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Valuable Advice to Perfect a Long-Distance Parent Relationship
Time and distance are rarely a challenge in today’s world, and neither should maintaining a long-distance relationship with your parents. Advancements in technology provide global connections in both business and personal affairs. Much can be accomplished regardless of location: work projects are finished at the beach; degrees are earned from home, and purchases are made while watching TV. However, maintaining personal relationships require more than technology and this is especially true in keeping a quality connection with an aging parent.
Life has a unique way of gradually teaching a family to stay bonded while going from living together involved in each other’s daily lives to moving forward and building separate lives. Managing time and distance is accomplished through phone calls and scheduled visits. Parents adjust their lives from being full-time caregivers to becoming empty nesters. Children begin to take on new responsibilities as they venture on their own.
Then, often without notice, the family roles begin to adjust as a parent ages. This part of your family’s journey will experience some difficult and complicated moments. The challenges are increased when your parent lives far away. The time and distance apart create obstacles not found when families live close together.
The following are tips for building a healthy long-distance relationship with your aging parent.
Communication is Key
Most likely, your daily schedule is busy and finding time to check in and chat is part of a long list of things to do. Nonetheless, it is important to consider your parent’s day is much slower and filled with more quiet time. A phone call from you is a welcome addition to your parent’s day.
A daily check-in also provides important information. Through regular conversations, you will be able to detect changes in your parent’s daily routine, health issues, or household maintenance needs.
Sending letters and cards is a great way to stay in touch and brighten your parent’s day. Including pictures provides a visual connection that is sure to be placed in a frame or on the refrigerator for a daily reminder of the love only family shares.
Depending upon your family situation and your role as a caregiver, it is helpful to gather all involved to discuss important matters pertaining to your parent. This is an opportunity to prepare for a time when your parent will depend upon you more.
The outcome of this conversation should include the location of important documents that pertain to finances and health. It should also include your parent’s preferences if or when more care is needed, such as receiving in-home care or moving to a care facility.
Making a plan for your visits will also help to make the best of your time together. Prior to arriving, discuss what is needed at home and if any appointments will be scheduled. Once you arrive your schedule will include tasks you can help with as well as time set aside for a quality visit.
Along with your parent’s situation, it is helpful to make an emergency plan for yourself. Being prepared for an unexpected visit will help avoid stress. Make a list of what needs to be taken care of at work and home and who you will call to look after your house and any other matter. Check with your employer about available leave as well as taking unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Setting aside money for this situation will also be of great help when the time comes.
Use the internet to research and collect various resources to help your parent. This list can include medical services, the mechanic, grocery delivery services, yardwork help, senior taxi service, etc. It is also helpful to research local in-home care providers in order to respond faster if or when this type of assistance is needed.
Create a directory for your reference that includes contact information of friends and neighbors as well as medical providers and pharmacy. Make sure to meet your parent’s neighbors and friends during a visit and set up an emergency call plan. It is also helpful to have your parent’s written permission for you to discuss medical and financial matters.
Make Use of Technology
Technology cannot replace real time spent talking on the phone or visiting in person; however, it can be used effectively to bridge the distance gap between you and your parent. Having a parent that is technologically savvy is a great advantage. Most likely, your aging parent will need some instruction to incorporate the resources that will aid in your long-distance caregiving and relationship.
Purchasing gadgets similar to the ones you use helps tremendously when trying to troubleshoot long-distance. If that is not possible, familiarize yourself with the technology your parent uses in order to provide the best instructions. These learning sessions will often provide plenty of laughs.
Teaching your parent to talk through the video option on his or her phone will provide a more accurate health update than simply talking on the phone. A face to face conversation also helps you both feel closer. This feature may also be used if your parent participates in a virtual doctor appointment.
Another item that can bring you peace of mind is to set up a virtual assistant, such as Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod. These can provide safeguards such as turning on and off lights, medicine reminders, setting up a contact list, among other features.
An hour or more apart from your aging parent adds to the list of concerns that are associated with this situation. Being an effective caregiver and helping from a distance is possible. During this time, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. Most important is to take advantage of making quality moments spent together.
There comes a time in each person’s life when managing one’s personal finances becomes more complex than saving coins in a change jar. At this point, many seek advice from a financial advisor or a friend or family member that has a reputation for providing wise advice. Financial goals are set and a system is put into place to meet these goals because even as we age financial security is important.
As time goes on, each financial goal has most likely been faced with unexpected challenges creating the common experience of financial stress. Most people have worried about money and their future stability at one time or another. Financial concerns tend to increase as we age. Thoughts of limited time to earn are joined with the increasing cost of living.
Very few people reach retirement fully prepared to meet the financial challenges ahead. When if comes to building a plan for financial security, seniors often need assistance to best manage their finances. They may also need help to avoid financial scams. There are several ways you can help the senior in your life with this situation in order to make a positive difference in his or her quality of life.
Start With Communication
Conversations regarding important topics, such as financial and medical issues, should start with a statement that affirms your senior loved one is the decision-maker. This step presumes your loved one is not in a condition that requires a financial or medical guardian.
It is also necessary to consider that talking about financial security and finances with anyone, most significantly an older adult, is an uncomfortable topic. You, as the person that wants to help, can feel that approaching this topic makes you appear judgmental or even greedy. The older adult may not be ready to admit that he or she needs help and prefer to avoid the topic. Nonetheless, having the money talk before a crisis occurs is best for all involved.
Once the both of you agree to openly discuss the financial situation and have included any other person that should be a part of this conversation, you should be provided with a good understanding of your senior loved one’s financial affairs. From here, you should be able to determine if the outlook is stable and simply needs a plan that meets the anticipated needs and recreational desires of your loved one or it is limited and will require available assistance to adequately meet daily living costs.
Some of the questions you might ask are:
Does he or she want to live in the current house for as long as possible?
Would he or she want in-home care if needed?
Has he or she considered moving to an assisted-living facility if needed?
Does he or she have a will and, if yes, where is it?
Has he or she considered appointing a person with power of attorney over financial affairs in case it would ever be needed?
Once a full understanding of your senior loved one’s finances are established the next step is to gather existing important financial documents. It is recommended by Consumer Reports to consolidate key financial information in a list that includes:
names and numbers of various bank and investment accounts
insurance information (policy numbers and providers)
online access information for any of the above, if necessary
This document, along with other important documents, should be kept in a locked, fire-resistant box and one other person should have knowledge of where the key is placed.
This is a good time to update or create all important legal documents, such as medical power of attorney, wills, living wills, and healthcare directives. An updated list of prescriptions is also helpful.
Create a Plan
Using the documents and information gathered, the next step is to create a long-term plan that provides a budget, financial security, money set aside for household emergencies, and accounts designated for possible health care situations.
This plan will include applying available benefits that offset the cost to your loved one. Benefit situations will be unique to your loved one’s age, work history, and military service. The National Council on Aging provides an internet resource called BenefitCheckUp that points out benefits available in your loved one’s area.
The information collected will provide a strategy to use for future decisions regarding care needs associated with aging. From here, it is advised to start researching local care providers in order to have the best information available when it is needed.
A senior’s budget should take advantage of the many retail and service discounts given to people 55 and over. Help your senior loved one by creating a discount directory that includes places and products he or she regularly goes to or uses.
If your senior loved one’s income is limited and affects food budget decisions, the National Institute on Aging recommends the following for eating health on a budget:
Ask the local grocer about senior discounts and available coupons.
Consider store brands vs. name brands.
Buying in bulk offers the best price.
Focus on economical fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark-green leafy vegetable, green peppers, and regular carrots.
Make sure your senior loved one can enjoy life by participating in fun events. If the budget is a concern, help discover affordable entertainment opportunities by researching local places that appeal to seniors.
Once the financial conversation has begun and a plan is set in place, it is key to stay informed for financial security. Life will always through curveballs and the best of plans will need adjustments when this happens. An organized strategy will help the senior in your life stay on course to meeting all of life’s goals.
Aging Veterans: Helping the Greatest Generation and Beyond
Throughout the year there are special days marked to commemorate and honor those that have served and are currently serving in the Military. It is important to come together as a grateful nation to not only recognize the extraordinary sacrifice a soldier makes but to also establish a commitment to teach future generations of the value his and her service produces in our daily lives. When they are discharged, the veteran returns to his or her regular life but should not be forgotten; aging veterans should be cared for throughout their lives.
Many of us are connected to a veteran through family or friendship and realize their unique experiences. A veteran not only faces the everyday challenges that are common to all of us but also copes with hurdles associated with military service.
A shift in the aging veteran population has been noted over the past few years. A recent study by the National Council for Aging Care stated that currently 38% of veterans are over the age of 65. Similar to the civilian population, this number will increase in the years ahead as the veteran baby boomers reach retirement. Some veterans will move into nursing homes and senior care facilities as they age and visiting them there can provide joy in their day, others may be able to age at home with the help of VA benefits.
It is at this time that every opportunity must be taken advantage of by those of us that are motivated to help this exceptional group. The following list provides ways to support and honor our aging veteran population.
Veteran with photo
There are many volunteer opportunities available at your local VA, Veteran’s Home, American Legion, and VFW. The talents needed are wide-ranging: simple tasks, friendly visits, yardwork, technology instruction, musical lessons and performances, construction projects, administration projects, and driving to appointments are among the list. Check on the internet for local veteran site listings to find the steps to volunteer. Once you take the first step to get involved you will discover many benefits for yourself as well as those you help.
The DAV also provides a list online that connects volunteers to local veterans requesting help. You can discover the opportunities available in your state here.
Donations to veteran organizations and initiatives help in a big way. As mentioned previously, the aging veteran population is increasing and, subsequently, the cost of assisting this population will increase. Supporting dependable and trustworthy organizations that serve veterans can start with the organizations listed above and can be researched online.
The DAV provides a list of ways to give that extends beyond your area VA hospital to help aging veterans. Also, your local American Legion and VFW chapters host many events throughout the year that create opportunities to support and get to know aging veterans living nearby.
Another excellent organization and great opportunity to support older veterans is the Honor Flight Network. Its mission began over 17 years ago “to transport America’s Veterans to Washington, DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.” A donation will help to sponsor a flight and there are volunteer opportunities available as well.
While considering which opportunity best fits your talent and ability, keep in mind the sacrifice of the military family. A veteran’s spouse, child, parent, and sibling often play a vital role in the life of an American soldier. There are also many veteran family-centered organizations available to support.
A valuable way to support our aging veteran population is to ensure that our state and federal legislatures have the highest priority in caring for all those that have served. History has demonstrated that, along with veteran organizations like the DAV, VFW and American Legion, the civilian population has been effective voices for quality veteran care and benefits by holding law makers and administrators responsible. Current initiatives can be found on the DAV site as well as on the national VFW site.
There is no better example of courage, comradery, selflessness, and loyalty in our country’s history than that of the American soldier. It is important to teach future generations about the Greatest Generation and other bands of soldiers. Local veteran museums exist throughout the country and provide a great opportunity to support the story of the American soldier as well as enrich your own knowledge of our country’s military history.
As we approach the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, there will be many programs highlighting the heroic endeavors of this historic event. Encourage the younger people in your life to listen and take note of these stories.
Say Thank You
Will Rogers said “We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Showing up for a veteran’s parade, buying lunch for the veteran seated next to you, and simply saying thank you as you meet a veteran are all ways to express your gratitude.
Enlisting a group of friends and children to write letters to aging veterans located in senior homes or the area VA hospital is another great way to say thank you and bring a smile to a veteran.
Another way to say thank you to a veteran you know is to make a list of the many veteran discounts that are available. Start with some research on the internet and create a useful list that matches services and products that will most likely be used.
Helping our aging veteran population depends on our commitment to be faithful to our pledge to honor and support them. Special holidays provide us with the opportunity to place an emphasis on the actions listed in this article. However, making an effort throughout the year is the best way to help those that rarely, if ever, ask for special assistance or gratitude.
Many people think of home as the place that provides comfort, security, and happiness. It is filled with many of life’s loving memories. The majority of seniors plan to stay living in their home for these reasons along with the desire to maintain their independence. Often veterans may not know they can age at home with VA benefits.
Aging in Place is a concept that supports an older person’s desire to remain at home even when extra help is needed. The good news is that there are many resources available to help a senior stay at home for as long as they are able. The bad news is that seniors are not aware of benefits that connect them to these resources and this is especially true for senior veterans.
This article provides information for those that want to help a veteran pay for home care in order to remain living in his or her own home.
Determine Benefit Status
Veterans and their spouses have many long term care services available to them as long as they are enrolled in the VHA system and as long as they are aware of them. Awareness is often the problem in getting the help needed. As recent as October of 2018, it has been reported that millions of veterans are missing out on benefits because they do not know about them.
These benefits are not being kept a secret; rather, there are many benefits provided for veterans, their spouses, and their children and each one has a set of criteria to determine eligibility and it is a lot of information to convey effectively.
Researching online resources will help get things started. From the basic information you will discover that there is a lot of paperwork along with a long process time in order to receive certain benefits that cover long term care. However, this benefit is a great connection to quality senior care and the difficulties involved are worth the outcome.
VA-accredited claims specialists and attorneys (check with the Better Business Bureau, references, and reviews before signing agreements)
Your state’s Department of Veteran Affairs
There is a list of criteria to determine eligibility. The following are items that must be met:
Served at least one day during a time of war
Must be considered “totally disabled” – a designation automatically placed on wartime veterans when they turn 65
Some VA benefits are income based.
Thank You Veterans
Understanding VA Benefits
It is recommended to contact your local VA office and request the current benefits handbook. It offers a comprehensive view of benefits, criteria, and resources.
Getting help from others that have been through this process will help by offering tips and confirming some of the difficulties involved.
Local in-home care companies might offer assistance with managing the benefit system for veterans. Make sure that the person offering help demonstrates an expertise with this specific procedure.
Veterans may also be able to pay for long care services through Federal and State programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and through insurance or private funds. Most likely it will be a combination of resources including VA assistance.
While working through the benefit process, it can help a senior veteran to take advantage of other services that help at home. Many communities support programs that assist an older adult with their goal to age in place. Contact your local aging department to find out what assistance is available.
Finally, contact local community organizations to connect with volunteer programs that focus on helping older adults with minor household chores.
Don’t Give Up
Many have discovered that helping a senior veteran get the help they have earned can be a long and tedious process. It involves research, phone calls, and persistence. Through it all you will find the help you are seeking and you will have helped a veteran to enjoy his or her time spent living comfortably and healthy in a place called home. As with Medicare, VA benefits can seem daunting, but the help is worth it.
Guarding Seniors Against Financial Scams and Crimes
Life’s challenges face all of us at one time or another and they often come in the manner of trouble. Guarding ourselves and loved ones from trouble seems like a full time job with no days off. This is especially true with financial scams.
The elderly represent the largest target for financial crimes. In 2010, it was reported that nearly 10% of the elderly population were victims of a financial crime. The same report estimated that this number will increase to 30% as the aging population grows.
There are many reasons why criminals target seniors in financial scams. They are often more trusting than the younger population. Advancements with technology tend to make older adults more susceptible to this type of crime. Most significantly, seniors often have nest eggs that make them the best source to prey upon.
Even with these threats, taking simple actions to safeguard your loved will help protect them from being a victim of a financial crime.
Protecting your loved one’s assets should involve a discussion with a professional that will manage some or all of their resources. This discussion should determine important decisions about health care, asset management, and contingencies (such as power of attorney or living trusts).
Looking ahead, it is also helpful to designate one trustworthy person to oversee all financial manners. This person will have up-to-date knowledge of your loved one’s finances and valuables and be able to respond quickly if a crime or potential financial scam is suspected.
Best Practices to Protect Against Financial Scams
Keeping your senior loved one’s financial future safe involves more than secure documentation. There are many actions you can put in place to provide the best protection. An article offered by the American Bankers Association suggests these tips for your senior loved one:
Shred financial information before throwing them away.
Lock up financial information when others will be in their home.
Be very protective of personal information, especially your social security number.
Order annual credit reports.
Check references and credentials before hiring anyone.
Pay with checks and credits cards instead of cash.
Never pay a fee or a tax to collect a cash “winning.”
Consult with a financial advisor or trusted friend before making a financial decision or signing any financial document.
The same article offers tips for family and friends to spot financial abuse:
Question unusual activity, such as large withdrawals, use of ATM card, or changes in accounts.
New “friends” accompanying your senior loved one to the bank.
Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills.
Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
Altered wills, trusts, or power of attorney.
Unusual behavior from your loved one that suggests shame or reluctance to discuss an issue.
Along with these tips, it is helpful to know the types of technology your loved one uses on a daily basis. Setting up anti-virus software on his or her devices will offer a line of protection. Also, during a visit you can take a quick overview to scan for suspicious circumstances.
Financial Scam Awareness
After setting up protections on financial documents and setting in place protective practices, it is also important to stay on top of the latest scams that target older people. Most of these scams are designed to confuse their potential victim by preying on their emotions. It is vital that your loved one knows he or she has to be skeptical and it is ok to say no.
Many seniors have adapted to using technology as a way to communicate with friends and family and are most likely unaware that is also a key resource for fraudsters. Warning your loved against common scams will prevent he or she from falling for desperate pleas from a “relative” or fake charity requests.
Don’t assume that your older loved one would never fall for sweepstake scams, inheritance tricks, or threats to be put in jail for false unpaid bills. Informing your loved one of all the ways he or she can be harmed can be overwhelming at first. It could bring fear of using any technology in order to stay safe. Reassurance that a firm no and use of good instincts will protect their assets and allow for continued use of technology.
The use of good instincts and a firm no will also help when swindlers come knocking on the door. Advise your loved one, especially after severe weather events, that criminals have been known to pose as a service person from a utility in order to gain access to their house and steal valuables.
Along with informing your older loved one about the fraudulent actions of strangers, it is important to discuss the intentions of devious friends and relatives. AARP reports that 90% of perpetrators of fraud are known to their victims. Keeping in mind the tips offered above, especially having financial and health care documents in place, will help to prevent this situation.
Report Senior Fraud
Many seniors are embarrassed or afraid to admit they have become victims of a financial scam. It is important for your loved one to know that it can happen to anyone and reporting the situation is the best way to stop it from happening again.
It is also helpful to discuss suspected financial scams with their friends and loved ones in order to warn others.
Set in place steps to take if your loved one fears he or she is a potential victim of a financial crime. These steps will include necessary phone calls, such as yourself, the police, and any related financial institution.
It is also helpful to report fraud or financial exploitation to the AARP Foundation’s ElderWatch (1-800-222-4444, option 2). Shutting down the scammers is busy work and there are several agencies that will help in stopping them. AARP’s ElderWatch is designed to help older consumers recognize, refuse, and report fraud and scams. These tools can be found on their website.
Trust Your Instincts
A conversation about potential threats to one’s finances can be very intimidating for an older person. It may seem as if every aspect of one’s life is vulnerable. To a certain degree this is true; however, setting up good protections, staying informed, practicing a firm NO, and trusting one’s gut instincts sets up a stronghold that brings a sense of trust and security.
Smartwatches Are Changing the Face of the Medical Alert Industry
Smartwatches offer unique benefits over traditional medical alert devices.
Medical alert devices can be lifesaving for seniors who find themselves in an emergency situation. They also can reduce stress and anxiety for caregivers by providing peace of mind that your loved one will be able to get the help they need after an accident or injury. There are numerous medical alert systems on the market today, the majority of which are traditional in-home units and mobile options for more active seniors. In recent years, some companies have started offering smartwatch-style devices, which offer a fresh alternative for caregivers looking to provide their loved one with extra protection. Smartwatches add enhanced features to the mix that take the benefits of medical alert systems to the next level, and may be more appealing for many seniors.
Benefits of Medical Alert Smartwatches
Smartwatches are generally fairly stylish, and look like a “regular” watch. This is a big improvement over traditional medical alert devices, which are sometimes bulky or can make seniors feel self-conscious about wearing them. Smartwatches may be easier to adjust to wearing, especially for seniors who are used to wearing a watch.
This is one of the most important benefits of medical alert smartwatches. As anyone who has experience purchasing a medical alert device for a loved ones knows, getting seniors to regularly wear the device can be a challenge. And, the device only works if your loved one actually wears it. Smartwatches make it more likely that your loved one will wear the device regularly and be protected in the event of an emergency.
Traditional medical alert systems, and many that are on the market today, have two components: a base station and a wearable personal help button. Even some mobile devices have two pieces that the user must have on them at all times. Smartwatches function alone, meaning there are fewer pieces for your loved one to remember to wear each day. Again, this factor can help seniors feel more comfortable wearing the device, which means that they will be better protected.
Helpful Added Features
Medical alert smartwatches come equipped with many additional features that go beyond emergency monitoring services. The additional features can make the devices more appealing for some seniors and help them view the device more positively. In addition to functioning as a watch and emergency alert device, some of the common features of medical alert smartwatches include:
Activity Tracking: Most smartwatches track data such as users’ activity levels and daily steps taken. Some of them upload this information to a caregiver portal so family members and caregivers can view the information, and even send alerts if something seems abnormal about the users’ activity.
Weather Forecasts: Some devices may display or dictate local weather forecasts via a speaker.
GPS: Medical alert smartwatches come equipped with GPS location tracking so monitoring dispatchers can locate users during an emergency. Many of them also make the information available for designated contacts of the user, giving caregivers peace of mind about their loved one’s whereabouts if they cannot reach them or are concerned about them for any reason.
Messaging and Calls: This is not as widespread as the other features, but some medical alert smartwatches allow users to send text messages, or make or accept calls through their watch. This makes medical alert smartwatches very similar to standard smartwatches.
Top Medical Alert Smartwatches
This device is not a fully functioning smartwatch- users cannot use it to send text messages or make or receive phone calls (other than calls to the monitoring center). However, it does have many other helpful features such as heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and weather reporting. The MobileHelp Smart does have a two-way speaker for easy communication between users and a monitoring center during an emergency.
The Freedom Guardian provides emergency monitoring as well as typical smartwatch services. Some of these features include voice-to-text SMS messaging, activity tracking, customizable alarms for things like medication reminders, and weather forecasting. Caregivers can download an accompanying app that allows them to track their loved one’s activity, giving them peace of mind that their loved one is safe.
The Apple Watch is not a medical alert device on its own, but apps such as FallCall Lite and Alert provide Apple Watch users with emergency protection. The apps make it easy for users to contact caregivers and loved ones via their smartwatch by simply pressing a button on the watch or its screen, mimicking personal help buttons. This is a great option for those who want all of the bells and whistles of an Apple Watch, but who will also benefit from emergency monitoring. However, smartwatch apps typically only connect users to caregivers and other preferred contacts, not an emergency monitoring center.
Smartwatches are making medical alert devices more appealing and practical for seniors, and can be a major stress-reliever for caregivers who worry about their loved one’s safety. If your loved one has been resistant to the idea of a medical alert device in the past, smartwatches could provide a new opportunity for them to get the life-saving protection of a medical alert system.
The goal to do the things we enjoy and have a social life is often associated with the phrase “some day.” As we age our daily schedules become a continual list of things to accomplish. Social activities often get placed at the bottom of the list or reserved for the time when we are older and life is less hectic. After all, becoming a senior means we reached the golden years and that’s what the golden years are all about. A healthy social life has many benefits, including helping with recovery from illness and helping with depression.
For many, the golden years include a new dedication to maintaining good health and this can challenge both time and finances. Old habits of putting things off continue until it becomes necessary to create new habits that support a healthy lifestyle.
Living your best life possible requires a commitment to a healthy diet, daily exercise, and a quality social life. Paying extra attention to your social life can incorporate all three areas and help to create good routines while enjoying other unexpected benefits.
The key to making a social life a priority is to recognize that it is essential to one’s mind, body, and spirit. The following five benefits show that seniors can manage an active social life while taking care of the challenges faced with aging.
Develops Healthy Habits
Studies concerning the well-being of seniors overwhelmingly show a positive connection between an active social life and good health. Loneliness is negatively linked to conditions that affect our physical condition. Making a daily commitment to visit a loved one in person or over the phone is key to combat loneliness.
Staying physically active is an easy way to improve one’s health and social life. Many communities offer fitness opportunities uniquely designed for seniors. Daily walks near one’s home creates the opportunity to stay in touch with neighbors and make new friends. Overall, a commitment to physical fitness is easier to keep when the goal is shared with another.
Exercise is a great way to stay fit and stay social. However, going to a fitness class or talking a walk may not be the solution for everyone. Healthy activities have a variety of options that include social interaction; such as gardening, day trips, or dancing. A local community center will have a list of opportunities.
Developing healthy habits always include making wise choices regarding one’s diet. A goal of eating healthy is another great way to create quality social excursions. Planning meals with friends and loved ones benefits everyone at the table.
Learning New Things Stimulates The Mind
An active social life often includes sharpening old skills or learning new things. Seniors enjoy gathering with friends to play games. Sometimes it’s the weekly card game that has been on the calendar for years and other times it’s the newest board game. This interaction is fun and healthy for the mind.
Hobbies are often part of one’s social life as well as being good for one’s health. Some hobbies are group related and others are suited for individual participation. Hobbies benefit one’s state of mind by participating in something that brings enjoyment resulting in happiness. Happiness is one of the best things to share with friends and loved ones.
Today’s most popular social trend involves technology. Seniors get many benefits by adapting new technology into their social lives. Learning to navigate through the digital world keeps one connected to their community, family, friends, and new information. Staying connected overcomes the sense of isolation.
Self-confidence is essential to healthy living. It keeps the focus on good things ahead while overcoming life’s difficulties. Isolation tends to set in when one begins to lose a sense of value, which is often associated with aging.
An active social life helps to take one’s mind off of daily concerns and reinforces optimistic thinking. Connecting with others in similar situations has many benefits; most noticeably, it brings knowledge that alleviates a worried mind. A peaceful mind is the best way to keep the positive thoughts that build motivation and self-confidence.
Making new friends is a part of one’s social life that makes life better for others. Many social events bring a new person to the group and being the new kid on the block is just as scary at the age of 70 as it is at the age of 7. Kind gestures of reaching out to new faces and starting up a conversation are the steps to new friendships and new experiences.
Another way to have a great social life and help others is to volunteer with a friend. Check out the many opportunities with local non-profit organizations or research online with Senior Corps. Getting involved is a social activity designed to reach a variety of interests and skills: visiting an isolated elderly neighbor, tutoring a child, fostering a pet, or teaching a class are among the many opportunities available.
Gives Comfort To Family And Loved Ones
A benefit often overlooked is one that extends to family members and loved ones. Strong and consistent engagement with family and loved ones provides up-to-date knowledge with important circumstances regarding one’s health. These conversations produce the benefit of working together as a support team.
Staying connected with loved ones also provides comfort when they learn of the social activities filling one’s calendar. Visits will include conversations about new experiences. Loved ones will know that quality moments are included with the daily challenges aging brings. They will see the positive difference daily activities create.
This comfort will ease the concerns and benefit the relationships shared with loved ones; often times increasing the moments when conversations are filled with happy experiences along with health updates.
“Some Day” Is Today
A social life is so much more than keeping busy. Staying social is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. No matter what your age, one’s social calendar should include time for exercise, good food, good friends, new adventures, and a few new lessons. Make these items a habit so that nothing gets in the way of the benefits received.
Many opportunities exist to build a social life that is uniquely enjoyable to each individual. However, the benefits of a satisfying social life are the same for everyone. Along with benefits to your health; building a social life is planning moments of fun.
Today’s list of things to do starts with social activities, includes helping others, making healthy choices, and ends with fun.
Many new beginnings are welcome events. The one that starts after having a heart attack is filled with mixed emotions. Surviving the attack brings relief, gratitude, and hope. The steps of recovery generate fear, frustration, and depression, among other emotions.
The challenge of recovery after a heart attack can be especially difficult for seniors. There are many things to consider upon returning home to recuperate. Getting better is the goal and there are steps to follow that will ensure a good outcome.
Listen To The Professionals
A new lifestyle plan and often new medications are introduced upon discharge from the hospital. It is vital to have a good understanding of what’s ahead before heading home. Ask as many questions necessary in order to achieve success with the new instructions and do not hesitate to call for clarification upon returning home.
The advice you will receive is the best path to recovery and prevention for future complications. Each recommendation is supported by the American Heart Association. The amount of adjustments needed are unique to each person’s health situation. However, a healthy and active life after a heart attack is possible for everyone that makes the necessary changes.
New Lifestyle Plan
For seniors, a post-heart attack recovery plan will include enhancing an already healthy lifestyle or creating a whole new plan. Currently, there is no cure for coronary artery disease; however, making prevention a priority greatly reduces the risk of a second heart attack.
The most common changes that help are:
Follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet plan
Monitor blood pressure
Exercise (create a plan with your doctor)
Control anxiety and stress
It’s highly likely for seniors that changes in diet have taken place prior to a heart attack. Adding the ingredients of a heart healthy diet is key to preventing further complications. Cutting out everything you once enjoyed is not necessary. Balancing your choices will help to achieve the best results in making healthy eating a habit.
The American Heart Association offers many tips and recipes to make sure you love what’s on your plate. Your discharge information most likely includes diet and nutrition information. Some of the general strategies to keep your new diet on course include:
Add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
Choose fat calories wisely; avoid artificial trans fats as much as possible
Add a variety of protein-rich foods to your plate; this includes lean meat and fish
Limit cholesterol found in red meat and high-fat dairy products
Add the good carbs; such as brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and quinoa
Maintain a regular eating schedule
Cut back on salt; use more herbs and spices
It’s important to coordinate an exercise plan with your doctor that may include a prescription for cardiac rehabilitation. A blend of home exercise and cardiac rehabilitation helps speed recovery.
The early stages of recovery will encourage you to take things slow. Your body will tire easy making simple chores seem like an Olympic event. Concentrate on pacing yourself while including a walk every day as prescribed.
Many factors will determine your exercise plan. The following general guidelines will help you establish a habit of daily exercise that will benefit your overall health:
Increase walking pace in accordance with your breathing (you should always be at a pace that you are able to talk with someone). Slow down if you feel out of breath.
Chose activities you enjoy.
Ask your doctor before lifting weights.
Make exercise a daily habit for the best benefits.
Exercise is a great confidence builder during your recovery. A bit of fear and anxiety is common at the onset but every goal reached adds more strength and brings you closer to success.
New medicines have been added to your daily routine. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your new medications and how they work with any of your current medications upon discharge.
The basic medications prescribed after a heart attack will prevent future blood clots, improve your heart’s performance and recovery, and lower your cholesterol. Other medications may be prescribed depending upon health circumstances.
As mentioned earlier, a heart attack brings forth a variety of emotions. It is natural to be angry, afraid, and depressed after experiencing a traumatic event to your health. Frustration can set in as the healing process takes longer than expected. These emotions will challenge your progress to good health.
It is important to your recovery plan to pay attention to your emotions. A positive attitude will benefit the other required lifestyle changes. Incorporating social activities to your daily routine will help fight negative emotions.
Be patient and talk to your loved ones and care professionals about your emotional changes. It will take time to feel like your normal self and communication is crucial to getting there.
Ask For Help
Recuperating at home after a heart attack will require help. There’s many elements to a successful recovery plan and a helping hand from a loved one or a professional will speed up the path to full recovery.
Family and friends can make a schedule to visit and help with daily tasks. It is also beneficial to consider a professional care service. Depending on the level of care needed, in-home care providers are capable to attend to each area.
A coordinated care plan will greatly reduce risk factors and speed the healing process. Friends and family can concentrate on your emotional well-being that will strengthen your confidence and remind you that life will be fun again. An in-home care service will manage the new lifestyle plan helping you to increase your independence as these new habits set in to your daily routine.
New Beginnings Lead To New Adventures
There will be a day when life after your heart attack is no longer about recuperation. All the healthy steps you’ve added to your life have now become your new normal. Staying committed to your new lifestyle and keeping regular heart checkup appointments with your doctor will greatly reduce your risk for another heart attack. The new vigor that comes from good health will lead you to many new adventures.
Easy Ways To Stay Healthy With A Busy Caregiving Schedule
There are times when maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems impossible. This is often the case when you are caring for a loved one. Grabbing food on the run, finishing chores in place of sleep, and putting off exercise are all choices that eventually become habits when you take on the role of caregiver. This along with the anxiety of doing all you can to give the best care to your loved one can have harmful effects on caregiver health.
A majority of informal caregivers do not acknowledge the title of caregiver. It’s part of life; helping a loved one with health concerns, whether it’s a friend or a relative, comes natural for most people. Managing the extra responsibility becomes the first priority and somehow all the rest will fall in place. At least that’s the hope.
Most often, the added responsibility of caring for a loved one takes a toll on your health. There are things you can do to help you overcome this challenge or avoid this from happening altogether.
The following are tips when the role of being a caregiver becomes part of your daily life. An unhealthy caregiver can’t be there for an unhealthy loved one, therefore caregiver health is incredibly important to everyone involved.
Keep It Simple
The most important rule is to keep it simple. When the words overwhelmed and hectic describe your day, which will most certainly happen, it is time to remind yourself that you are not a super hero. Take on one responsibility at a time. Let your instincts guide what takes priority.
The stress that accompanies a day with too much to do will be eased the quicker you recognize that this is a “keep it simple” day. Confidence will also build with the experience of a well-managed day.
Caregiver health is more than just exercising. Your emotional health is connected to your physical health.
Most of us have experienced negative emotions during busy days. This often leads to saying something you will regret and that leads to more negative emotions. A simple apology or a bad day followed by a good day is the usual remedy to those feelings.
Busy days are every day for a caregiver and that can lead to a lot of frustration, guilt, and regret. Make the habit of forgiving yourself first during these moments. It will help to stop the self-condemnation and, hopefully, bring a smile and chuckle.
Ask For Help
Caring for a loved one is best accomplished as a team. Depending on the circumstances, getting help from a family member or friend will greatly enrich your role as primary caregiver.
An only child caring for a parent may find it difficult to ask for help with the caregiving responsibilities; however, asking a friend to lend a hand with your personal tasks will ease the pressure of trying to do everything. Family members can also help by providing moments of rest to the primary caregiver.
Make a list of people you trust and are comfortable asking for help. Consider the strengths and skills of each person and how it will help your schedule while benefitting your loved one. The next step is asking for help. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do but it will pay off once you make the request.
Another consideration is to hire a professional care service to assist with the daily chores involving your loved one. Among the obvious benefit to your time management, it also is an opportunity for your loved one to experience this situation and will ease the discussion if the need for professional care becomes a necessity.
When Possible – Plan Ahead
Gathering information to assist your caregiving journey is difficult when you are in the midst of all the responsibilities. Taking a moment to research advice and services available before the need arises will make a big difference in your experience. Start with the American Society on Aging’s list of organizations that take care of caregivers and you will be well prepared for what’s ahead.
This preparation will benefit your overall health once you are dealing with the daily responsibilities. Not only will it save you time and effort, it will also set you up with a support network.
Rest & Respite
R & R is key for caregiver health. In this case, R & R stands for REST and RESPITE. Your health will decline if you are unable to get proper rest. A good night’s sleep along with moments during the day when you can shut off the lists and the worries and fill your mind with thoughts that bring peace and calm will restore energy.
Respite care offers caregivers time to take care of themselves while their loved one is cared for by a professional. Respite ranges from a few hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the need. A little research will connect a caregiver to organizations that provide this care service. If needed, one can also find assistance in paying for the respite care.
AARP provides a helpful resource directory that will connect to specific types of help provided in your location.
Caregiver Health Makes The Best Caregiver
Rosalynn Carter, prominent advocate of caregiving, famously stated that there are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.
Taking care of yourself is a necessity; it will happen one way or the other. Making the effort to care for yourself will avoid the negative effects that come from an over-burdened schedule that involves caring for others. Caregiver health cannot be ignored if you want to be the best caregiver you can be!
A healthy and informed caregiver also creates the best situation for all involved. There will always be challenges involving the act of caregiving, but it can be a very rewarding experience when effort is made to prioritize care for your “self.”
Headaches, toothaches, sore muscles are all pains that interfere with accomplishing normal activities. Sometimes these pains are the signs of other illnesses, like pneumonia or UTI. Most of the time, treatment is available to alleviate our everyday aches and pains allowing us to manage the day ahead. Those that suffer from arthritis learn how to approach each day with day with pain. This is no easy feat and one that is also difficult for friends and family members to watch and not know how to make things better.
There are ways to help someone suffering from arthritis. Gaining an understanding of the different types of arthritis and the treatments involved is a good first step. From here, you will be able to offer the most effective assistance.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. The most common types include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PSA), fibromyalgia and gout. All of them cause pain in different ways.
In general, there are forms of arthritis that attack the protective cartilage causing break down of joints and other forms of arthritis that attack the immune system causing inflammation and pain. Many resources are available to best understand your loved one’s pain and creating the best treatment strategy.
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following basic do’s and don’ts for arthritis pain:
Stay ahead of the pain with education, help, and communication with your loved one’s doctor.
Encourage daily stretching and balanced activity.
Implement effective lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise, and quitting smoking
Avoid high impact activities.
Once you have a clear understanding of your loved one’s situation you will be able to offer help that will make a positive difference.
There are a multitude of over-the-counter pain relievers in the forms of pills and topical creams available at your local drugstore. Deciding which one will work best can be overwhelming. A discussion with your loved one’s doctor or friends in a similar situation will assist in your selection.
Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen are often used to alleviate pain and discomfort in muscles and joints. Topical creams bring comfort to joints that are closest to the skin’s surface. Many opt for creams in order to refrain from taking another pill. The overall effectiveness of creams is inconclusive and it is suggested that they are most effective when coupled with other treatment.
Prescription treatment for arthritis is also available and should be considered when drugstore remedies do not bring relief or when other medicines taken by your loved one, such as a blood thinner, eliminate the ability to use some over-the-counter medicine.
The Mayo Clinic defines various common prescription medications as follows:
Analgesics – These medications help reduce pain but have no effect on inflammation. Your loved one’s doctor may prescribe tramadol and other narcotics containing oxycodone or hydrocodone.
NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – NSAIDSs reduce both pain and inflammation.
DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) – This is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in order to stop or slow the immune system from attacking the joints.
Biologic response modifiers – Typically used with DMARDs to target protein molecules involved with the immune response.
Corticosteroids – This type of drug reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system and can be taken orally or injected directly into the painful joint.
Medicine will most definitely be a part of your loved one’s arthritis treatment. It is quite possible that several will be tried before finding the best overall result that relieves pain while improving joint function.
You, along with your loved one’s doctor, can suggest physical therapy as part of a treatment strategy. The expertise a physical therapist offers can help manage their condition by improving movement techniques and increasing strength to support the affected joint. Maintaining optimum fitness benefits both the body and the mind.
The best plan to help your loved one manage arthritis includes ways to overcome negative thinking. The daily struggle with pain can formulate discouraging thoughts that interfere with the treatment plan. If hopelessness sets in one can simply give up on actions that help manage pain. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following therapies to offset a destructive mind-body interaction:
Cognitive behavioral therapy – This well-studied, effective combination of talk therapy and behavior modification helps you identify — and break — cycles of self-defeating thoughts and actions.
Relaxation therapy – Meditating, doing yoga, deep breathing, listening to music, being in nature, writing in a journal — do whatever helps you relax. There’s no downside to relaxation, and it can help ease pain.
Acupuncture – Some people get pain relief through acupuncture treatments, when a trained acupuncturist inserts hair-thin needles at specific points on your body. It can take several weeks before you notice improvement.
Heat and cold – Use of heat, such as applying heating pads to aching joints, taking hot baths or showers, or immersing painful joints in warm paraffin wax, can help relieve pain temporarily. Be careful not to burn yourself. Use heating pads for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
Massage – Massage might improve pain and stiffness temporarily. Make sure your massage therapist knows where your arthritis affects you.
Along with these suggested therapies, simply being there for your loved one will provide valuable emotional support. Communicating about the pain and making suggestions for treatments that haven’t been tried provides hope. Creating a distraction from the pain with enjoyable activities or stories will make a bad day a better day. Providing simple forgiveness and support when the pain takes over your loved ones personality eliminates the stress that accompanies guilt. Often times the best treatment to overcome negative emotions is to know you are not alone.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no cure for most types of arthritis. Once diagnosed, arthritis will be a part of your loved one’s daily life. Taking the steps mentioned above and adding the things that are unique to the situation are all positive ways to help.
There are also many events benefitting the Arthritis Foundation in which you can participate in to expand your caregiving to advocacy. Getting involved with the movement to discover better answers to manage arthritis is a meaningful and fun way to network with others in similar situations.
Caring for a loved one has challenges but doing it well brings many rewards to all involved.