Stress and The Senior of Today

Stress is a part of life. Truly, it doesn’t matter what age a person is, they will and do experience stress. Children feel the stress of doing well in school and learning how to navigate social situations. Adults feel the stress of responsibilities to their work, their families, and to their households. Seniors feel the stress from changes they aren’t prepared for like the death of a spouse, loss of contact with friends who have moved into different housing, and the simple tasks of everyday life that used to be easy and are now a bit more difficult due to health and physical limitations.

The effects of stress on seniors can exacerbate mental and physical health issues, adding to the normal stress that is coming from Life and aging. It’s important to understand that this additional stress isn’t good and when identified can and should be relieved quickly.

Here are five of the most common symptoms of seniors experiencing too much stress:

  1. Eating Habits. Changes in eating habits that range from loss of appetite to overeating.
  2. Mood Swings. Irritability, sadness, depression, bursts of anger, bursts of laughter.
  3. Memory Issues. Lack of concentration and inability to recall names, places, or other things that just a short time ago came easily and naturally.
  4. Aches and Pains. Sleeping patterns, increased episodes of illness, the onset of aches and pains for no apparent medical reason.
  5. Isolation. Refusal to socialize, to participate in activities they normally enjoy.

Recognizing these symptoms and having a conversation with the senior about what’s happening in their lives can begin the process of reducing the stress and returning the senior to a more relaxed state.

Some things to address in the conversation include:

  1. Financial Issues. The recent recession reduced most of the retirement investments and savings of the senior population to an alarmingly low level, causing a lot of stress and angst.
  2. Healthcare Costs and Changes. The cost of healthcare services has increased dramatically over the past few years. In addition, how these services are offered has changed so much that many seniors no longer know how to navigate the options and offices, physicians and specialists that are now available (or not available) to them.
  3. Grief. Acknowledge the recent loss of a loved one or friend and offer the senior solace through your own actions or by connecting them with a religious authority such as a priest or rabbi.
  4. Loneliness. Don’t ask – but look to see who they are interacting with and when. Do they talk about the bridge club or the golf outing? Do they talk about other people as if they were friends?

Once it’s been accepted that the senior is experiencing too much stress, some ways to alleviate the effects the stress has caused include yoga, walking, cycling, and other physical activities the senior enjoys. These are great tension relievers while also helping to clear their mind and feel more energized. Socializing is one of the best ways to reduce stress and keep it away. Social groups can be found at the local library, volunteer opportunities at the local senior center. The best way to help the senior is to take an active part in their recovery from being overstressed, and that can be as simple as making a phone call or driving them to an activity.

How to Help a Grieving Parent When They Lose Their Spouse

There are few things in life more devastating to a senior than losing their spouse. Whether the spouse is your natural parent, step-parent, or your parent’s partner, it’s important to understand the level of despair and grief your  parent is experiencing.

Understand that there is no definite mourning period, nor is there an amount of time that needs to pass for things to return to ‘normal’. People don’t get through the pain of the death of a spouse easily, though they do eventually learn how to cope with it as time passes. Some parents will want to talk about the deceased, sharing memories that you both can talk about. Some parents will avoid the subject completely, especially if the death was painful or unexpected. Take your cue from your parent.

While you are adjusting to the level of discussion your parent is willing to have, you can help by attending to their physical needs, making sure they aren’t left alone for too long as depression from isolation can set in easily.

In the meantime, if the deceased is your parent, you must cope with the loss while also helping your grieving parent. Remember, losing a spouse is very different than losing a parent so don’t attempt to assure them that you understand how they feel.  But do share your own feelings of loss and memories – if your parent is ready to share with you.

Something to keep in mind is that your parent may appear to be coping quite well with the loss at the moment and then experience grief months after the fact. Delayed grief does happen and it’s important that you recognize the signs so that you can help your parent through it. Those signs include:

Forgetfulness. Your usually organized parent is missing appointments, locking their keys in the car, or mailing unsigned checks to pay the bills.

Disorganization. Unable to manage their time, taking longer than usual to complete everyday tasks.

Unable to Concentrate. Unable to finish a book or conversation without the mind wandering to a different topic.

Lack of Interest. Loss of interest in things they used to look forward to doing. They may say things like “what’s the use?” or “why bother, who cares?”

While all of these things can be alarming, in most cases by encouraging your parent to talk things out and to express their feelings, these things pass. If at any time you think your parent may do something harmful or be placed in a potentially dangerous situation with driving or around equipment, step in and offer a warning to remind them to be extra careful right now. If you believe your parent requires more than a reminder, talk to the primary care physician or care manager.

The Nutritional Needs of the Elderly

Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. You know that as you get older your appetite has changed, your taste buds have changed and you prefer foods today you may not have cared for when you were younger. The same is true of your elderly parents. And while personal preferences may have changed, more importantly, their nutritional needs have changed.

Some Things to Consider

In addition to changes in appetite and taste buds, some foods can be difficult to chew or digest, and physical changes in the digestive system make it difficult to absorb all the nutrients the aging body really needs.

Another challenge is that because the number of calories your elderly parents need is reduced, every calorie they consume must be packed with nutrition. This makes treats and ‘junk’ food even less appealing in terms of offering what the body needs.

Handling kitchen tools with arthritic hands can be difficult, so many elderly stop cooking for themselves. Which results in eating a lot of canned or boxed foods because they’re easy to prepare.

So what can you do?

First, understand the nutritional needs of your elderly parents, then create a plan that works for them and makes it easy for them to get these nutrients on a regular basis.

Here are top vitamins and nutrients to look for and have on the plan:

B12. It is important for creating red blood cells and for maintaining healthy nerve function. Foods that are rich in B12 include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk products. Older people don’t absorb it from food as well as they did when they were younger, so talk to their healthcare service provider about possibly adding a B12 supplement to their daily meal plan.

Folate. This is actually vitamin B9 and aids in the development of red blood cells and supports the nervous system function. Remember when you heard “eat your greens”? This vitamin is in many green vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, parsley, collard greens, and broccoli as well as cauliflower, beets, and lentils.

Calcium. As you know, calcium is most important for building and maintaining strong bones. Chances are good that your elderly parents have been consuming less calcium as they age. This puts them at risk for brittle bones and fractures. To combat this, add more servings a day of low-fat milk and dairy products, add kale and fortified juices to their diet. Calcium-rich foods are the best choice because the body needs both calcium and protein, both of which can be gotten from dairy and greens. An option for those who dislike milk is smoothies. Made with yogurt, fruit, and some vegetable smoothies are great for those who have lost their appetite, have difficulty with chewing or have dry mouth due to medications. They are easy to make and easy to consume. They also freeze well.

Vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body to absorb calcium, maintain bone density, and prevent osteoporosis.  While few foods naturally contain vitamin D, many are fortified and these include cereals, yogurts, and juices.

Potassium. This mineral is vital for cell function and helps reduce high blood pressure and the risk of kidney stones. The best way to consume this mineral is in fruits and vegetables, especially banana, prunes, plums, and potatoes with their skin.

Magnesium. This nutrient has a role in over 300 physiological processes and getting enough will help the immune system stay in shape while keeping the heart healthy and the bones strong. Many whole foods, including vegetables, contain magnesium, but your elderly parents may not be absorbing enough because of medications they are taking. Unprocessed, whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, and seed, are all great sources of magnesium and can be part of every meal your parents consume.

Fiber. Healthy digestion depends on fiber to move foods through the digestive tract. Fiber-rich foods include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

Omega-3 Fats. Found in fish as well as soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Making sure your parents have two servings of fish each week will ensure that they’re getting enough Omega-3 fats. Canned salmon on a salad with a favorite dressing is an easy meal to fix.

Water. As we age our sense of thirst declines, medications can dehydrate us, and it’s easy to forget that water is a great drink to have with meals.

None of the nutrients listed should come as a surprise. What is important is that you be aware that your elderly parents need these nutrients in every meal they consume. And making sure this happens isn’t nearly as difficult as some might think. Be creative. Use cranberry sauce instead of mayonnaise with a turkey and whole wheat bread sandwich. Prepare snack mixes of pumpkin seeds, nuts, and raisins and put in small storage containers. Pre-chop raw vegetables for salads and store in small bags in the refrigerator, transfer a bag of fresh spinach to a storage bag and place in the refrigerator next to small containers of canned fish – now all your elderly parent (or you) need to do each day is place a handful of spinach on a plate, use a small bag of veggies to cover, add a favorite dressing and you have a salad ready to eat.

Pre-Planning VS Catastrophe

Our aging population is growing at such a rate that our systems will not be able to handle this influx.  We hear from the adult children that “They never saw this coming”, when the disaster strikes their parents. “They are independent and I didn’t think it was our business to get involved.”  Then, when the parent(s) are at the hospital, for what ever reason, the fear of what’s next and how much will this cost them can be overwhelming to say the least. 

With our seniors living longer there are two things that our aging population worry about: (1)  Will I run out of money before I die? (2) Will I be a burden to my children? 

The last three years of their life is the most expensive.  They tried to save and hope they have done everything by pre-planning.  Most the time they do pretty good, however, most don’t plan nor even want to talk about it.  Many adult children are retiring from years of working to find themselves in a new career of CAREGIVING for their parents.  It’s a full-time job and most are ill prepared for the duties and everything that goes along with taking care of Mom or Dad. 

We had disastrous fires in Northern California that hit families like they had never seen.  The majority lost it all.  Most made it out with the shirt on their back and their pets.  Starting over will take years and many of them don’t have the years nor the time to re-build.  Now what?  How will they finish the last chapter of their life? 

We hear that Medicare and Medi-Cal are programs that are being looked closely at by our government.  Both of these programs are the life of our senior population.  Without these benefits many would be homeless, could not afford medications, and families can’t help.  Many of the family members are on state assistance also.  Forward thinking and getting educated is the KEY to your future.  This is peace of mind for our aging parents and adult children.  Having a plan that includes legal, financial, health advisers, and advocates is so crucial.  Protecting the savings and stretching dollars is the key. 

Pre-planning for contingency is always good idea as who knows what tomorrow brings.  Having professional and experienced advisers is so valuable.  Aging parents didn’t come with a manual therefore, throwing darts at a board hoping it hits the Bull’s Eye is not a good plan.  No matter where you are in this aging process, you need your assets protected.  Having a Plan, A, B, and C is a must.  Don’t let disaster dictate your future.  Attend our FREE seminar for the answers to your questions.  Register and get the updated information.  Learn more at: www.advancedwellnessgcm.com

Helen Justice, GCM

VIP Concierge Care Manager

Managing Money

A lot of older Americans wind up needing assistance with their financial assets, according to researchers. The skill needed to manage money is different from most daily functions because it relies on cognitive skills.


“Most older adults want to live independently for as long as possible. The problem is, it’s hard to live independently if you have difficulty managing your medications or finances,” said study coauthor Dr. Alex Smith of the University of California at San Francisco.


Many Seniors Need Help with Money. Smith and his colleagues analyzed data on 9,434 men and women available from the long-term U.S. Health and Retirement Study. Over 10 years, they found that 2,824 people, or 30 percent, developed difficulty managing their finances. Approximately a third of the original group died before demonstrating difficulty.


Among people at the relatively young age of 65 to 69 when the study began, nearly a quarter (23 percent) developed problems over the next decade.


“We don’t help people anticipate the fact that they may lose these abilities,” said Dr. Holly Holmes of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who wasn’t involved with the study. “We assess them when the abilities are already gone, and people often don’t have a plan in place. We rarely counsel 65-year-olds about their risk and how to plan for it.”


What the study couldn’t measure was loss of function about which the participants were unaware, since the answers were self-reported. “The elephant in the room is that this study covers self-reported losses of function, so the rates are actually much higher for those who don’t realize they’ve lost their abilities,” according to Dr. Mark Lachs, director of Cornell University’s Center for Aging Research in New York City.


What Caregivers Should Know.If you’re the one who steps in to help a loved one manage their money, there are many things you should know. One caveat is that it’s always easier to plan ahead. If your loved one is using the ATM and balancing their checkbook now, it may be possible to add a trusted name to their checking account. In the event of stroke or another emergency, that person can step in. It’s essential to have another name on the account if the loved one has been diagnosed with a progressive disease, such as dementia.


Although a joint account is usually the easiest way to make payments and track expenses, there is risk involved. Most fraud on older adults is committed by a family member (see sidebar). Creditors of either person can try to collect from the account. If either person dies, the money automatically belongs to the other account holder. Some banks will allow you to have a convenience account that allows another person to write checks and make deposits and withdrawals, but will not give them ownership in the event of death of the other account holder.


A caregiver can also help set up automatic, online payments for telephone, cable, utilities, mortgage, credit card and other payments. It’s wise to make a simple budget to monitor income and expenses.


Investments and bank accounts should also be monitored. Mint is one free resource that is both easy to use and capable of aggregating investment and banking information along with having a robust budget platform.


In the event that your loved one is uncomfortable allowing a friend or family member access to financial information, money-management programs can help. Find one at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.


Transparency.  Whoever is managing the money should be transparent and above reproach. Decisions should be made in the exclusive best interest of the account holder. Here are some guidelines for caregivers who manage money:

  • Always act in the best interest of your loved one.
  • Use the memo field to record what every check is for.
  • Never, ever borrow from the account.
  • Do not use the account to pay for anything that also benefits someone else. For example, your loved one’s account shouldn’t fund a car purchase that will take her to the doctor but also transport you to work.
  • An open-book policy is the best for establishing trust. Give other family members access to the books, and provide bank statements to assure them you are being a good steward.

Making It Legal. Your loved one should choose someone they trust to be the legal guardian of their assets, or fiduciary, while she is still healthy. This can only be done while the person is still completely competent. There are four ways to become a fiduciary:


Power of Attorney (POA). A durable power of attorney assigns power to another to make financial decisions in the event of incapacitation. POA must be granted when your loved one is of sound mind, and it can only be revoked in sound mind. If no one has a POA or trust, the family may have to spend time and money in court to file for guardianship.


Trustee. In sound mind, your loved one can elect to transfer assets to a revocable living trust and name a trustee. If she becomes unable to make sound decisions in the future, the trustee acts to keep the trust’s property safe. This can include moving items to a safe-deposit box, maintaining insurance policies, making careful investment decisions and paying taxes. Because it is revocable, as long as your loved one is of sound mind and the trust allows, she can elect to change or terminate the trust.


Government fiduciaries. Appointed by a government agency, these fiduciaries manage monthly benefit checks, such as Social Security or military pension payments.


Court-appointed guardians.  A court may step in and appoint a guardian or conservator if it finds that someone cannot manage their money or property alone. The guardian is required to act in the best interest of the protected person, in addition to reporting regularly to the court. Guardians must prepare accountings of income and assets, along with details about how the money is being spent.


What to Do about Conflicts. Money has the amazing ability to create conflict, even among the most civil of families. Siblings are particularly vulnerable to its temptations as they deal with the ongoing loss of a parent to dementia or impending death. Nip this problem in the bud by reaching out to siblings and other interested parties before they voice a complaint. Offer to show them the record books, explain purchases, and answer any questions. If they aren’t satisfied, ask a family counselor, mediator or social worker who consults with families in your situation to step in. A list of mediators is available from The Association for Conflict Resolution.


If there is no one who wants to take over a loved one’s finances, or if the family dynamics don’t favor that solution, your best bet may be to consider a daily money manager/management (DMM) program. These versatile programs can do everything from reminding someone to pay a bill to taking over financial management. Daily money managers pay bills, balance checkbooks, maintain a budget, organize bank statements, track receipts and tax return documents, and even figure out medical bills. Start your search at the American Association of Daily Money Managers, which has an ethical code for members.


Take your time and use caution when hiring a DMM, because they are not regulated by law. Get referrals, and ask the following questions:

  • What is your experience as a daily money manager?
  • What are your credentials?
  • How much do you charge, and what is included in the fee?
  • Is there a minimum charge per visit? a minimum of visits per month?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What will happen if you get sick or go on vacation?
  • Are you bonded and insured?
  • Will you work with your client’s professional advisors, such as her lawyer and accountant?

Remember to monitor accounts, even when you’ve hired a money manager, even though it’s annoying.

Meditate Your Way to Health and Happiness


Benefits include stress reduction, slower aging, less loneliness and more happiness.
In our speedy, modern world, an increasing number of people are turning to a 5,000-year-old method to relieve stress and calm their minds. Everyone from actors to politicians are embracing meditation, and everything from corporations to senior living facilities are offering meditation classes. This mind and body practice has a long history of increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.


Modern science is starting to verify some of meditation’s benefits. While some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure; symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression; and insomnia, evidence of its effectiveness for other ailments, such as pain, is uncertain. The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) catalogs research done on meditation for various ailments.


Extensive evidence supports meditation’s effectiveness with emotional issues such as stress. According to research, meditation can increase immune function, which is related to having less stress in our lives. Although science doesn’t yet know precisely how the meditating brain affects the immune system, some studies have found that meditation changed brain circuits that regulate emotion and may reduce markers of inflammation and stress hormones like cortisol.


Changes in the Brain
Several studies have shown that meditation can actually alter the brain.
A 2011 Harvard study found that participation in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a popular meditation program, is “associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing and perspective taking.” Specifically, researchers found an increase in the part of the brain that governs learning and memory and also in the part that regulates emotions, as well as decreases in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress.


In a 2012 study from the NCCIH, researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults didn’t. Results ratified previous findings about the increased ability of the brain and suggested that meditation may increase the brain’s ability to process information.


Benefits for Seniors
In 2015, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers studied older people who have been meditating an average of 20 years. They found that these older meditators had more gray matter volume in the brain, suggesting that they were aging slower than their non-meditating counterparts.


Previous studies have also shown increases in longevity for those who practice mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that focuses on awareness rather than breathing. One study concluded that by decreasing negative emotions and stress hormones, meditation protects the chromosomes that mark physical aging while promoting cell longevity.


Meditation may also slow Alzheimer’s. Because anxiety and stress can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms, meditation may protect the brain. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center divided a group of adults ages 55-90 into those who regularly meditated and did yoga and those who didn’t. The meditation/yoga group had less atrophy in parts of the brain and better brain connectivity than the control group.In addition, several studies have shown that meditation can reduce health costs, with one study showing fewer hospitalizations among meditators and another showing reduced healthcare expenses.


Other Benefits
Increased concentration. By sitting still and focusing on our breathing, we are able to calm our active minds. A study at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in part of the brain network that is triggered when our mind wanders from the present moment and our thoughts take over. By stopping our wandering mind, we are able to better focus on the task at hand.


Reduced stress. Because anxiety can result from unregulated and out-of-control emotions and thoughts, mindfulness meditation can help calm those thoughts and decrease stress, according to a 2013 study published by Oxford Academic.


Less depression, more happiness. A University of Wisconsin study of mindfulness meditation found an increase in electrical activity in the left frontal lobe, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people, after eight weeks of training in meditation.


Another study showed that a form of meditation known as loving-kindness, “produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.”


Less loneliness. Because meditation can bring about more acceptance of ourselves, it follows that we are more tolerant and forgiving of others. A UCLA study compared seniors who meditated with those who didn’t. After two months, the meditators felt less lonely, while the others felt more isolated. Loneliness, especially prevalent in seniors, has been shown to negatively affect our health and has been linked to a weakened immune system, depression and early death. The UCLA researchers theorized that meditation may curtail gene inflammation, which has been linked to feelings of loneliness.


Meditating in a group can also help relieve feelings of isolation and promote a sense of community with others.

7 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring Caregivers For Your Elderly Relative

You and your family have decided that it’s time to hire a caregiver for your elderly father. The decision came after much discussion that included a few arguments and tensions from a couple of crises involving your father and a family member. At this point, it may feel like the hard part is over and that all you need to do now is call the woman who had been taking care of your neighbor, hire her and all will be well. And that is the first mistake you must avoid.

Here are 7 mistakes to avoid when hiring a caregiver:

How do you know the caregiver is actually able to care for your father? Not all caregivers are alike and selecting simply because you’re familiar with her face and vehicle isn’t a good reason.

  1. No background check. Whether done by you or an agency, a record of a current background check is necessary to avoid future legal issues that may arise.
  2. Not asking for verifiable certification or education records.Caregiver training is regulated by each state with some requiring training and others not requiring any training at all, so first check with your state’s Department of Health. Once you know the requirements of individuals and agencies, don’t hesitate to ask to see the certifications and proof of training.
  3. Not requesting someone with experience. Yes, it’s important that people new to care giving gain hands-on experience, but does it have to be with your elderly father? That is for you to decide, but if your father has chronic health conditions or the beginnings of a health condition you want to have an experienced caregiver to handle the issues that arise when his condition worsens.
  4. Basing the decision on finances only. Maybe you’re a bit panicky about the cost of in-home care. Explore all options before deciding that the financial piece is the deal breaker. The more you know about the costs and how they can be covered, the less panicky you will feel.
  5. Ignoring the option of an agency and hiring someone yourself. By ignoring the option of an agency you are making a lot of assumptions that will cost you in time,money, and energy. Unless you are experienced at hiring people and up to date and understand the laws of your state for being an employer, it’s a good idea to explore all options before making a decision.
  6. Staying out of the loop. You participated in the decision to hire a caregiver, don’t back out when it comes to deciding who to hire and how. When everyone in the family is up to speed on how things were decided, it greatly reduces future tensions.
  7. Not staying involved once a caregiver is selected.When you make the transition to using caregiver services, stay in contact with your father. The caregiver is there a small portion of the day and your father needs to know you are around. Also, if at any time your father feels that his needs aren’t being met you can be his voice and address the situation – or switch caregivers if you think it’s necessary.

Why Do Older Adults Resist Giving Up Their Car Keys?

You’ve had “the talk” with your aging parent about driving and that it’s time to give up the car keys. You’ve had “the talk” a few times and it always resulted in angry shouting with them accusing you of trying to control their lives or reminding you

that they are the parent and you are their child.

 

It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes it’s just too stressful to think about that conversation again. But, you know it must be done.

 

Before you have the next discussion with your parent, it’s important that you understand why they’re so resistant to giving up driving.

 

The first thing to understand is that an older adult will be offended, defensive, or angry when they’re asked to stop driving because being able to drive a vehicle is a major symbol of independence and control. Remember, your aging parent is dealing with a loss of control in many areas of their life including health, and being asked to give up driving is a direct blow to their freedom of movement and a reminder to them that they are no longer able to completely care for themselves. This is a direct blow to their self-esteem.

 

Another reason they may be resistant is that they are unwilling to admit that anything is wrong. Fighting the aging process is common and sometimes it is simply a refusal to admit that the changes they are experiencing are real and affect the people around them. When in reality, they know what is happening and are too frightened or angry to deal with it. If this is the case, it may be a good time to contact a social worker or a geriatric care manager. Talk with someone who can help you to help your aging parent.

 

And finally, another reason your parent is resisting giving up the keys might be practicality. They are active and socialize regularly with a friend in weekly outings, daily lunches, or doctor and therapy appointments that get scheduled and rescheduled.

 

Now that you understand a bit of what your aging parent is feeling you can be more patient and understanding the next time you broach the subject with them. Be prepared for these objections, and more, by doing a bit of research, talking with friends who have had the same situation with their aging parents, or a social worker. Be prepared to listen fully to their concerns and to respond so they know you understand their concerns.

MEDICARE EXTRA HELP IS AVAILABLE

Medicare’s Extra Help Program. Also referred to as Low Income Subsidy (LIS), the Medicare Part D Extra Help program, administered by the Social Security Administration, was created to help people with limited incomes pay for prescription drugs.

 

Eligible beneficiaries who have limited income may qualify for a government program that helps pay for Medicare Part D prescription drug costs. Medicare beneficiaries receiving the low-income subsidy (LIS) get assistance in paying for their Part D monthly premium, annual deductible, coinsurance, and copayments.

 

To qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs in 2018, your annual income must be limited to $18,210 for an individual ($24,690 for a married couple living together).

 

Apply for Extra Help online (SSA-i1020) in English or Español, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to apply over the phone or to request an original paper application (English or Español), or apply at your local Social Security office.

 

For more information contact Helen Justice at helenjusticegcm@gmail.com

When Do You Have “The Talk” About Driving?

 

Dents on the car that can’t be explained.

 

Being startled when the tires run onto the warning strips when driving on the highway.

 

Needing to be reminded about the stop sign in the neighborhood.

 

Braking too hard and fast because of not slowing down soon enough when in traffic.

 

All are signs that your elderly mother or father is ready for “the talk” about driving.

 

If you have concerns about your parent’s safety when driving, then you need to have a conversation about it. Don’t put it off until later. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. It’s your parent and they always knew best, didn’t they? In this case, it’s your turn to know best and step up to protect them, and others, on the road.

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are over 40 million senior drivers on our nation’s roads. If no one speaks with these drivers, to caution them about their reduced driving skills or even going so far as to take away their keys, the number of crashes will increase as will the number of fatalities.

 

How to have The Talk?

If you’re a bit nervous about approaching your parent, it’s understandable. In the US, getting a driver’s license and having your own vehicle is a well-known sign of independence. And to consider taking away that independence is a bit daunting. One thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t a conversation solely about not driving, but is about the transfer of power – from the parent to the son or daughter. That is one reason it is such a difficult conversation to have. But it needs to be done for the safety and well-being of not only your parent but also for the unsuspecting drivers that share the road with your parent. Here are some tips you may find helpful:

 

Acknowledge that this is difficult for your parent. You can begin the conversation with something like “Dad, I know this will be hard for you to hear, but we really do need to talk about your driving”. Then you can refer to the latest incident or sign you are aware of and share your thoughts, leading to the very real possibility of accidents worse than minor fender benders or bumps.

 

Have the conversation privately. This isn’t the time to have a family meeting because your parent will think you are “ganging up” on him. It also isn’t an intervention or really a major issue. If you approach it as a son or daughter showing concern for the safety and well-being of your parent, it will go a long way toward making sure the conversation stays on track and is productive.

 

Avoid confrontation. This isn’t about accusing your parent of anything or assuming that you will be taking away the keys. It is about you bringing up concerns and the possibilities of unsafe driving habits. Also, focus on the capabilities your parent has, not his age or any illnesses he may have had. Stick to factual rather than emotional examples, which is why it is important for you to have actual incidences to refer to. Stay calm and don’t raise your voice and especially don’t get pulled into unrelated issues.

 

Know when to stop the conversation. The moment it seems that you’re just not getting through to your parent, stop. Begin the conversation again another day. There is no point in pushing the issue at this point.

 

For most people, this conversation about your parent’s driving is a difficult one. No matter how difficult it may be, it’s important that you have it and that you initiate it. Your parent could be having thoughts about needing to stop driving but isn’t ready to address the issue on their own. Your help can keep your parent, and others, safer on the road.

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