Dealing With Reduced Spending Power As A Senior

Economic recessions and recoveries affect retirement and savings accounts.


Inflation increases daily living expenses.


Whether or not frugal habits are in place, those who are aging and entering the elderly population experience reduced spending power – they have less to spend and must focus on needs first over wants.


This can be stressful for not only the elderly but also for their family and friends who want to enjoy the time they spend with each other.


Frugal habits honed during the last 50 years will make for an easier transition into the senior phase of life. But, for those who didn’t form those habits, who didn’t heed the words of money and financial experts over the years, there are things that can be done now to make the best use of the spending power they have. The following list is also a good reference for those who want to make suggestions to the senior member of their family:


1. Shop for new Medicare coverage. Whether the senior person does it or a family member, it is a mistake to assume that current Medicare coverage is actually a good deal. Changes to the Medicare program and offerings are made annually and it is a good idea to review the coverage in place, and then compare it to the new coverage available.


2. Shop for groceries and hard goods once a week, or even once a month if possible. Shop with a list and save any impulse purchases as an item on the list for the next shopping trip. This way, you recognize that you want to purchase something and rather than saying “no”, you simply put it on the list for the next trip. Then, when creating the list for the next shopping trip you can decide whether or not that purchase is really something you want or need.


3. Bargain or ask for lower interest rates. If you currently have debt, there is no harm in asking the lender for better interest rates. The worst that can happen is they say “no”. The best that can happen is that they say they can reduce your interest rate.


4. Look at an annual payment, if possible. Many purchases set on a monthly payment plan can be paid on an annual basis and with significant savings – often stated as “Pay annually and get 1 month free” or “Pay annually and save 15%”. Look over the services and products you are currently paying for on a monthly basis and ask if the annual payment will save you money.


5. Share on the grocery shopping. When you’re creating your grocery list, ask a neighbor or friend to share theirs with you and compare. If you have many similar items on the list, consider shopping together and purchasing in bulk or larger sizes then splitting the purchase when you get home. Bulk pricing, volume pricing, larger size pricing is always less expensive than single serve size.


6. Stop purchasing movies and books. Your local library is an excellent source for entertainment, lending movies in various formats as well as books via eBooks (Kindle format). Call or visit your local library and ask if they offer digital lending and DVD lending.


7. Unplug devices you aren’t using. Your electric bill will show a measurable decrease by simply unplugging appliances and devices you aren’t using. Every appliance and digital device that is plugged in uses electricity. Albeit a small amount, but when you unplug for a month you will see that the small amount from each adds up.


8. Generic is good. Generic labels on food and soft good items are often equal in quality to brand name items.


9. Drink water. Replace your store-bought juice and soda with water from your tap and you will see significant savings.


10. Barter. The internet is an excellent place to find someone willing to trade an appliance or tool or even labor for something you are willing to exchange. Try Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, and Yahoo Freecycle. But also consider your network of friends and neighbors and store owners. Often it’s a matter of asking if the person is willing to exchange a product or service for something you have to trade.

Create a Care Plan Before You Need It

So many people, middle-aged and senior, don’t understand that having a care plan in place before you need it can save a lot of time, money, and heartache. If you don’t have the conversation with your aging parents or members of your care team now, you will ca

use yourself and your aging parents undue stress and financial hardship when the need for a care plan arises.


A care plan is a documented set of instructions of how you want to be taken care of as you age and as you transition from independent home life to possibly an assisted living facility, through to the handling of your funeral arrangements. Of course, this applies to anyone in your family as well. If you are the adult child that is or will be responsible for the care of your aging parents, the care plan will make the needs and wants of your parents clear and easy to follow.


Where do you begin?


Here are some initial questions to help you get focused so you can create your own care plan or your aging parents’ care plan:


Are there any activities or hobbies you would like to pursue or continue?


Is socializing with friends and family important to you?


Would you like to travel?


Do you want to remain at home as long as possible? If so, would you hire in-home care at some point?


Would you want someone in the family to be your full-time caregiver?


How do you feel about moving to Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?


What are your values and beliefs regarding your quality of life and longevity?


Do you have a living will, advance directive or Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)


In case someone needs to make medical decisions on your behalf, who would you feel most comfortable appointing? What about financial decisions?


Have you designated someone as a medical and/or financial Power of Attorney?


What are your wishes for final arrangements once you are gone?


Having answered those questions, it’s now time to look at who will be on the care team. If you are forming a care team for your aging parent it is vital that you have their input and support for each member selected. These are the people they will be interacting with, and more importantly, who they will be trusting to take care of their homes, their belongings, their medical care, their financial accounts, and more.


Members of the care team may include:

• Family

• Friends and neighbors

• Home care and home health care professionals

• Adult day care facility

• Geriatric care manager

• Elder law attorney

• Social worker

• Physicians (primary care physician and specialists)

• Financial planners


Taking the time now to get the people and paperwork in place ensures that you, and your aging parents, are prepared for the day when the care team is called into action.

Happy Heart Month

Happy Heart Health Month!

February is here and Valentines is around the corner. In celebration of the heart theme, let’s all take a moment and do something to help out our own heart’s health. Take care of you’re heart and it will take care of you!

Reposted from

1. Get active

Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
What To Do

Start by learning the basics about fitness. Also, children need 60 minutes a day–every day–of physical activity, so find ways to workout with your kids to help ensure their heart health in addition to your own.

2. Control cholesterol

When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.
What To Do

Try these tips to lower cholesterol with diet and foods.

3. Eat better

Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life.
What To Do

Want more ways to eat better? Try these tips:

  • Track what you eat with a food diary
  • Eat vegetables and fruits
  • Eat unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods
  • Eat fish twice a week
  • Cut back on added sugars and saturated fats

4. Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries.
What To Do

To manage blood pressure, you should:

5. Lose weight

If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.
What To Do

Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to help you determine if you need to lose weight.

6. Reduce blood sugar

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die

from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
What To Do

The following tips can all help reduce your blood sugar:

  • Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts
  • Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin
  • Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you

7. Stop smoking

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health.
What To Do

Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Visit the American Heart Association’s Quit Smoking website for tools and resources.

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VA Disbursements have increased!​​​​​​​

Are you a War-Time Veteran or Widow of War Time Veteran?

There are Financial Benefits available for War Time Veteran and Widow of War Time Veteran to help defray the cost for senior placement Assisted Living Facilities, Board and Care Homes, and In-Home Care. There is a non-service connection pension cal Aid and Attendance Pension Plan. This was established in 1954 under Section 38 USC to assist qualified veterans and their surviving spouses.

And the amounts have just increased:
Current Maximum VA Monthly Benefit Amounts

Two Veterans/ Spouses: $2,903 per month / $34,837 annually

Married Veteran: $2,169 per month / $26,036 annually

Single Veterans: $1,830 per month / $21,962 annually

Widow: $1,176 per month / $14,113 annually

What are the qualification?

  • The Veteran Must:
    Be aged 65+ or Unemployable
  • Be Honorably Discharged having 90 days or more of active duty service with at least one of those days during a period of War. This does not mean they needed to be in War Country.
    Have Cost of Care that is 5% greater than their fixed income.
  • Eligible Veterans must show active duty service for a minimal 90 days during a time in which the US was involved during a declared conflict (from 1980 forward the veteran needs to serve 2 years active duty).
  • You must need assistance with activity of daily living (ADLs) (bathing, eating, dressing, hygiene, transferring, and medication management). Your doctor will provide a report that you need assistance with at least of two ADLs.

Advanced Wellness Geriatric Care Management and a VA Accredited Claim Agent is providing a service to the community for assistance to veterans and surviving widows of War Veterans. We provide a comprehensive seminar to educate families on this benefit. It’s a FREE Seminar. Click Here and register for the next one. This seminar will provide information on all public benefits. We will help with all the paperwork and current claim forms available from the Veterans (VA) Benefit Pension Program. We are available to assist you in filing a claim with the VA after you attend Family Training. THIS SERVICE IS FREE.

Find out more here:

Medical Tax Deductions

The deduction for qualified medical expenses has survived yet another round of tax reform.  The IRS will allow a tax payer to deduct expenses that exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income for 2017 and 2018.  Beginning in 2019, all taxpayers may deduct only the amount of the total unreimbursed allowable medical care expenses for the year that exceeds 10% of their adjusted gross income.


For example, if you have a modified adjusted gross income of $50,000 and $5,470 of medical expenses, you would multiply $50,000 by 0.075 (7.5 percent) to find that only the expenses exceeding $3,750 can be deducted. This leaves you with a medical expense deduction of $1,720 (5,470 – 3,750).


Many elders who have been ordered into a professional care environment such as assisted living, may have qualified care expenses of $30,000, $40,000 or more annually.  Often times, the elder relies on other parties such as their children to supplement their care expenses.  Regardless of the amount, “anyone” who is contributing to the direct care expenses of themselves or a loved one, should seek qualified tax services from an Enrolled Agent or CPA to determine if those expenses are deductible.  Considering the a mount of money and complexity of claiming these expenses, I do not recommend using on-line Internet Tax or Shopping Mall type tax preparation services.  Many of these face to face data collection persons are customer service agents with minimal, if any, actual tax training or credentials.  You have the right to claim these deductions – if it is done properly!


Also, for those who used an Irrevocable Trust to reposition assets, you should meet with an Enrolled Agent or CPA to discuss if you will be required to file a 1041 tax return.


One big tip for those receiving VA Aid and Attendance.  I would strongly recommend you file a 1040 and claim your care expenses – even if you are exempt from filing!  Remember, the VA is tasked with verifying your care expenses exceed your income annually.  By filing the 1040, it makes their job easy.  By not filing a 1040, make certain you keep a close eye for any correspondence from the VA.  If you fail to respond timely, they may terminate your monthly benefit!


-By Edward Cotney

Mistakes when Applying for Public Benefits

7 Biggest Mistakes when Applying for Public Benefits

When you are applying for public benefits you may be eager to get started, downtrodden with the process or fearful of the results. As you move through the process of the application it is so important that you understand the 7 Biggest Mistakes most people make when applying for public assistance or Government issues benefits. By making these big mistakes, the application results can be delayed, require more information or be denied all together.


Obviously, your goal is to get approved and start your benefits as soon as possible. However, don’t let your emotions, doubts or fear of a negative outcome, create a situation where you have a negative outcome. Here are the 7 Biggest Mistakes people make when applying to receive public benefits, including Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran or VA benefits or other government assigned assistance.


#1 Simple errors when trying to go to quickly through the application process is the first mistake made by a majority of applicants. Today, there are many ways to apply for benefits and the transition has been toward electronic filing. The entire action of filing for the age group of 50 and above has proven to be a hardship. When you begin your online application take time to read every question very carefully and if you do not know the answer, find someone to help you understand the question so you don’t go too fast and mess up on things such as income or health related questions.


#2 Fear of being denied the benefits you are requesting is the 2nd mistake many applicants make when applying for public benefits. It is an emotional issue when you are applying for help, and often the need for help is one that creates embarrassment and fear. The mere fear of being denied, is responsible for mistakes and errors in the application process. Before applying, check in with yourself to ensure that you are confident that you will be approved based on your true and authentic need.


#3 Misunderstanding income reporting requirements when you have received payments for miscellaneous reasons such as babysitting or caring for someone’s home. When you are applying for public benefits one of the questions you are asked is how much money you made. Be very honest when you claim the amount of money you earned even if it was a small amount from simple things. The more clear you are, the easier it will be for your claim to be reviewed.


#4 Do your homework when applying for SSI or Social Security benefits. If you are disabled, you have something preventing you from working. Before you apply, be sure to do your homework and learn about the options for you, your state’s requirements and the disability you believe is keeping you from working.


#5 Understanding VA benefits and SSI. Veterans often will believe if they are injured in war or in duty and become disabled, that they are only qualified for one benefit. However, the applications are separate and so are the benefits. So, if you are applying for benefits as a disabled Veteran then you may be also qualified to receive SSI for your disability.


#6 Not completing the application. While this sounds a bit enormous, many people who are applying for benefits for the first time, will start the process and not finish it. Whether you are filing paper forms or electronically, make sure that you have confirmation that the application process was complete.


#7 Finally, giving up after the first denial is a critical mistake most applicants for public benefits will fall into. Remember, there are appeal opportunities for you, if you believe you have been wrongly denied a public benefit so get with a professional consultant for legal guidance on the appeal process.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to for information on no fee seminar. 

Ten Steps to Moving into Assisted Living

Ten Steps to Moving into Assisted Living

Aging parents and grandparents begin to need constant care both physically and emotionally. Choosing to move your loved one into an assisted living facility is not easy at all, for you or your loved one. However, the move can be easier with these 10 steps to moving into an assisted living facility.


The first area that will need to be addressed is what items can be taking into the room where your loved one will be living. Followed by the visitation schedule, if any, and what situations trigger the need for a family member to be present. We are going to discuss a 10-Step checklist for moving your loved one away from their home and into an outside facility so you can feel good about your decision.


  1. Decide what to do with the current home and/or living space. The first thing you must decide when you are considering moving your loved one into an assisted living facility, is what to do with the current location. If, for example, your aging parent, grandparent or loved one, has been living in their own residence up until the time they will be moving out, you must decide who will stay in the home or of no one will stay in the home, but rather take care of the residence. Again, have this conversation as early as possible because this is a critical decision at this juncture. Ask your family member what they would like to see happen with the residence, if this is a dwelling such as a lifetime home. If they are moving out from an apartment, the issue is where to store the items that cannot be taken to the assisted living facility.
  2. Decide the move in strategy and discuss this with family members. Moving out from a home into a facility carries many possibilities of rejection by the loved one so a good idea in strategy #2 is to plan this move to be a fun day with lots of love and support. Discuss the plan with all family members who may be involved in support so the day happens with ease and dignity.
  3. Visit the facility at least 10 times before deciding which assisted living home will be the best for your loved one’s situation. If your loved one is still able to do physical activities, a facility with more outdoor options may be the best choice. However, if your loved one has a condition that will quickly degrade health, a facility near a hospital may be the best choice. Use your best judgement during your visits to the assisted living facility.
  4. Ensure that you have a good checklist of current medications and any medications your loved one may be allergic or sensitive to so the care givers will know this up front. Even if your loved one has an emotional tendency such as self-harm or acting out, inform the assisted living facility of this as well.
  5. Have all documentation ready in advance of enrolling your loved one into an assisted living facility. These documents include a living will, do not resuscitate directive and complete will. Your loved one most likely is going to this facility to complete his or her life cycle so this part is important.
  6. Ensure there is a clear list of phone numbers for the facility to call if there is an emergency, and the presence of a family member is needed. If you are putting phone numbers on this list ensure the family member is well aware that they may be contacted by the assisted living facility in case of an emergence. Remember to update this list with the facility administration if there are changes to the contact source.
  7. Move only the necessities at first. Although your loved one may be a pack rat and want to take everything, there often is simply not enough room for all of their desires so start off with the basics of home plus plenty of things to do such as crossword puzzle books, crocheting things and activity materials that will be there for your loved one.
  8. Spend quality time with your loved one before its time to move them into an assisted living facility. Go fun places and take vacations they may have dreamed of. This helps them feel loved, appreciated and secure in the move.
  9. Gather the family for a pre-death planning session. While this certainly is the hardest part of putting a family member into assisted living, it is a piece that must be discussed. Too many people pass away with confusion within the family.
  10. Finally, whatever you decide, know that you have taken the needed steps in doing the best thing for your loved one. Take some time to treat yourself good for being a decision maker and for doing what is needed and best for your loved one.


Home care, adult daycare and assisted living options are all decisions that require a lot of energy and love. Believe in yourself to make the right choices and know that your love – is what makes your loved one – feel loved.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to for information on no fee seminar. 

Adult Day Care

Adult Day Care as an Alternative to In-Home Care

When your mother, father or grandparent starts to age, he or she may develop mental or physical problems that prevent them from being left alone. Dementia is the leading cause of loss of cognitive function and leaves your aging family member vulnerable to harming themselves because of the loss of mental faculties. Some physical problems also prevent the person from getting around a lot and provide danger to them when left unattended.


Traditionally, In-Home care has been used to fulfill this need so the functioning member (child or grandchild) can leave the home to participate in their own life. Nurses would come in and sit; thus their title “sitter”. This method, although traditional, has been challenged as causing more damage to the person than good in some cases where their independence has been challenged. The emotional damage to the loved one, may outweigh the positive benefits of having someone watch over them.


Adult daycare is pretty new but seems to be becoming popular to families who want their mom, dad or grandparent (or disabled person) to have a full life for as long as possible. Adult daycare centers are much like daycare for children where they have fun activities, get exposure to nature and being outside, and have friendly and fun interaction with others in their same condition, whether that is handicapped, aging or injured for a time.


When deciding which option to choose for your family member you must use common since and decide which is best for your loved one based on many factors such as affordability, transportation and practicality.


Here is a short checklist to help you decide whether to hire someone to come to your home or their home, to sit with your loved one, or to enroll them in an Adult daycare program.


  1. Affordability – If cost is the problem, the first thing you should do is start to see if it is financially feasible for your loved one to be enrolled into a daycare as opposed to receiving home care. Insurance may cover a nurse to come in and sit with your loved one in their home or yours, and may not cover any cost of Adult daycare. If money is no issue, then you may want to strongly consider the daycare option but not without the next two items on this checklist.
  2. Reputation of Nearby Facilities – Elder abuse and abuse of the disabled is on the rise. Even an adult day care center may be staffed with inappropriate people who have tendencies toward anger or impatience. This is a critical area in deciding what type of care your aging parent, disabled child, injured grandparent or other loved one receives. While there is no one single way to project the type of person caring for your loved one is or will be at any time, simply asking questions that spark answers will cause you to feel one way or the other so don’t hesitate to ask.
  3. Opinion of your Loved One – Simply ask them their opinion, if they have the mental faculty to answer. Often dementia sufferers cannot give you a right answer, although their body language may provide an indication. When you are talking with them, rather than saying “adult daycare” say something like “Would you enjoy going to town and hanging out with some friends your age for the day?”, or “Can we go check out the adult daycare down the road and we will get some lunch?”. Remember inside, your loved one is still a human and is entitled to take part in their own care for as long as possible.


Making these decisions for someone you love is not easy. Deciding to choose adult daycare over in home care is an emotional decision and should be planned out properly so the experience is the best it can be in any given situation. Always have the talk.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to for information on no fee seminar. 

Safety Checklist

Safety and Fall Prevention Checklist

These 3 Simply Steps can Prevent Falls and Accidents

When your parents, yourself or a loved one begin to age, certain faculties cause a rise in the increase of falling. Research is clear that 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall and injury as the result of the fall. Although there seems to be a social assumption that falling is going to happen, there are many ways to prevent falling in the first place.


As you, your parent or a loved one are aging, this is certainly a topic to be discussed. There are other conditions that increase the likelihood of tripping, falling and sustaining an injury that are unrelated to aging such as neuropathy of the feet from diabetes or other neurological conditions. No matter what the risk factor, there are things that you can do to prevent a fall and possible lifelong injury.


Some of the possible injuries that can occur after a fall and have sustainable implications include broken bones, head concussions and bruising of the inner organs. Broken hips seem to be the injury that has not only a physical impact because of the treatment and rehabilitation needed after the hip is broken, but also has an emotional affect as well. The emotional impact on breaking a hip on an aging man or woman is the feeling of not being able to take care of themselves and do the normal activities they used to do easily.


To mitigate physical and emotional damage from accidents related to tripping, slipping or falling, here is a short checklist of three ways you can keep the possibility of falling, at bay.

  1. Have the discussion with your family member about exercise and maintaining good health. Discuss with them the ways in which increasing exercise or adding supplementation can boost the bodies effort to not only stay physically fit but to keep their brain sharp in paying attention to objects around them. Brain health is a critical piece when preventing dangerous falls so having these talks frequently with your loved one will keep it fresh in their mind for as long as possible. If it is you who may be a fall risk, you can simply start to pay attention to the surroundings you encounter to have a self-talk about falling.
  2. Inside of the home of your aging parent or loved one, talk to them about moving furniture around in such a way that the path is clear to walk straight through from furniture to doors and appliances. If they are using a walker, ensure that their walker leg will not hit furniture causing them to trip. At restaurants, ensure that a walker is placed away from the table to avoid tripping by your loved one or other guests in the restaurant. Have the talk about focusing on where the walker is going at all times and about having a visual of the next stopping point in the walk.
  3. Finally, a good way to ensure falls are reduced or eliminated is to spend time with your loved one and use the time to connect and bond, knowing that you are there to support them in their livelihood by helping them get from point A to point B with a reduced likelihood of falling. This also gives your loved one a blessing as they are going to the store, to the doctor or just on an outing. Not only does your love and time help them reduce their risk of a fall, but it provides long-lasting happiness and joy for you both.


Remember that falling and tripping is a leading cause of emotional distress and physical damage to an aging person. Having the talk about the impacts of tripping can help and taking these three practical steps can also assist in keeping your family member or loved one safe as long as possible.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to for information on no fee seminar. 

Maintaining Emotional and Intellectual Well-Being

Each human being is a combination of body, mind, and spirit; we should be aware of how these parts interact. For example, people may have powerful emotional responses while facing the many challenges which life presents. Thus, some may often appear cheerful and optimistic while others are anxious and unhappy. In later years, we usually continue our basic moods, but the ways we express our feelings often become more obvious. Maintaining

Depression: Signs and Causes

In the midst of losses, such as physical changes, death of friends or loved ones and reduction of income, older people may begin showing signs of depression. Some things to look for are:

  • inability to concentrate or make decisions,
  • lack of feelings of enjoyment, or enthusiasm even for doing those things that were favorites,
  • little interest in eating (causing weight loss) or changes in eating habits (overeating causing weight gain),
  • lack of interest in being with other people, or loss of sex drive (libido),
  • feeling unwanted and worthless, sometimes leading to the thought that life is not worth living,
  • sadness or crying spells for no apparent reason,
  • problems with sleeping (sleeplessness during the night or excessive sleep during most of the day),
  • feeling tired most of the time, regardless of adequate rest.


If older people brood about their unhappiness, much of their energy is focused on worry. Part of that worry may relate to the fear that they will become forgetful and unable to manage their affairs. This worry can lead down the path to more depression, which may cause physical problems.


In exploring the cause of depression, the following questions should be asked:

  • Is there a physical or medical problem causing the depression?
  • Have there been changes in hearing, seeing, moving, or other body functions?
  • What social contact does the care-receiver have?
  • What are the opportunities for usefulness?
  • What kind of personal losses (death of friends, relatives, or pets) have there been?
  • Is the older person getting proper nutrition?
  • What kind of mental stimulation is the person getting?
  • Has there been a difficult adjustment following retirement?
  • Is the focus entirely on the past or is there some enthusiasm about coming events?
  • Is there a possibility of reaction to medications?
  • Is there a dependency on alcohol or drugs?


Once these questions have been answered, steps can be taken to relieve the depression. It will take some work from both the caregiver and the care-receiver to change habits and routines. Prolonged depression causes biochemical changes in the brain, usually requiring treatment with medication. The doctor is a good person the contact to find help for treatment of depression. Other resources are County Mental Health Centers, psychologists, counselors or clergy.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide among the elderly is a significant and ever increasing problem. Statistics show that 27 percent of all suicides in San Diego county (1985-87) were committed by people 60 years of age and older. Nationally, elderly (65+ years) made up 12.3 percent of 1987 population and committed 21.0 percent of suicides. Elderly complete one suicide every 1 hour and 21 minutes, or each day 17.7 seniors committed suicide.

Unlike other segments of the population, the elderly do not often make threats or mention suicidal thoughts to others. Therefore, it is important that caregivers also know other warning signs:

  • Depression – feelings of sadness, hopelessness, a sense of loss and statements as “Life isn’t worth living” are common before a suicide.
  • Chronic or terminal illness.
  • Withdrawal and isolation – suicidal people may pull away from family, friends and others close to them.
  • Behavior changes – sudden changes such as irritability, aggressiveness or changes in eating and sleeping habits can signal problems.
  • Making final arrangements – a suicidal person may give away valued possessions, making out a will, make a plan for suicide, or write a suicidal note in preparation. They may purchase weapons or stockpile medications.


Suicide can be prevented. If the person you care for shows any of the warning signs, you can:

  • Ask – don’t be afraid to ask directly if the person is thinking about suicide. It is not a taboo subject. You will not be putting ideas into the person’s head. It can be a relief to the suicidal person to talk openly about their feelings.
  • Listen – let the person express his/her feelings and concerns. Don’t worry about saying the right things – just listen.
  • Show you care – tell the person you care and want to help. Take active steps to make sure the person is safe; remove weapons, pills, etc., and stay with him/her.
  • Get help – make sure the suicidal person gets in contact with a professional counselor or other helpful person who will know what to do. Or have the suicidal person call (suicide prevention/crisis intervention Hotline in your community. Telephone numbers for such local resources should be at the front of your telephone directory.) A crisis counselor can help figure out the best way to handle the situation and give referrals to other resources.


Death and Dying Interventions Elderly terminally ill encounter anxiety and fear regarding death:

  • fear of the process of dying; will there be pain?
  • fear of losing control; will I be at another’s mercy?
  • fear of letting go; I can not leave family and friends to an uncertain future.
  • fear of seeing how others will avoid me.
  • fear of losing my caregiver; will he/she be turned off emotionally to me?
  • fear of the unknown after death.
  • fear that my “life’s script” has been meaningless, unfulfilled, a waste.


You may wish to ease these fears through an open discussion of these fears and intervening:

Regarding the death process, a “faith system” may be of great help; if you can get the person involved in his/her religious faith, the subject of death is well covered.

Regarding fear of letting go and isolation, assist then person to get his/her “house in order.” This entails a will, funeral arrangements, burial plot, etc. Also attempt to have the person and family involved discuss the situation.

Regarding meaninglessness of one’s life, have the person do a “Life Script,” whereby he/she writes all the good things done for others, all accomplishments, etc. Then discuss with the person that had he/she not been there to do what he/she did at that time, no one else would have, and society would have been the worse for it. So he/she did make a difference. Truly, no person is an island!

Promoting Emotional Well-being

It is important to help the elderly remain involved in decision-making as long as possible. You must stress that needing help with everyday activities does not mean that they cannot make decisions for themselves. Also, granting others the right to decide does not mean you are ignoring or abandoning them. Caregivers need to be sensitive to the right combination of giving just the right amount of assistance and no more.


Ways to promote good mental health in the elderly:

  • encourage socializing with friends and relatives through visits, phone calls or letters.
  • arrange fun times such as parties or outings.
  • help start new hobbies or revive old ones.
  • listen, talk, and share feelings.
  • assure privacy.
  • treat with respect, not as little children unable to think for themselves.
  • encourage movement and exercise.
  • help find ways to be as useful as possible.
  • strive to keep the lines of communication open.



The Importance of Lifetime Learning

Research shows that reaction time may be slower in older people but they can still learn. Families and friends may need to be patient in waiting for responses. It is also important to remember that short-term memory may not be as good as it was.

The brain helps link people to the world. If we are able to process and understand what we see, hear and absorb from our senses, our experiences will become more meaningful.

Sometimes older people are incorrectly labeled as “senile”; the misconception is that they are no longer able to think for themselves. However, for the most part, older people continue to make good use of their creative powers, and as is true for all parts of the body, the brain usually will function better if it is used regularly.

Lifetime learning means exploring new ideas, whether this is from reading, listening to radio or television, trying a new hobby, or trying a new recipe. It can include lively conversation with friends and family. What it boils down to is a willingness to keep exploring the many adventures that life has to offer. The benefits of lifetime learning include more enthusiasm for life, less boredom and depression, increased feeling of self-esteem and self-respect, more interest in the surrounding world, and new ideas to share with family and friends.

Memory Problems

Memory loss can be one of the hardest problems for both the care-receiver and the caregiver. Some memory problems are treatable, some are not. Therefore, it is important for the doctor to determine the causes of memory loss in the individual. Forgetfulness, even inability to recognize familiar faces and places, might result from such treatable causes such as malnutrition related to improper eating habits, alcohol, side effects of medications, loneliness, isolation, few chances to socialize with others, sensory impairment (decreased vision, decreased hearing), surgery or accident resulting in injury to body, viral infections or other illness, or depression or other mental illness.

Sensory Problems

People who have losses in hearing and vision may have trouble understanding things consequently negatively affecting their emotional well-being. Basic aids to hear and see are vital. At times an older person may be cut off from the world because of wax in the ears or worn out hearing-aid batteries. Glasses may need to be adjusted or perhaps just cleaned. Good lighting, without glare, is important. Magnifying glasses or large print can make reading easier.


For people who are confused, the following tips can be useful:

  • Make changes in routines gradually,
  • Be clear about reminders for appointments or meetings,
  • Write simple directions in large, clear print,
  • Use large labels (words or pictures) on drawers and shelves to identify contents,
  • have clocks and calendars clearly visible and mark off passing days,
  • Make certain that medicine is being taken regularly,
  • Confused or forgetful patients must have assistance with their medications,
  • Encourage consumption of nutritious foods,
  • Encourage movement and/or exercise as this will increase circulation of the blood and help improve bodily functions, including the ability to think.


Behavioral Problems

For people who are acting out, being disruptive, or have other undesirable behaviors, it is best to not antagonize or confront but to temporarily remove your presence from the person, giving the message that “I love/care for you but not this behavior.” Below are some suggestions to minimize undesirable behaviors:

  • Avoid confrontation. If the behavior deals with disrobing, offer brightly clothes which make the person feel good.
  • Don’t argue. If the person becomes too agitated, change the subject/object to something completely different.
  • Reduce stimulation. Lower lighting, reduce noise (radio, TV) to soothing music, minimize items in the area to a few possessions known to the person, and avoid clutter.
  • Promote familiar objects, pictures.
  • Walk slowly with the person to reduce anxiety and stress the muscle tension.


Mental Stimulation

Because many older people enjoy recalling events from past years, families and friends should encourage the sharing of stories. Activities which stimulate the brain (visiting with others) can contribute to the goal of continued lifetime learning.

Often, older people can become happier, more productive individuals when they are encouraged to perform fun, brain-stimulating activities. The following activities are especially good for homebound elderly:

  • sew or knit,
  • be a friendly telephone caller,
  • be a foster grandparent,
  • be a pen pal,
  • be a reader to children at an elementary school,
  • save stamps for collectors,
  • write favorite recipes on cards and share them with others,
  • read books, magazines, newspapers,
  • do puzzles (jigsaw, crossword),
  • try artwork (calligraphy, painting, drawing),
  • write or record memoirs, poetry, thoughts,
  • keep a joke book,
  • care for pets or plants,
  • listen to soothing music,
  • take correspondence courses,
  • play musical instruments,
  • start or re-arrange a family photo album,
  • volunteer, at libraries, hospitals, museums, schools, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP),
  • bake for self and others,
  • plan a potluck or brown-bag lunch at home,
  • tutor or visit with children and youth,
  • type for self and others,
  • participate in radio call-in shows,
  • learn to use a computer.
  • In addition, older people who are physically able should be encouraged to participate in swimming, bowling, gardening, dancing, miniature golf, nature walks, mall-walking, jogging, shuffleboard and other activities outside the home.
  • Drawing, writing, reading, crafts, taking classes, and other hobbies encourage creativity. Indoor games including chass, checkers, monopoly, cards, billiards and Parcheesi provide interesting relief from boredom as well.


Copyright 2017 –  Helen Justice GCM – Elder Care Navigator and Advocate – Advanced Wellness GCM, Inc


Known by many as “The Elder Care Navigator”, Helen Justice is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager trained to assist elders and their families with the process of aging with dignity and grace.  Her knowledge and experience insures elders obtain quality care and transitional preparation for their future.  More important than the financial aspect of aging is the social and emotional component that elder care places on the family.  Go to for information on no fee seminar.