, certified, and owner of WNC Geriatric Care Management. To learn more about Amy, visit wncgcm.com. This article was originally written for and published by the Asheville Citizen-Times.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

gift ideas for aging adults

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Seniors

The last few shopping days are here and you’ve found yourself stuck thinking about what to give that special elder in your life. Here are some different and thoughtful holiday gift ideas for seniors that won’t clutter the house or require  an  engineering degree to assemble. 

Thoughtful Gift Ideas for the 80+ Adult

by Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC — Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

Many older adults say they really don’t need anything, but you feel you should give them a gift. What should it be?   Mom and Dad have the sweater you gave them last Christmas still hanging in the closet with the tags on…they say they want to save it for a special occasion.

Here are some gift ideas for seniors that are just a little bit different:

1. Pre-plant a large pot with spring blooming bulbs and help them place it where it will get the rain it needs now and necessary sun in the spring.

2. Buy tickets to an afternoon concert in a small, easy-to-access venue (a local college or church). Include a gift card for lunch at a favorite spot.

3. Make a scrapbook of pictures of you and your siblings as children over the years and add comments of “gratitude” on the pages about your memories of that day or event. What you remember might be different than what your parent remembered.

4. Give an iPod programmed with music from the time your parents were young adults. Include a good pair of headphones (not earbuds) and teach them how to use it.  This is also a great gift for those with dementia. If your loved one resides in a living facility or at home with caregivers, teach the caregivers and aides how to use the iPod and ask that they have music time once a day.

It is important to realize and understand that an aging adult’s inability to reciprocate gift giving often makes them feel “bad.” You being creative and sensitive to those seniors who express not wanting gifts shows respect, not lack of love.

About the author:  Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, is the Founder and President of Eldercare Services in Walnut Creek, CA. She is also a partner of the VillagePlan. Linda is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy and a past-president of the Aging Life Care Association™. Linda has more than 30 years experience working as a Care Manager. You can reach her at linda@EldercareAnswers.com, or connect with her via social media: FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

holidays with the elderly

10 Ideas to Celebrate Holidays with the Elderly

Your aging loved one may be slowing down, but it doesn’t mean grandma or grandpa doesn’t want to celebrate the holidays anymore. Finding ways to modify holiday traditions or by creating new ones that fit their lifestyle and speed will reduce stress levels and keep everyone connected and happy this season.

10 Caregiving Tips at Holiday Time

by the New England Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association™

 

The experts in aging well of the New England area offer these ten ideas to help caregivers celebrate the holidays with the elderly.

1. Visit early in the day to avoid sundown syndrome.

Sundowning” refers to a state of confusion at the end of the day and into the night.  By respecting your loved one’s daily routine, you can help prevent triggering confusion or anxiety.

2. Look at photo albums together.

Looking at pictures is a great way to spend time with both the young and old. The stories shared are true treasures.

3. Play familiar board games.

Board games exercise the mind while entertaining. Today, there are many games that are designed for especially for aging adults.

4. Bring your pet to visit.

If you (or someone you know) has a calm, loving animal that is good with people, bring it for a visit. Pet therapy is being incorporated into many assisted living and nursing home communities across the world.

5. Enjoy her favorite music CD or TV program.

Studies show that playing familiar music has the capability to calm, soothe, and even trigger memories for many dementia patients. While it may not seem like a grand activity, the companionship and shared time are what’s important. (https://musicandmemory.org/)

6. Make a holiday craft together.

Be sure to take into consideration the physical and mental capabilities of your loved one when selecting a craft activity. Pinterest is a great source for ideas.

7. Take a walk together.

Sometimes a little change of scenery is medicine for the soul. If weather permits, go outside and breathe in some fresh air and watch the clouds. Can’t go outside? Then take time to stroll around inside and talk about the pictures on the walls or about memories associated with specific rooms or furniture.

8. Plan on brief visits with children.

Seeing the holidays in through the eyes of children is magical. But in small spaces or during hectic days, sometimes children’s excitement can be overwhelming. Make sure to select a time of day when both children and grandma are at their best (ex. avoid meal and nap times). Depending on the age of the children, incorporate their visit with a craft activity or board game.

9. Serve sparkling cider and gingerbread.

Turn a visit into a small celebration and serve festive, holiday themed snacks.

10. Decorate a small Christmas tree.

Whether you decide to craft a few ornaments or select a few family keepsakes to hang on the tree, the time spent together is the true gift.

holidays with the elderly

For more tips on celebrating the holidays with the elderly,  you may be interested in these articles:

About the author: The New England Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association™ represents Aging Life Care Professionals™ working in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Quebec. To find an expert in aging well and to learn more about the New England Chapter, visit their website or follow on Twitter or Facebook


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Loneliness linked to declining health in aging adults

Social Isolation and Loneliness

Ask anyone for their top advice about living a long, healthy life and you’ll probably hear tips about the importance of eating well, stopping smoking, exercising and getting regular medical checkups. Don’t throw those good habits out the window; but, it may come as a shock to learn that connecting with others may be the single most important ingredient for aging well.

The Most Surprising Secret to Aging Well

by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

 

Researchers have been studying the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health and well-being for many years. Over and over it has been proven that social support acts as a buffer against illness and cognitive decline. Loneliness and seclusion is thought to be as bad as or worse for your health than smoking, obesity or being an alcoholic. Put simply, loneliness breeds illness and early death.

How to spot problems

How can you tell if your parent is at risk of isolation? There are telltale signs that may indicate a need for extra support:

  • Living alone
  • Family living at a distance
  • Poor hearing and/or vision
  • Memory loss or other cognitive problems
  • Difficulty getting around (trouble walking, unable to drive or access transportation)
  • Significant life changes such as the recent loss of a partner or moving to a new home
Protecting health by connecting

Why is being around others so important to well-being? Social connectedness increases resistance to disease. Older people who regularly interact with family, friends and participate in social activities report better emotional and physical health and show improvement performing some mental tasks. Those with strong social ties require less pain medication after surgery and recover more quickly. They also fall less often, are better nourished and have a lower risk of depression.

Contact with others can feed the spirit by bringing meaning and purpose to each day. It’s reciprocal – both parties benefit. Regardless of one’s age, when we are around others we give and receive support as well as hands on assistance.

Tips for connecting

There are numerous ways older people can connect. Here are just a few:

  • Visiting children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors
  • Participating in faith activities, services, studies and social events
  • Signing up for trips sponsored by local community centers
  • Volunteering at schools, hospitals or local non-profit organizations
  • Taking classes or attending lectures at local libraries, schools and other community venues
  • Joining a book group or social club

These activities can help your parents develop deeper relationships with others who have similar interests and passions. They can expose them to new people, projects and ideas, and help foster confidence, and direction in their lives. If your dad becomes involved with a cause that is important, it helps him keep life in perspective and reminds him that he has a lot to offer the world.

What if your mom can’t get out anymore? Bring activities to her. Set up a schedule of visitors made up of family, friends or paid companions. Modify activities to match her abilities. Reach out to a professional to help design an individualized program if you don’t know what to do or have trouble implementing a plan.

Is there a downside?

Even though there is an undeniable connection between having robust social ties and good health, no single type of support is uniformly effective for all people and all situations. Unneeded or the wrong kind of help may reduce your mother’s sense of independence and self-esteem. Preventing her from doing things on her own can lead to a state of “learned helplessness” – loss of confidence and less willingness to try things independently.

Working with an expert

Aging Life Care Professionals™ (also known as a geriatric care managers) are trusted advisors who can thoroughly evaluate your mom’s (or dad’s) situation and provide you with knowledgeable advice about how to help:

  • reduce social isolation;
  • provide just the right kind and right amount of help;
  • arrange individualized activities and companion services;
  • overcome barriers such as resistance to change; and,
  • open doors to possibilities you may never have imagined.

A care manager can also become your eyes and ears by:

  • making regular visits to check in on your parent
  • monitoring your parent’s health and addressing concerns when they arise

With the help of an Aging Life Care Manager you can more easily stay on top of your mom’s situation and rest a little easier knowing she is getting the vital support she needs.

To find your own professional advisor, go to www.aginglifecare.org and click on “Find an Expert”.

About the author:  Jullie Gray is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy, and has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of the Aging Life Care™ Association. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at jgray@agingwisdom.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

help senior citizens get ready for severe winter weather

Aging Adults Need a Winter Storm Emergency Plan

With winter storm Caly bearing down coast to coast, severe weather — snow, freezing temperatures, ice,  or heavy rains — greatly impacts the safety and well-being of the elderly. Here are some tips from the experts in aging well, Aging Life Care Association™ to help aging adults get ready for winter weather.

Before a Storm
  • Stay Informed and sign-up for severe weather alerts through your local city or state resource
  • Refill prescriptions and have an extra supply of other medical necessities
  • Buy extra food, including non-perishables, and bottled water (and don’t forget pet food or supplies if needed)
  • Keep vehicles filled with gas and have tires checked for safety
  • Clear debris from downspouts and gutters
  • Have trees inspected and remove any dead limbs
  • Have evacuation routes planned with identified medical centers
  • Identify an individual or company to shovel snow from driveways, stairs
  • Make sure outside furnace vents are clear and carbon monoxide alarms are working
  • Inspect outside plumbing, insulating any exposed pipes
Prepare for Power Outages
  • If using oxygen, bi-pap, c-pap or other equipment, you will need a generator
  • Purchase battery operated, plug-in lights that automatically turn on when the power goes out
  • Make sure you have working flashlights within reach and extra batteries
  • Keep cell phones charging so you have a full charge at power loss
Plan for Caregivers
  • If you rely on caregivers, consider the following:
  • Arrange for a live-in caregiver
  • Build a relationship with neighbors that may be able to temporarily fill-in
  • Plan temporary or respite stay with a nursing home, assisted living community, or hospice
Safety
  • Keep areas around space heaters clear
  • Use space heaters with automatic shut-off
  • Gas stoves or ovens should never be used as a heating source
  • Do not attempt to climb ladders
  • Do not walk on frozen stairs, sidewalks, or driveways

For more winter weather tips and planning, visit the public safety website of Massachusetts – a state very familiar with severe winter weather.

With knowledge of local resources, An Aging Life Care Professional™ can  build an emergency weather plan for your aging loved one. Find one to consult at aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.