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Friday, April 29, 2011

Social Networking for Seniors

As a Communications Manager, I’ve been trying to learn more about social media and how this new way of communicating can be beneficial to reach the different groups we work with – residents, prospective residents, adult children, staff members, colleagues and the broader public.

Part of my goal has been to find the appropriate channels of communication for our different publics and find ways to get our residents involved with social media activities and postings.

To educate myself, I’ve been reading different articles and a few studies to learn more about social networking and older adults. According to a *Pew Research Center study released in August of last year, “Social networking use among internet users, ages 50 and older, has nearly doubled from 22% to 42% over the past year.” I’m sure this amount has increased even more since then!

The Pew Research Center study showed there were many implications why social media might be catching on for older adults and I found the results to be quite interesting. The three main implications include:

1) “ networking users are much more likely to reconnect with people from their past, and these renewed connections can provide a powerful support network when people near retirement or embark on a new career.”
2) “...older adults are more likely to be living with a chronic disease, and those living with these diseases are more likely to reach out for support online.”
3) " media bridges generational gaps. While the results can sometimes be messy, these social spaces pool together users from very different parts of people’s lives and provide the opportunity to share skills across generational divides.”

There’s no doubt, social media and internet use is growing across all generations! And these new ways of communicating can be beneficial to help our seniors stay connected with family and friends, educate themselves about chronic diseases and other health topics and provide an amazing opportunity to leave a legacy and share their skills and talents with others.

*Pew Research Center, Older Adults and Social Media: Social networking use among those ages 50 and older nearly doubled over the past year.
Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist (August 27, 2010)
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Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for a retirement community and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Guidelines Redefine Alzheimer's - US News and World Report

The first new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer's disease in nearly 30 years expand the definition to include patients with earlier stage symptoms, emphasizing that the disorder begins wreaking havoc on the brain years before it can be detected. The recommendations, issued today by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association, recognize two new categories of the disorder: a preclinical phase that occurs before patients show any memory loss or thinking problems, and "mild cognitive impairment," defined by subtle symptoms that don't interfere with daily functions. "We're redefining Alzheimer's disease and looking at this in a different way than has ever been done," Creighton Phelps, director of the National Institute on Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Centers Program, told The New York Times. "I think we're going to start to identify it earlier and earlier." The guidelines are a stark contrast from the last set of recommendations, published in 1984, which only recognized the full-blown dementia phase of the disease. The shift encourages early screening for Alzheimer's, as well as continued research into drugs that could halt early brain changes and into ways to identify people who would most benefit from such treatment. "We've been an advocate for early diagnosis for many years," William Thies, chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, told Bloomberg. "It allows people to anticipate what will happen and plan their lives to minimize the impact of what's coming for them."

* Alzheimer's Disease Linked to Weaker Muscles

* Inflammation, Genes, and Hypertension All Contribute to Alzheimer's Risk

Preventing Alzheimer's Disease: 7 Risks to Consider

Click here to read the full article.

Blog posting courtesy of US News and World Report

Friday, April 22, 2011

Generation Alzheimer's

The good news is that death rates for many major diseases - HIV, stroke, heart disease, prostate cancer, and breast cancer - are declining. Sadly, we can't yet say the same about Alzheimer's. This year, the first of the Boomer Generation turns 65. To bring urgently-needed attention to the risk facing the Boomers, Alzheimer's Association recently released a groundbreaking study Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers.

Download Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers and learn more about what can be done to conquer this devastating disease!

Blog posting courtesy of Alzheimer's Association

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: $3 Million Awards Available to States for Background Checks

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is making available to states grants of up to $3 million each in connection with the agency's Nationwide Program for National and State Background Checks for Direct Patient Access Employees of Long -Term Care Facilities and Providers (CFDA Number: 93.506) (Funding Opportunity Number: CMS-1A1-11-001).

If you're a part of a state-level health or aging services agency, we advise you to get started on this now. The application deadline isn't until June 30, but the feds tell us they plan to act on these requests as they receive them.

Keep in mind this is not a competitive grant opportunity. All states submitting an application that ends up being scored by the feds at 70.2 or higher out of a possible 101 points will receive a grant. Applications scoring below 70.2 points won't be included as grantees.

States are supposed to use these funds to identify efficient, effective and economical ways for long-term care facilities and providers to conduct background checks on prospective direct patient/resident access employees. Eligible facilities and providers include: skilled nursing facilities; nursing facilities; home health agencies; hospice care providers; long-term care hospitals; personal care service providers; adult day care providers; residential care providers; assisted living facilities; and intermediate facilities for the mentally disabled.

Info: Questions,; for grant guidance, please visit

For more on this and other issues of important to seniors and those who serve them, be sure to read this week's issue of Aging News Alert, located online at

Blog posting courtesy of CD Publications - Independent Newsletter Publishers Since 1961

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Be a Companion to Seniors Who Are Challenged by Change

“To be fully human is to experience the deep meaning, profound growth, joy, pain, and suffering prompted by change.”
- Jane W. Barton

April's (pre-recorded) Educational Webinar, How to Be a Companion to Seniors Who Are Challenged by Change, presented by Jane W. Barton, is now available. This educational webinar focuses on the aspects of change; whether it be financial, relational, material, and/or physical and how critically important it is for those who are companioning and serving senior clients to recognize, name and address the grief resulting from significant life changes and the subsequent losses. By doing so, can facilitate the transitional process that leads to new beginnings for your senior clients.

During this webinar, attendees will learn:
> Exploring the process of Change – Transition – New Beginnings
> Identifying the Losses Prompted by Life Changes
> Recognizing the Symptoms of Hidden Grief
> Highlighting available resources to address grief and loss
> And much more

Reserve your copy today!

Price: Free to all CSAs, $49 for non-CSAs

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Case For Planning

I recently saw an article from Ben Stein. Mr. Stein has quite a varied background. He has been an attorney, a Department of Commerce economist, an adjunct university professor, speech writer for Presidents Nixon and Ford, a nationally syndicated columnist, author and actor (among a few other things).

Mr. Stein’s article made a case for financial planning. To start, he quoted Warren Buffett (a man certainly acquainted with making money work), who said, “It’s important to have a plan. An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan.”

Ben goes on to say, “If you have a good plan for your money, you are light years ahead of operating on a day-by-day, hit-or-miss basis. This means, very simply, that you should have a gifted financial planner. Put another way, unless you yourself are an expert in financial planning, unless you are either a registered money manager of some sort, or a planner of a high degree, you should have a financial manager and planner working for you. “

Have you ever gone through the planning process (it’s not the same thing as just having someone invest your money for you)? It takes time and work. However, as you unfold your own financial plan, you gain understanding and confidence in your future. Even if you already are in retirement, it’s still a good idea to visit with a trusted financial advisor. At the least, you’ll gain a clear understanding of your financial picture, and that can provide real peace of mind.

Blog posting provided by:

Michael Snowdon, CFP ®

Michael is president of WealthRidge, a wealth management and financial planning firm, and is a professor emeritus of the College of Financial Planning. His focus in financial planning is to coach people in the process of meeting their goals and achieving their dreams.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Medical Errors Occur More Often Than Thought; Mistakes, Hospital Patients - AARP Bulletin

Study finds mistakes affect 1 in 3 hospital patients

blog posting courtesy of AARP Bulletin, Medical Errors Occur 10 Times More Than Previously Thought

Ten years after a landmark study outlined how to combat medical errors in U.S. hospitals, researchers have found that errors may be 10 times more common than experts had thought.

But the new research in the April edition of the journal Health Affairs found that medical errors and other "adverse events" are still rampant. This study, using a more sensitive method of measuring, found that mistakes occur in one out of every three hospital admissions.

Read the full length of this AARP Bulletin:

Medical Errors Occur More Often Than Thought; Mistakes, Hospital Patients - AARP Bulletin

See also: How to protect yourself if you're hospital bound.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Retirement - The Best Use of Leisure Time

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.~ William Arthur Ward

Gone are the days of rushing to work, fighting traffic, meeting deadlines, hurried lunches and working overtime. Retirement is the time to slow down, blow off responsibilities, relax and play. This is your clients’ reward for all their years of hard work.

The question now is – what are your clients going to do with their leisure time? Can they pull off total leisure or will they need to blend it with other activity such as volunteering or a part-time job?

As a retiree, a client needs to build a balanced leisure lifestyle so as not to fall into a rut. Though each person must design his or her own activity mix, have your clients consider a mix that includes at least one activity in each of the following leisure categories:

1. Entertainment – i.e. reading, attending concerts, watching a favorite television show, dining out. Encourage each client to choose one or two as part of their ‘entertainment package’

2. Education. In retirement, just as in life, clients need to keep learning. A client may consider learning a new language, learning a new craft, studying genealogy. As with ‘entertainment’ have him or her consider adding at least one education activity to the leisure mix.

3. Travel. One way to add variety is to travel. The opportunities available to retirees are numerous.

4. Sports. Every client should have at least one sport. Whether it is hiking, biking, golf, swimming, fishing, playing tennis or power walking. The benefit to having a sport is staying physically fit.

5. Social Activities. Interacting with others is important at all stages of life, and especially as clients age. As part of human nature we are social beings and it’s the activities involving others that help us meet our social needs. Your clients may consider joining a social or service club, attending bingo or visiting friends - anything that gets them out of the house into a social setting.

6. Hobbies. Encourage your clients to find at least one hobby that interests them – an activity that gives them pleasure and is engaging without being overly time consuming.

Finding the right combination of entertainment, education, travel, sports, social activities and hobbies to match a client’s lifestyle and personality takes time and effort. Encourage your clients to experiment with their leisure activity selection until they find the right mix.

The trap of not creating a balanced leisure life is procrastination. Don’t let your clients put off their search! Start talking about the importance of building a balanced leisure lifestyle and encouraging them to check out the fun stuff. Get clients building their leisure plan today!

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don't Just Retire - Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.