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Friday, May 11, 2012

Music: the Effects Play on for Seniors

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” –William Congreve

We seniors routinely enjoy the numerous positive effects of music--it enchants, distracts, improves our moods, and helps to relieve our stress. This is true, not just of soothing music; upbeat dance music has the same effect of decreasing the stress hormone cortisol, along with increasing the level of antibodies.

Dr. Ronny Enk, who recently lead a study concerning music’s effect on the immune system says, “We think that the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement.” He is referring to the theory that music is represented in multiple parts of the brain, and accesses deeper pathways between neurons. It appears to enable stroke victims to connect their stored knowledge of words through songs, helping them to create the new connections needed for speech. Music has also been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients recall memories, and even restore cognitive function. It works the same way in all of us: when we listen to music we know, it stimulates the hippocampus which handles long-term storage in the brain. This can remind us of relevant memories we made while listening to a particular song.

Remarkable. Let the beat go on…

Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a freelance writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She lives in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Catching Your ZZZ’s

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 80% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 84 report having sleep problems. So the question is, what can all these people do in order to get their sleep?

The foundation offers some ideas to consider:
  • Avoid stimulants, such as coffee, tea, or chocolate—anything with caffeine in it—at least 3 or 4 hours before you go to bed.
  • Exercise in the morning or afternoon, but not in the evening.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Use the bed for sleeping and/or sexual activity.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol later in the evening; it can increase awakenings later in the night.
  • Try taking short naps, but keep in mind that sleeping in the daytime will affect your sleep at night. You may find that a 30-minute nap can decrease your nighttime sleep, or you may sleep for a shorter time.

There are also a number of behavioral modifications that seniors can make to establish healthy sleeping patterns. These include relaxation training which often involves reducing tension and muscular relaxation techniques. The foundation recommends that you not spend too much time lying awake in bed. If you are not able to fall asleep after 20 minutes, try getting out of bed and doing a quiet, relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to soft music. Then when you do feel sleepy, get back into bed and try to fall asleep again. Give it another 20 minutes; if it doesn’t work, repeat the process.

And, of course, always check with your doctor.

This blog is posted by Laraine Jablon.

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer specializing in social and health concerns of seniors. She lives in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meet Our April CSA Spotlight - Gordon Corn

I started my work career parking cars at the age of 15 at Harrah’s Club at Lake Tahoe. That job continued thru graduation from the University of Nevada in Reno in 1965. In the next few years I would complete my professional education and certifications as a CLU, registered rep of the NASD and student of numerous real estate endeavors. I have never had a job, you know the one that is 8 to 5 and payday is Friday. In addition to my real estate development activities I have recently completed my 30th year as a Franchisee of a very large organization and have sold my business interests to employees.

I have been richly blessed with good health, a beautiful wife of 45 years, a great son, daughter-in-law and wonderful grandson. I know that “it is not what I am looking at but rather what I see”. I see beauty in every aspect of my life. I know that every door that closes presents an opportunity for that door that opens ahead. I like most people. I have had both failures and successes. I know that I can make a difference in our world.

Within a few months of Uncle Don’s death in May of 2009, my wife Linda received a call from Don’s older brother who had been had been nominated as executor under Don’s will and some family trusts and who said he could not handle the task. My loving wife, Linda, was next in line and agreed to accept the job. After all, Linda had spent many summers with Aunt Catherine and Uncle Don in Longbeach as a high school girl. Aunt Kay, as we know her, was Linda’s only surviving relative and Linda felt strongly compelled to help.

Little did Linda know, nor did I, as an experienced small business person, the magnitude of the responsibility she was about to assume and how additional changes in the lives of our senior relatives would change.

Then in January it happened. Kay who is a bright and head strong ninety-six year old woman chose to climb a ladder in her kitchen to take down some dishes and fell. The resulting broken hip put Kay in the hospital. At this point, I must confess, that this “broken hip syndrome” (although the second most common reason for seniors being admitted to hospital) initiated the “end of life” syndrome as described by several of our doctor friends. Broken hip, loss of weight, pneumonia and death.

However Kay, not being one to give up, went thru the first three steps and then recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital. Since Linda and I live in the Denver area, assisting in the discharge sequence was a bit of an inconvenience. Never-the-less, Linda dutifully went to Long Beach and assisted.

We knew the travel routine from Denver to Long Beach route since Linda had been to the hospital on several previous occasions, first to visit Don and then to visit Kay, including being a witness to the performance of her “last rites” with the hope that she would nurse back to health. Although Linda was familiar with the day long travel from Denver to Long Beach, to Kay’s home and over to the hospital, what she was not familiar with was the events of discharge.

The kind and helpful social workers and hospital staff said to Linda…its time for Kay to leave and presented Linda with a stack of paper slightly larger than the Denver phone books. At the time, that meant about 4” of paper and about as much paper work to follow over the coming months. Linda was able to continue to work thru Don’s estate, received and documented her status as executrix, took charge of Kay’s affairs pursuant to a power of attorney, hired 24 hour care givers and arranged for hospice care.

As the weeks and months have passed, Linda now has five 3” binders of paper work, has traveled thousands and thousands of miles (exhausting for that wonderful seventy year young wife of mine) and spent hundreds of hours on the phone with Kay, her care givers, doctors, attorneys and accountants.

It has become quite clear to me that a very large section of our population is rapidly entering the “senior” stage of their life (data shows about 10,000 individuals turn 65 every day). My experience bears out and is equally supported by talking to many, many of my peers (most of whom are well educated professionals) that there is no one single source for help, information and guidance for seniors and their families.

We know that there are numerous and very large governmental agencies, many caring and dedicated non-profits and more than 40,000 assisted living facilities and tens of thousands of caregivers. We also know that 85% of all caregivers are like Linda, loving family members that have no professional background in this area and to whom the challenge of walking the maze of senior care is thrust upon them suddenly.

I decided that I wanted to help, to make a difference, to use my skills and background to make a tool available to any person who wanted it to assist them in navigating the maze that is the system now in place for assisting seniors and their families.

By comparison, even though I have been a small business person, this task is obviously overwhelming, complex, and confusing. I know, along with hundreds of others who are so generously offering support, direction and guidance, that our enterprise, will make a difference and I am humbled to be a founder and full time volunteer for that enterprise. Becoming a CSA has become a great benefit, a wealth of knowledge and an association I truly appreciate.

Posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spousal / Partner Relationships in Retirement

At retirement, one relationship that often changes is with your spouse or partner. In the early and middle years of a marriage, couples normally don’t spend a lot of time together. As partners, they are busy making a living, raising a family and fixing up a home. In a recent survey, it was found the average married couple spends only three or four hours a week together without the children, and that may be collapsing on the couch and watching TV.

Due to today’s hectic pace, each partner tends to develop his/her own schedule and routine around their work, family and home demands. Then retirement comes and it’s a time to relax and enjoy, which includes spending quality time with a partner. It’s supposed to be the time when we enrich our relationship; when we do things and go places together.

However, a relationship filled with good times is not something that just happens. Like all other aspects of retirement, it requires planning and effort. As part of your client’s plan, it’s important to recognize that partners have built up their own space and privacy needs. Each needs time to pursue his/her own interests, hobbies, tasks or just ‘chill out alone’.

One train of thought is if a client were apart from their partner eight hours a day during the working days, your client and his/her partner should plan to be apart approximately four hours a day in retirement. This enables each partner to have his/her own time and space. Encourage your client to talk with his/her partner about their individual needs and agree on how those needs can be successfully fulfilled.

Frank and Amber agreed that when Frank retired he would participate in activities outside the home three mornings a week. They also agreed while Amber had the house to herself, she would indulge in her hobby – pottery. The couple agreed that twice a week, they would walk to their favourite pastry shop for coffee and once a week have a ‘date night’. This arrangement has worked out well and Frank and Amber have recommended their ‘time and space’ plan to other retired couples.

As part of relationship planning, it’s important to identify to each other what retirement means in terms of roles and responsibilities. By doing this, your client creates a mini job description; it can outline dates, duties, responsibilities and authorities.

Before Dick and Anastasia began their retired life, they discussed who would be responsible for what in retirement. It was mutually decided that Dick would do the grocery shopping, snow shovelling and raking. He would make the bed each morning, prepare for dinner and several other domestic chores. As part of the division of duties, Anastasia would do the cleaning and vacuuming, washing and drying of clothes, folding and ironing. They agreed that household decorating would be done together. This sharing of responsibilities assisted Dick and Anastasia build a harmonious working relationship without one partner feeling he or she is doing the lion’s share of the work.

Though it is easy to take each other for granted, the preparation for retirement provides your client and his/her spouse an opportunity to assess and enhance their relationship. Being thoughtful, expressing appreciation, having a sense of fun and adventure, these are traits among others that add to the quality of a relationship and the satisfaction level between partners.

As part of your client’s spousal retirement planning, encourage him or her to do little things that add spice to the relationship – such things as buying flowers, sports equipment or treating their partner to lunch. Saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way to recognize what a partner does. Spending quality time together and sharing fun activities adds to any relationship.

Relationships are like a garden. They require regular care and feeding if they are to grow and become fruitful.

------- Richard (Rick) Atkinson, founder and president of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is the author of 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.