Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Social Media for Sensitive Situations

Social Media for Sensitive Situations

Have you used social media for sensitive situations? I have.
Facebook is my site of choice for these situations because that’s where most of my friends are.

Recently a loved one faced some significant health issues and having Facebook as a communication tool was a blessing. It gave us a way to reach many friends and acquaintances with the initial news. I also posted when there were periodic updates about progress and setbacks.

Recommendations for Using Social Media for Sensitive Situations

Call and/or email close family members and friends before putting anything on social media. You don’t want one of these folks to be blind-sided by learning of something important on social media.

Email essentially the same thing to friends and family that you post on social media. You might elaborate a bit for different folks on the specifics But using the same basic information makes it easier for you and avoids confusion. Creating separate distribution groups allows for easy tailoring of communication to each group.

Remember that everyone isn’t on Facebook (or other social sites). And, even someone who uses Facebook might not check it regularly or might miss your post.

Make sure you have the permission of the loved one to post on Facebook (or other sites). If they have not shared information already, ask them directly if it’s OK to post about what is going on.

Sometimes the loved one is unable to post, so asks you to post for them. Have them dictate to you exactly what they want to say. If they want you to say something a certain way, honor their wishes. On your own personal page, you may choose to vary the presentation. But on their page, it should be as though they wrote it themselves.

Two things to avoid: posting too often and sharing too much personal information. Give them the general outline of what is going on. If the loved one is up to communicating with folks, encourage his/her friends to reach out via Facebook messaging and/or texting. Also suggest that people can reach out to you via Facebook messaging and/or texting or calls.

If neither of you is up to it, ask a close friend or relative to handle the individual communications for you.

You don’t have to respond to every comment. It’s OK to post one comment thanking everyone for their support. When you reply individually, remember to click on the word Reply right under their comment. Then all the others who left comments won’t be notified.

How About You?

What has been your experience using social media (especially Facebook) to communicate information about sensitive situations? What do’s and don’ts do you recommend?

Author -  Joyce Feustel

- By Joyce Feustel

Joyce Feustel helps people, especially those ages 45 and up, to become more comfortable using social media, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

She works with business owners, business development professionals, leaders of nonprofit organizations, job seekers, retired people, consultants, and many others. Find her at

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Courage Opens All Doors

Courage Opens All Doors

"How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging someone to answer?" – Rabia, Sufi Mystic

“When one door closes, another door opens,” states an old adage. How many of us have heard or read that statement when facing a particularly difficult obstacle? Seniors may find themselves experiencing that phrase when they deal with a difficult member of their community or when they have to confront a challenge in their family. In those two examples, that goodwill phrase probably does not help to quell uncertainty or the anxiety it produces. The real issue is not about whether the door is opening or closing, but how seniors deal with the place in between.

Many people have called this in between place “hell in the hallway” while other people refer to this emotion as “closing off” or “going underground.” I have even heard it called “the room of a thousand demons.” It’s as if the door is locked from the inside. Seniors feeling this impasse can find themselves in a predicament called Stuckthinking™ or trapped in a state of inertia causing a restrictive feeling that squeezes their heart.

Seniors make choices about how they are going to spend their lives and who they are going to share their lives with, keeping busy until it may be too late. Rushing through life, they rarely see that complacency filled with excuses and justifications seeped into their spirits and drained their precious reservoir of courage. At 60 years of age we may eventually see that the people we called our friends have now passed away.

Seniors know that not all doors are locked from the inside. Some doors close in a necessary and positive way, such as when you choose to transfer your passion to a new life mission such as volunteering. More commonly in our minds, the closed door represents a negative event such as relocating from a wonderful congregation or an inability to come to an agreement with a complicated financial issue. During these times, seniors can find themselves trying to use force to heave the next door open. Determined to do whatever it takes to overcome this barrier, a confused senior wishing to do the right thing might be vaguely aware that they are forcing the issue. If they are alert, the use of force (recognized as a gnawing sense of discomfort) will tell them that this opportunity is probably not the right choice.

Despite the frustration and sense of loss, hell in the hallway provides a chance for introspection. This reflective opportunity sheds light on a person’s true heart and spirit intentions.

Courageous Conversations

Female seniors might hold themselves to a higher standard, which puts them under undue pressure such as always trying to be helpful. This is a Catch-22 if they are unable to muster the courage to say “no thank you” when they feel overwhelmed and need to take time to nurture their own spirits. So these women push wholeheartedly to open a door. The paradox is that by tapping into the reservoir of courage that already exists in each and every one of us we can open and close all doors with greater ease and grace.

In general, seniors may consider slowing down to examine their spiritual path and level of happiness by asking this difficult question: What is the courageous conversation I am not having?

Reflecting on that question seniors might discover that they are stuck in courage obstacles such as apathy, self-doubt, blame or full-blown denial. These obstacles confine seniors in the hallway without even noticing that there are doors! Once seniors have declared their willingness to confront their personal hurdles they have moved into the zone called “courageous intention.” Then, the path ahead opens and clarity reigns.

Courageous Choices

If fear occupies the hallway know that fear is nothing more than being stuck, and stuck is mired in inertia. So ask yourself: “Will you stay in the hallway or make a choice to open the door?” “Choices determine consequences,” David R. Hawkins, M.D. writes in Truth vs Falsehood: How to Tell the Difference, “which is a mechanism that is really impersonal and operates automatically…. One then realizes that there is no hand on the tiller but one’s own and that ‘I myself am heaven and hell.’”

Ask yourself: “What positive lifestyle choices have you made to align your life with your heart that exposes your true Self?” In fact, “heart and spirit” is the root of the word courage. Tapping into your courage enables you to stand in your true Self—your solid core. But, a senior must act to begin the courage process. Recall and list some of the times you found yourself in the hallway wondering if and where the next door would open. What patterns do you see? What are the feelings in your body?

Courage opens all doors. Seniors have the answers that brought them to the hallway; they have always been accessible. Perhaps, upon reflection you’re where you are because, in reality, most growth in consciousness comes in the lonely hallway. Pacing in the hallway, reassessing your hearts desires, delving deeper into your values—this may be the place where you discover loving acceptance for your life’s precious journey.

Grant yourself permission to use the hallway as a positive growth opportunity. It is never the place to stay, but a place to rest and reflect. Time in this hallway acts as a foil to the animated energy we need to claim the courage to act on what we know must be done.

When seniors give themselves permission to claim and apply their courage they feel renewed and able to continue facing life’s challenges. All you have to do is choose to awaken from the poppy field of dispiritedness and live from your essence. You do this by applying your innate courage! It is a perfect starting place if you’re a senior who wishes to “make courage my daily legacy.”

The door is open. What are you waiting for?

Author - Sandra Ford Walston

- Sandra Ford Walston

For more than 20 years, Sandra has engaged audiences from Vancouver to Mexico. She is the award-winning author of COURAGE and two other books on courageous leadership.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Secondary Insomnia in Older Adults: Don’t Take It Lying Down

Insomnia in Older Adults

Older adults are often sleep-deprived, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Despite the insidious myth that they need less sleep than they used to, they need restful slumber each night. Not only is getting good rest at night key to living longer, it is a must for living well. While a study found that some doctors dismiss older adults’ complaints about not getting enough sleep, sleep medicine specialists advise that people over 60 get between 7 to 9 hours of rest a night.

Insomnia is a menace to nearly half of all adults in the U.S. over the age of 60. Since the sleep thief robs them of the one free thing that helps them stay healthy, strong, and active, it is key to understand the reasons for sleep deprivation. Fortunately, everyone can adapt healthy sleeping habits at any age. Difficulties with sleep should not be treated as an inevitable part of aging. Instead, “these sleep complaints are often secondary to medical and psychiatric illness, the medications used to treat these illnesses, circadian rhythm changes, or other sleep disorders,” according to Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego.

Unfortunately, getting the much-needed rest does not get easier as we get older. There are two general types of insomnia with which doctors diagnose older adults: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is a condition that arises independently of other ailments; secondary insomnia results from other physiological troubles. It does not help older adults that most of the focus on treatment is one that assumes the insomnia is primary, while most cases of insomnia among the seniors are secondary, brought on by other medical conditions or drug side effects. In fact, people with secondary insomnia have been found to be more impaired during the day than people with primary insomnia.

“Insomnia is more common for seniors, partly because of health issues, partly because of the anxiety and the concerns of aging, and sometimes because of medication,” says Jack Gardner, a sleep medicine neurologist at Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie, Texas.

What Causes Secondary Insomnia in Older People

Thermoregulation issues. As we age, the body’s ability to maintain a healthy core temperature can become compromised. The reason we sometimes see older people wearing a sweater on a hot day is that their body heat production is off. Most body heat is owed to metabolism in the core organs and muscles, but by the time we are 70, we lose 30 percent of muscle mass and our physical activity decreases. Menopause, too, comes with its own thermoregulation problems. Thermoregulation affects sleep because it’s a trigger both for falling asleep and for waking: We tend to feel tired at night when our temperature declines (that’s why falling asleep in a cooler room is ideal) and wake up in the morning when our temperature rises.

The best way to counteract thermoregulation troubles is to keep up with exercise (safe weight lifting can help build and maintain muscle mass even after 60).

A wide range of injuries and advancing illnesses. Over time, the longer we live, the more chronic illnesses, conditions, and injuries accumulate that can keep us up at night. The sudden appearance of insomnia can be one of the first signs that a serious illness is ahead. For example, in a 2012 study researchers found that sleep problems were the strongest early predictor of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes the conditions themselves do not affect sleep, but the side effects or interactions caused by prescription medications do.

The more common sleep thieves that cause secondary insomnia include:

  • Weight gain

  • Back pain

  • Menopause

  • Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and other neurological disorders

  • Prostate enlargement, bladder failure, and other issues that cause incontinence

  • Arthritis

  • Heart disease

  • Cancers

  • GI problems

  • Respiratory issues

Sleep-specific conditions. As we age, the likelihood of sleep disorders increases as well. Often, they are secondary in the sense that they are caused by non-sleep related factors. Older adults are at greater risk for restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and snoring. The risk for sleep apnea and snoring problems increases with weight gain.

How to Treat Secondary Insomnia

Even when we cannot entirely eliminate sleep troubles, the good news is that most of us—at any age—have at our disposal the means to curbing it. Here are some things that sleep-deprived older adults dealing with secondary insomnia should keep in mind:

  1. Talk to your doctor about underlying conditions. Whether the insomnia is caused by thermoregulation issues, various health conditions, diseases, or injuries, or sleep disorders, working with one’s primary physician to treat the underlying causes of sleep disturbances is a must.

  2. Ask your doctor if your specific type of sleep troubles may be an indication of other diseases.

  3. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions and side effects that may be interrupting your sleep.

  4. Ask your doctor about natural supplements such as melatonin and valerian root.

  5. If your doctor prescribes sleeping pills, ask about the long-term plan and monitor the side effects. At least 20 percent of older adults use a prescription sleeping aid. Keep in mind that sleeping pills work, but often cause dependency and lose their efficacy over time and many have troubling side effects. “Older adult insomnia is often treated pharmacologically,” according to Dr. Martita A. Lopez, “but older adults are especially vulnerable to adverse effects from hypnotic medication, such as memory impairment and impaired daytime performance.”

  6. Incorporate healthy sleep hygiene. Finally, older adults with insomnia should take the same steps that anyone should when tackling primary insomnia at any age:
    • Avoid caffeine in the afternoons and evenings.

    • Do not watch TV or use the computer an hour or two before bedtime.

    • Try to go to bed at the same time each day.

    • Exercise during the day.

    • Avoid alcohol two hours before bed or using it in lieu of sleeping aid. While it can help us fall asleep fast, the arousals produced by alcohol can bring on sweats, headaches, waking after 3 a.m., and fitful dreaming.

    • Avoid drinking an hour before bed and try to empty your bladder before falling asleep.

    • Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room. Be mindful of your own thermoregulation issues, and work to offset them.

    • If you sleep with a partner and she or he snores, look into sleeping with earplugs or other options to make sure your sleep is not disturbed.

    • Sleep on a comfortable mattress. Older adults suffering from back pain ought to be mindful of proper alignment and pressure points as they pick a mattress. For the people who lost muscle mass, body weight, and who have osteoarthritis or rheumatism, a change of mattress from firm to medium-firm or medium can be in order.

    • Try establishing a routine of mindfulness meditation.

The bottom line for older adults suffering from insomnia is that whether it’s caused by underlying conditions or medication side effects, they can take charge of curbing their sleep troubles. Even people saddled with some daunting health challenges—like chronic back pain or Alzheimer’s—can and should take measures to improve their sleep, and thus at least slow down the progress of diseases.

Research continues to show that sleep and exercise are the fountains of youth that can help older adults not only live longer lives, but also enable them to be fully present and awake for them.

Author -  Agnes Green

- By Agnes Green

Agnes Green is a researcher for the sleep science hub She holds two masters degrees in the social sciences from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. She sleeps most soundly after a kettlebell workout in Portland, Oregon.


Sleep and Aging,” NIH Senior Health.

Do Seniors Need Less Sleep?,” WebMD.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Disorders in Older Adults” Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Ph.D., American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

Primary versus secondary insomnia in older adults: subjective sleep and daytime functioning” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Geriatric Thermoregulation” Robert C. Knies, RN MSN CEN.

Disrupted sleep may predict Alzheimer’s” Mo Costandi, Nature.

Sleep and Aging – Senior Sleep Guide”

Older Adults and Insomnia Resource Guide” Martita A. Lopez, PhD.

Alcohol and Sleep”

Sleeping with a Snorer” The New York Times.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Generations Share Housing in Win-Win Situation for All

Shared housing options for older adults

Several places pair older adults with foster families in supportive communities.

For those who bemoan the lack of contact today between older and younger people, a new innovation in housing is providing hope for the future. Intergenerational housing brings together up to three generations in a community. One model pairs foster families with older adults who offer their services and support, while another joins military veterans with others in a supportive community. In the Netherlands, college students get free housing in a senior retirement complex in exchange for helping older residents.

Help for Foster Families

Hope Meadows, in Rantoul, Ill., was designed to combine several vulnerable populations—children in foster care, their foster families and older adults—in what has proven to be a win-win situation. The intergenerational community was started in 1994 to help ease an urgent social crisis. Brenda Eheart was a sociology professor at the University of Illinois when she became aware of large numbers of children separated from their birth parents in the wake of the crack epidemic in Illinois. All too often, the children were not adopted together, and foster parents weren’t getting the social and emotional support they needed to raise often difficult children. She founded Hope Meadows in an effort to build communities where foster families and older adults could live together and help each other.

The older residents are obligated to engage regularly in various supportive activities, such as mentoring, tutoring and gardening. But many say they get as much out of the arrangement as they give. For one, this is a chance to contribute to the world, but they are also on the receiving end of a lot of affection. One Hope Meadows resident describes his experience:

We had retired and we were undecided as to what we wanted to do. You get to a point in your life; you know you feel like, ‘Well, I am used up. Nothing’s left.’

But then we got involved with Hope. . . . It’s so gratifying to see the changes in these children and to feel like we have a part in that. We see the children come in and realize the needs they have. They are so hungry for love and attention. And then we give this to them. And it is so rewarding.

I know the primary focus is on the children, but they also make us feel so good because they are concerned about us. I can hardly step outdoors without one of the children asking, ‘How is Grandma Mary doing? Is she feeling okay?’ And they are real concerned. . . . Things like that make you feel a part of something.

Today, more than 20 kids, constituting seven families, live in Hope Meadows. Seniors come from all over Illinois and the United States to be a part of the community. These older residents monitor the playground; play croquet, basketball and soccer; and throw Frisbees with the children. They paint the interior of homes for incoming residents and keep the grounds free of weeds and filled with flowers. They take the children on outings, including a sightseeing trip to Washington, D.C. One resident took her 6-year-old neighbor to her sister’s farm, where three generations—grandparents, parents and children—readily accepted the boy. He later told his adopted “grandmother” that he had never seen so many nice daddies.

College Dorm in Senior Housing

In the Netherlands, there’s a different kind of partnership between older and younger generations. At the residential and care center Humanitas, college students get free room and board in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month. This helps solve two problems: a shortage of decent, affordable student housing and a need to fill long-term facilities after the Dutch government’s 2010 decision to restrict continuing-care funding for citizens over age 80. Students teach residents new skills, like email, social media and Skyping. And not only do older residents get connected to the outside world, but also to the younger generation.

The Ideal Intergenerational Community

The New Cities Initiative, an interdisciplinary initiative on aging and housing at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, spent three years studying and consulting with experts from various fields. It identified several qualities that an ideal intergenerational community should possess. They include:

  • Bringing inhabitants and people of all ages together through both planned and spontaneous interactions.

  • Housing based on universal design principles to enhance aging in place, visitability, user friendliness, health and healthcare.

  • Walkable open areas and bicycle paths leading to medical assistance, recreation, shopping for essentials, natural settings and special places that embody and enhance intergenerational life.

  • Affordable housing for low- as well as middle-income people.

  • Connections to the outside world, including public transportation and electronic connections not only to the Internet, but also to future innovations in telecare and telemedicine services.

Since Humanitas opened its doors to students in 2012, two more nursing homes in the Netherlands have followed suit, and a similar program was recently introduced in Lyon, France. In the U.S., Judson Manor retirement community in Cleveland opened its doors in 2010 to graduate-level students from the Cleveland Institute of Music. In exchange for free accommodations, the students provide cultural programming at all three of Judson’s retirement communities. The relationship has flourished, with students and residents becoming friends, and residents sharing art lessons, cooking tips and career advice.

Recently, Judson expanded the program to include undergraduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Supporting Military Veterans

In New Orleans, plans are underway for Bastion, an intergenerational community for wounded, ill or injured veterans who will live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers. Bastion is the brainchild of Dylan Tete, who suffered from depression after serving in Iraq. After he found help, he wanted to create a community that would support men and women with brain injuries or with post-traumatic stress syndrome, among other issues. He also wants to include military widows with small children, and older adults—either former military retirees or civilians. Because the military is built on the philosophy of watching your buddy’s back, Tete wants to continue that safety net in civilian life.

Other Communities

Generations of Hope, a nonprofit foundation, is a pioneer in promoting intergenerational housing. In addition to Hope Meadows, another of its successful communities is Bridge Meadows. Based in Portland, Ore., this community opened in 2011. Families who adopt at least three children from the foster care system can rent 4-bedroom houses at Bridge Meadows. Meanwhile, seniors who live there must spend at least seven hours per week volunteering with the children, including teaching arts and crafts, giving music lessons, leading story hours and going to the park.

Three other places that adopted the Generations of Hope philosophy—older adults volunteering their time for reduced housing costs, with a focus on vulnerable populations—are Hope Village in Phoenix; the Treehouse Community in Easthampton, Mass.; and New Life Village in Tampa, Fla. New Life was founded by Sister Claire LeBoeuf of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Cross, who has spent her entire adult life advocating for abused and neglected children.

Other intergenerational communities are open to anyone, not just foster families. Two of these are Fresno Cohousing in Fresno, Calif., and Camelot Cohousing, in Berlin, Mass. Like the other intergenerational communities, older residents praise the interaction with children. Said one resident at Fresno: “It's great to watch kids tear up and down the sidewalk on their scooters or stop to talk to us. . . . Senior cohousing, I think, would be very boring.” And a member of Camelot declared, “I love that I get to have relationships with children in the community as well as older people.”


The Nursing Home That's Also a Dorm,” Oct 2, 2015, City Lab.

A way of life that makes a difference,” Generations of Hope.

The Age-Old Old Age Problem,” Sept. 14, 2014, Newsweek.

Intergenerational Ingenuity: Mixing Age Groups in Affordable Housing,” Aug. 28, 2013, Urban Land Magazine.

Intergenerational Cohousing,” March 28, 2011, AARP Bulletin.

Intergenerational Communities,” New Cities Initiative, University of Kansas.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, April 7, 2017

Senior Runs to Raise Money for Alzheimer’s

Jack Fusell Alzheimer's awareness running

After Jack Fussell lost his father to the disease and then almost died from an ulcer, he committed to a life of health and giving back.

A combination of factors led Jack Fussell, in his 60s, to run from one end of the country to the other. First was the death of his father from Alzheimer’s disease. A year later, he was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer and told he had only one year left to live. The Georgia resident decided it was time to turn his life around and commit to a healthy lifestyle. He started by running and dropped his weight from 250 to 100 pounds.

At some point, he decided his exercise regimen should be for a good cause—to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer’s. In 2013, at age 62, he ran from Georgia to California. The following year, he repeated the trip, although he ran only part of the time, preferring to use a car so he could meet with more people. He did some 50 TV and 100 newspaper interviews, plus met with four governors. He’s met with students and chambers of commerce—whomever he could find to talk to about the disease that currently affects 5 million Americans, at a cost of $259 billion annually. Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Want to Make a Difference?

Download the Charity Miles app for Android and iPhone and you too can help support charities when you walk, run, or bike. Simply launch the app, choose a charity, and the selected charity then earns money for every mile covered. Walkers and runners earn 25 cents per mile; bikers earn 10 cents per mile.

Alzheimer’s is devastating,” Fussell says. “It’s hard for the individual that is diagnosed, but it’s really the families and caregivers that struggle the most. Not only do people need to donate to this cause, but they need to know how serious it is.”

Fussell was recognized by Maria Shriver on as an “Architect of Change”—people who see a problem and who do something about it.

He said he was drawing attention to Alzheimer’s for two reasons. First, he wants to let caregivers know that they can get help from the Alzheimer’s Association, which reports that 40 percent of caregivers die before the patients because of the stress. Second, he wants to inform the general public “how devastating [Alzheimer’s] is to patients and caregivers . . . so maybe you will feel what you need to feel to call lawmakers and put it on their radar.“


About my Epic Journey from Savannah, GA to Monterey, California to #ENDALZ,” April 3, 2017, Across the Land.

Across the Land - Jack Fussell,” Alzheimer’s Association.

Running Across America to Spread Awareness for Alzheimer’s,” March 23, 2015,

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Avoid Slow Traffic with Your Phone

How to Avoid Slow Traffic with Your Phone

Smartphone apps alert you and find new routes to your destination, and will even find you a parking spot.

In the context of life’s small frustrations, sitting in traffic is one of the more challenging. This is especially true when our days are crammed with obligations and appointments, and we don’t have time to just sit there. In the old days—pre-smartphones—we depended on our car radio to tell us about accidents on major highways.

But with the introduction of smartphone technology, we don’t need to rely on traffic helicopters. There are dozens of apps that can help you navigate through busy traffic. And after you arrive at your destination, an app can help you find a parking spot—another of life’s small headaches.


One of the most popular navigation apps is Waze. What sets this free app apart from others is that it collects information from other drivers to alert you to congested traffic. Drivers can use the Waze app to report traffic accidents, hazardous conditions, road closures and police officers ahead. Its maps use icons to show specific hazards and even how long the traffic jam extends down the highway. When Waze spots congestion, it automatically reroutes you to a less crowded road.

Google Maps

Although Google Maps does much more than navigation, such as finding the closest restaurant, some experts consider it the best for surviving heavy traffic.

Because Google Maps has the most users of any mapping app—some billion people use it each month—it can gather the most information. If your Android smartphone has location services turned on or your iPhone has Google Maps open, you are continuously sending data to Google, which uses that information to determine traffic flow, according to Business Insider. For example, if you’re sitting in traffic, Google knows that traffic is backed up and provides customers with different routes.

Since Google bought Waze in 2013, Google can combine its data with reports from Waze users, historical traffic data it's built up over the years and reports from local traffic departments, such as police.

Other Traffic Apps

Other traffic apps might not be as popular or powerful as Google Maps or Waze, but they get the job done.

Michelin Navigation. In addition to the standard features of a traffic app, this free worldwide tool continuously displays speed limits and provides visual warnings for excessive speed.

INRIX Traffic. This app is powered by Autotelligent, a cloud platform that proactively makes decisions so drivers don’t have to. INRIX Traffic creates a daily itinerary of upcoming drives, and Autotelligent monitors road conditions to determine the best time to leave and the optimal route to take based on real-time traffic and a driver’s preferred routes.

USA Traffic Cameras. By letting you view the traffic situation, this free app from Google Play could complement your traffic apps. It utilizes more than 16,000 cameras from over 200 cities and metropolitan areas. Another Google Play app that uses cameras is Total Traffic, which covers more than 75 metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Now Find a Place to Park

Waze recently added a "Where to park" feature, which finds the closest parking lots near your destination and tells you how long it will take to walk from the lots to your destination. Doing one better is Spot Hero, which also compares rates at different garages and lets you reserve and pay for the spot on your phone. Your parking pass, with a bar code for entry to the lot, also provides directions to the lot or garage. This app only works in selected cities, such as New York and Chicago. Check out its website for a complete list of participating cities.

Other parking apps will show you parking spots instead of garages. Parking Mate, an iOS app, shows you which parking locations are safe, notifies you when a meter will expire, informs you of restrictions such as street sweeping, and adds a text or photo to remind you where you've left your car.

Some apps are specific to large cities known for their parking issues. Can I Park Here? (NYC) lets you take a picture of a parking spot in New York City and then tells you if it’s a legal place to park—and therefore avoid a ticket. In this app, you can also set an alarm that alerts you 15 minutes before your meter expires. Chicago Parking lists meter rates for city neighborhoods and finds the closest fare box. It also includes information for 300 Chicago parking garages, with hours, rates and directions.


5 Best Navigation Apps,” July 06, 2016, Techlicious.

10 iPhone Apps to Help You Avoid Traffic on Your Commute,” Kenney Meyers.

9 Best Traffic App for Android to Hit the Throttle,” May 24, 2014, Joy of Android.

7 City Parking Apps to Save You Time, Money and Gas,” March 3, 2015, Mashable.

The best traffic apps for android and iOS,” Nov. 07, 2016,

The best iPhone apps for traffic information,” appPicker.

The 2 simple reasons why Google Maps is better than everything else,” Business Insider.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, April 3, 2017

Don’t Be Embarrassed About Incontinence

Incontinence in Older Adults

Many simple and effective solutions are available for an issue common among older adults.

Do you recognize this sign? Whenever you’re in a public place, you’re scouting out where the closest bathroom might be—just in case. If so, you’re not alone. More than 25 million Americans are affected by either bladder or bowel incontinence, according to the National Association for Continence. One in 3 older women is unable to control their bladder. Although such problems can happen at any age, it's more common in older adults.

But incontinence is a hidden issue. Most people are too embarrassed to talk about it, even to their doctor, and feel some personal shame. Despite high success rates in treating incontinence, only 1 out of every 12 people affected seeks help. For the majority of those who suffer, incontinence is 100 percent treatable.

Causes of Incontinence

Although there are short-term reasons for incontinence, such as a urinary tract infection, if it becomes a normal part of your life, other issues may be causing loss of bladder control:

  • Weak bladder muscles

  • Overactive bladder muscles

  • Damage to nerves that control the bladder from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease

  • Blockage from an enlarged prostate in men

  • Diseases such as arthritis that may make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time

  • Medication and side effects

Fecal incontinence is commonly the result of muscle or nerve injuries. For women, obstetrical injuries (such as when episiotomy or forceps are used during childbirth) are the number one cause and produce about 60 percent of cases. Women may suffer nerve damage in childbirth that can cause loss of bowel control later in life.

It is important to note that fecal incontinence is not an inevitable consequence of aging. It may indicate a more serious condition, including (from A Place for Mom)

  • Diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Alzheimer's or diabetes.

  • Long-term, frequent reliance on laxatives.

  • Constipation: When stools become hardened in the rectum, the looser, watery stool must move around the drier mass and often leaks from the anus.

  • Diarrhea: Especially in cases of sphincter muscle and nerve damage, the loose stools of diarrhea are more challenging to retain in the rectum.

  • Scarring from radiation or surgery, which can harden rectal walls, diminishing their ability to hold stool.

  • Virtually any operation involving the rectum and anus, including hemorrhoid removals, which risks damaging the sphincter muscles.

  • Medication and side effects.

Start with Exercises

Treatments range from exercises and dietary changes to surgery. Experts advise that you start with the least invasive, which involves retraining your body.

How to Do Kegel Exercises

The National Institute on Aging provides a brief description of Kegel exercises that help tighten your pelvic floor muscles.

Locate your pelvic muscles by stopping the flow of urine midstream. Empty your bladder, lie down, squeeze and hold these muscles for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Work up to doing 10 of these exercises three times a day.

The muscles in your pelvic area need to be strengthened, both for bladder and bowel control. Experts highly recommend Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic muscle exercises (see sidebar for how to do them). Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer and strengthens your anal sphincter.

Because it can be difficult to find those muscles precisely, you can use biofeedback. Some biofeedback tools have small exposed sensors that are placed inside the vagina and capture electrical activity. Others can be placed externally outside the anal opening, while others can detect contractions of the pelvic floor. For example, a probe inserted in the rectum measures sphincter contraction and muscle pressure, and you can use that information to determine if you are doing the exercises correctly.

Another recommended tip is to “train” your bladder to urinate on a set schedule, which may help you control your bladder. For example, set a time to urinate every hour and then slowly extend the time between bathroom trips. A similar schedule for your bowels can also be helpful.

Watch Your Fluid / Food Intake

To avoid leakage, many people suffering from bladder control problems may limit how much they drink, but this approach actually worsens the problem. Less liquid concentrates urine, which irritates the bladder, causing you to go to the bathroom more often. Reducing fluid intake can also encourage bacteria growth, which can lead to loss of bladder control. For both bladder and bowel issues, drinking the right amount of fluids is necessary. Medical experts recommend six to eight glasses a day.

It’s also necessary to drink the right kind of fluids. Carbonated beverages and drinks with artificial sweeteners can irritate your bladder and make leakage more likely. Similarly, cutting back on caffeine—from coffee, tea, chocolate and sodas—can make your bladder more comfortable. And alcohol signals your body to get rid of more fluid than you take in, so you end up with more urine in your bladder, which can cause leaking.

For bowel issues, add high-fiber foods to your diet, including whole wheat grains, fresh vegetables and beans. The fiber softens stools and prevents diarrhea and constipation that may lead to incontinence. Psyllium-containing products, such as Metamucil, add bulk to the stools.

Medicines Can Help

Medications can calm bladder muscles and nerves to prevent urinary leakage. Other drugs can help the bladder empty more fully during urination and tighten muscles to lessen leakage. These treatments come as pills, liquids, creams (such as estrogen vaginal cream) or patches.

For bowel control, medications include anti-diarrheal drugs that prevent watery stools. Check out over-the-counter options like Imodium, and prescription medications such as Lomotil, Nulev and Lotronex.

It’s important to never stop or start medications without first consulting with your health care provider. This includes over-the-counter medicines, which are designed to be solutions for short-term episodes and not long-term management.

Medical Treatments

If dietary changes and bladder and bowel training don’t help, your healthcare provider may suggest medical treatments. These include the following:

Medical devices. For women, a urethral insert blocks the urethra temporarily to prevent leaking when it is most likely to happen, such as during physical activity. These can be uncomfortable and can cause urinary tract infections. Another device, a pessary, holds up a prolapsed bladder or vagina.

Nerve stimulation. Mild electric currents are sent to the nerves around the bladder that help control urination. You can do this at home by placing an electrode in the vagina or anus, or you can undergo minor surgery to place an electrode under the skin on the leg or lower back.

When All Else Fails: Surgery

Only consider surgery after other treatments have failed. There are more than 150 procedures available. In a more common procedure for women, a doctor injects a substance that thickens the area around the urethra to help close the bladder opening. This is a temporary fix and must be repeated every three months. For men, surgeons can implant a device that holds the urinary sphincter closed. To urinate, one presses the implanted valve.

For loss of bowel control, the most common surgery is sphincteroplasty, which surgically reconstructs the anal sphincter muscle that controls bowel movements.

Although experts agree that incontinence is common, it is not a normal part of aging. Because there are multiple causes, there may be no single treatment that is totally effective. An accurate diagnosis is crucial, so it’s important to speak to your health care provider about incontinence.


Urinary Incontinence,” NIH Senior Health.

Elderly Urinary Incontinence: Causes & Care,” April 29, 2015, A Place for Mom.

Elderly Fecal Incontinence: Symptoms & Care,” April 30, 2015, A Place for Mom.

Conditions,” NAFC.

Urinary Incontinence,” National Institute on Aging.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors