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.

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.

Safety Checklist for the Aging Senior

Staying home as you age is a wonderful thing. You’re surrounded by familiar objects and memories and overall are very comfortable in your own space. Something to remember, though, is that you are still aging. And with age comes physical changes that you can prepare yourself for, and you can prepare your home for as well. Some of these physical changes include eyesight, balance, and reduced strength in your arms and legs.

 

Falls are one of the top reasons why seniors are hospitalized or placed in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. An alarming statistic is this one:

 

the National Council on Aging says that every 11 seconds an adult over the age of 65 will have a fall that leads to hospitalization.

 

Knowing this, you can prevent a fall and becoming a statistic yourself by checking for hazards in your home, and then asking a friend or caregiver to check for hazards.

 

Here is a safety checklist to help you keep your home, and yourself, safe:

 

Floors

  • Remove electrical cords or reroute them so that they run along the baseboard.
  • Clear walking areas – hallways, doorways, foyers – of objects that can be bumped into or tripped over.
  • Repair loose rugs by tacking them down.
  • Remove loose rugs.
  • Always be conscious of spills and wipe them up as quickly as possible.

 

Kitchen

  • Organize your utensils and small appliances to reduce clutter.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and cabinets often, throwing away expired foods.
  • Store pots and pans at waist level.
  • Store rags, washcloths, dishtowels away from stovetops.

 

Personal

  • If you smoke, don’t smoke in bed or when you are tired.
  • Replace shoes with slippery leather or vinyl soles with those that have a non-slip
  • Use daily pill dispensers to avoid missing pills or overdosing.
  • If daily tasks are getting to be too much, hire a professional home care aide.

 

Regular Home Maintenance

  • Check for loose light bulbs that need to be tightened.
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs.
  • Reduce the temperature of the water heater to 120 F or below.
  • Check for leaky faucets.
  • Label faucets with red tape (hot) and blue tape (cold).
  • Purchase small appliances that have an automatic shut off feature, such as an iron or water kettle.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.

 

Safety Installations

  • Add grab bars in the shower and beside the toilet.
  • Place a non-slip mat in the shower, on all steps, and at the bottom of a series of steps or stairs.
  • Install chair railing in the hallway.
  • Check indoor and outdoor railings for stability, replace if loose.
  • Consider installing an electric stairlift if walking up the stairs is too difficult.
  • Add lighting to dimly lit areas.
  • Add motion sensor lighting in the bathroom and hallways.

 

In-Home Care vs. Home Health Care

As a Geriatric Care Manager, I have had the privilege of having first-hand conversations with many seniors and their family members. I know the issues that are top of mind for seniors and I know the recurring questions about options available to them as they age and experience health issues. One question in particular that I am asked on a regular basis is “what is the difference between “home care” “in-home care” and “home healthcare”?  It’s important to understand the difference because unless medical care is provided, the service may not be covered in part by Medicare.

 

In-Home Care aka Home Care

In-home care is non-medical companion and ‘help around the house’ care. When an aging adult isn’t able to keep up with cleaning, shopping, cooking, paying bills, or their own transportation, that is the situation that calls for In-home care. Professional caregivers provide a variety of care that ranges from helping with activities of daily life to companionship.

 

For example, Carol is a 76-year-old who just recently came home from the hospital after being treated for an infection. She owns her own home, has her own vehicle, but is sent home with oxygen, multiple medications to be taken throughout the day, and orders to not drive or do anything strenuous for the next 30 days. A home care aide is hired to visit Carol’s home every day for 4 hours between 10 am and 2 pm. During this time the aide takes care of the housekeeping by vacuuming, washing dishes, dusting, and wiping down surfaces in the kitchen and bath. The aide will check Carol’s medication list and daily pill dispenser to make sure she’s taken the medication that day. Also, the aide will drive Carol to her appointments and to the store, helping her with her shopping needs. If needed, the aide will prepare nutritious meals and store them in the refrigerator for Carol to microwave or cook on the stove. These non-medical, non-clinical services ensure that household needs are covered and offer Carol a friendly social connection while she is recuperating at home.

 

These same services are offered to aging seniors who aren’t ready to leave their homes but aren’t able to handle all of the daily living tasks themselves. Another positive aspect is that the aide will often spend a bit of social time with the senior, playing games and watching movies.

 

Home healthcare

Home healthcare providers, also known as home health aides, have some level of formal medical training and will have passed competency tests. Many will have credentials like a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Physical Therapist (PT) or Occupational Therapist (OT).

 

Home healthcare includes a wide range of services that can be done in the home, some of which include IVs and injections, monitoring of a health condition, wound care, and patient education. The objective is to treat the illness or injury and helping the patient get better so they can return to independent living and self-sufficiency.

 

For example, Mike is 82 years old and quite active in his community and physically with a running club and a bicycle club. During a running race, he tripped and twisted his knee, aggravating an existing condition and hastening the need for knee replacement surgery. After surgery, he spent a week at the rehab center and was released to be home as long as he hired a home healthcare service to tend to his knee, provide physical therapy, and help wean him off pain medications.

 

In order for Medicare or Medicaid to cover the costs of a home healthcare service provider, a doctor must certify that the service is needed and the home healthcare agency must be Medicare-certified and be the coordinator of care.  This type of care is perfect for the aging senior (or anyone for that matter) who needs intermittent nursing care.

 

Care Costs Add Up

Whether the aging senior needs help with day-to-day tasks or actual nursing care at home, these costs add up. And they add up quickly. It’s important that you understand the differences in care and what services are actually needed so you can do a bit of research and prepare the budget for the costs.

Creative Living Options for Aging Seniors

Growing older doesn’t have to mean living alone. Many aging seniors fear the day when they must consider selling their home and property and moving into a sterile environment. Some express fear that they will be ignored, while others fear they will lose their independence. And some express fear of moving to a “senior community” based on a lifestyle they don’t have such as golf or tennis. If the aging senior is healthy and active, but is finding the care and maintenance of the property to be a bit too much to handle, or is having difficulty with the financial responsibilities of keeping their property, there are options you may not have considered. Here are some creative living options for aging seniors:

 

Co-Housing 1. This is an option many aren’t aware of because it isn’t typical or considered traditional, yet. Co-housing is when each person purchases a residence — be it an apartment, townhouse or a single-family house — that has everything a typical residence would have (i.e., a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom). However, the residences are linked to a shared space, such as a yard and gardens, and a large common room, dining area, and kitchen that can accommodate group meals or gatherings. The point of co-housing is community, while maintaining a level of independence. Current co-housing arrangements are inter-generational and don’t involve staff-provided services, but some can be age-specific. For the aging senior capable of independent living but wanting to be a part of a tight community, this is an excellent option to consider.

 

Co-Housing 2. Another form of Co-housing is the intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house or community center, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.

 

Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. The legal structure is typically a Homeowners Association type structure. Community activities include regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Co-housing makes it easy to form clubs, organize child and elder care, and carpool. There is a Co-housing Association of the United States that has a website. For more information about this type of housing for aging seniors, learn more here – Cohousing Association

 

Share Housing. Just as when young people share living spaces to save money, the same is being done with aging seniors. Often, there is a widow or widower who is fully capable of living independently, has a large home and doesn’t want to leave it. So, they offer the extra bedrooms to those in the same age range with the arrangement being rent plus agreed upon chore responsibilities. In other cases, it’s a matter of two senior aged friends deciding to sell their respective properties and purchase a single property as co-owners, sharing all expenses related the maintenance and upkeep of the property.

 

As you can see, for aging seniors who don’t need medical monitoring or personal care assistance, but do need to be with others who will watch out for them, these options are available and worth taking a closer look.

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