Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Recover From Congestive Heart Failure

How to Recover From Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects nearly five million adults in the United States, most of whom are older than 65, and is a leading cause of hospitalization and re-hospitalization amongst seniors.

There are several underlying conditions that lead to CHF, including coronary artery disease, which weakens and damages the heart. What happens is the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, and that negatively affects many other bodily functions. Fluid begins to back up in the lungs causing a loss of oxygen. The kidneys can’t remove excess fluid and it starts to accumulate primarily in the feet or lower legs. As a result, CHF causes difficulty in breathing, mobility, and extreme fatigue.

Congestive Heart Failure is one of the leading reasons for re-hospitalization and about 12% of CHF patients return to the hospital within 15 days of being discharged. CHF is considered a chronic illness. It can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. Having the information and support to manage CHF as you transition home makes the chance of ending up back in the hospital less likely.

Some of this preparation happens during discharge planning. While good discharge planning includes scheduling follow-up appointments and education about managing your illness, it’s not unusual for patients and family members to forget much of what they are told in the chaotic and stressful hospital setting.

Transitional care programs that involve visits to your home by a social worker or nurse can reinforce what you learn at discharge and have been found to effectively reduce re-hospitalization. It may also mean hiring private duty in-home care to assist with activities of daily living at home. Short-term respite stays in senior living communities is another great options.

Unmanaged CHF can greatly limit your ability to take care of even your most simple daily needs, and changes in symptoms can occur quickly and go unnoticed at home. Residential transitional care gives you time to recover, build strength and learn to manage and monitor CHF symptoms in a safe and comfortable environment.

Lifestyle changes are a key part of managing CHF. Assisted living staff can help you learn how to track your medications and develop and maintain an appropriate diet and exercise routine to support a speedy recovery. They can help you schedule follow-up appointments and provide transportation or make transportation arrangements for you. They can also help monitor important symptoms such as weight gain, breathing problems, swelling in the extremities, as well as teach you how to tell when a change in symptoms requires a call to the doctor.

Author -  Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD

- By Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD

Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University. She does research on services and supports for older adults including racial and ethnic disparities in access to services and international comparisons of service systems.


Congestive Heart Failure (CHF),” Healthline Media.

When Short-Term Care Is Needed,” Seniorly.

Hospital Discharge Planning for Elders,” Seniorly.

What is Assisted Living?” Seniorly.

What is Respite Care?” Seniorly.

A version of this article, Recovery Care for Congestive Heart Failure written by Amanda Woodward appeared in Seniorly’s Senior Living Resource Center.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Can Fasts and Fad Diets Be Good for You?

Can Fasts and Fad Diets Be Good for You?

Lose weight! Try this pill! Eat this single food! Are timeworn diet gimmicks now actually safe to use?

Many might remember the dieting fads of the 1950s and later, as women attempted to cinch in ever-thinner waistlines. Of course, dieting isn’t always about weight loss. It can also be about chronic disease management to help people fight obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.

Even today, there is always something new to learn about health and diet. Sometimes, diets and fasting seem to work—scientists even plan to use fasting to fight cancer. Here’s your update on what works, and what doesn’t.

Five Fad Diets To Steer Clear Of says some diets are not just impractical, they are downright dangerous. Here’s a look at a few that nutritionists deem completely unsafe:

  • The blood-type diet:
    There is absolutely no scientific proof that your blood type affects your body’s ability to process fat and calories. Because of this diet’s extreme restrictions, experts give it a thumbs down.

  • The werewolf diet:
    Sometimes known as the lunar diet, this involves a day of fasting with only water and juice during a full or new moon. You might lose water weight for a short time, but you could also cause serious issues with any medications you might be taking.

  • The master cleanse / lemonade diet:
    This plan expects you to subsist for days on lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. In other words, you’re just drinking a diuretic for days. You’ll lose water weight, sure. You’ll also lose muscle weight. Then you’ll gain it all back when you start eating normally again. Plus, side effects can be particularly devastating for those on blood pressure or diabetic medications: fatigue, nausea, dizziness and dehydration are just a few.

  • The baby food diet:
    Really? You’re not a baby; you need way more calories than that!

  • The cotton ball diet:
    This diet consists of soaking cotton balls in orange juice—and then eating them. Not only are there nearly zero nutrients with this diet, but the potential intestinal blockages are mind-boggling. No. Just . . . no.

Famous Fad Diets

In the 1950s, the grapefruit diet had everyone rushing to the fruit section of the grocery store because it seemed to work so well for stars like Marilyn Monroe. Eating half a grapefruit three times a day pre-meals with no change to the actual meal was a pretty simple thing to do, after all.

Research over the past 70 years has confirmed the good news about a diet along these lines: Eating soups, salads and fruit prior to a meal does help a person eat less during the final course and lower overall calorie intake. The bad news? After a while, grapefruit gets monotonous, it doesn’t contain any “fat-busting enzymes” as some believe, and the overall diet calls for an extreme limit on calories.

Switch it up with other fruits or healthy items while eating portion-controlled, balanced meals, say experts, and the infamous “grapefruit diet” could be a great way to control your weight. The trick to turn this fad diet into a healthy way of life is to include more balanced foods you enjoy, add in exercise and sneak in a few more healthy habits (like ensuring you have enough calories for your body). Otherwise, sheer boredom will cause you to toss grapefruits in the trash and go searching for the chocolate in the back of the pantry.

In the 1970s, diet fads narrowed the focus from balanced meals to low calorie meals. Researchers discovered that while the concept of eating fewer calories than your body required did indeed drop pounds, the body still requires the right combination of calories and nutrients to keep muscles healthy. Plus, too few calories can wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. Later, the high-protein, low-carb diets proved similar: They can work, but when the body doesn’t have the right nutrition blend, it can backfire into weight gain or, worse, serious health issues.

The worst news? Foods packaged and marketed as low calorie are often artificial and processed, and typically high in unhealthy preservatives and flavorings. Fad diets go on and on (remember the chocolate diet or the cabbage soup diet?), but the key point is to consider science and what we now know about how the body works.

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

Today’s fad diets often add in another element: the “magic” powder. Eat a little bit of this food, a little of that food, lots of water and THIS powdered or premixed drink so you can lose weight. Again, you will lose weight for a while. Once you try to get back into real-world eating, however, the pounds will creep back on. Why? Because the diet never teaches you how to make healthy eating a way of life. nutritional experts say that before starting any weight-loss plan, you should take stock of your current health status. Meet with your doctor, for example, to check weight and manage any health issues you might have. Do you need more of a certain nutrient, for instance?

Keep a food diary to understand what you’re currently eating. Locate a support group that can help you get through those days when all you want is cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Next, set a goal to move more. You don’t need to start with a big workout plan at a senior center. If you currently only walk to the next-door neighbor’s house, walk a house farther today. And one house farther the next day. Take baby steps, at your own speed, when it comes to movement. Just move.

Once you’re moving a bit more, it’s finally time to upgrade your eating. Become aware of how much unhealthy food you eat and what you reach for as a comfort food. Replace “I should” with “I choose” or “I choose not to” when selecting foods to eat.

Those simple words put you in control and quickly strip away the guilt. Choose, for instance, to stock your pantry with healthy fare. Choose to add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt. Choose to bring healthy snacks when you go out. Choose to savor each bite you eat. Choose a rainbow of fruit and vegetables to help you get a good mix of nutrients. Or choose not to — it’s your decision.

The bottom line is that while fad diets — including fasting — can indeed show short-term improvements, the only sure way to long-term weight loss is to make healthy choices day in and day out.


Dieting Through the Decades: What We’ve Learned from Fads,”

Study finds fasting may help reduce negative side effects of chemotherapy,” July, 2011, National Institute on Aging.

Losing Weight Without Fad Diets,”

14 Fad Diets You Shouldn't Try,”

Fasting and less-toxic cancer drug could be alternative to chemotherapy,” Mar. 30, 2015, Robert Perkins, USCNews.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Starting Your Own Business After 55

Starting Your Own Business After 55

For many, starting a business later in life makes sense as long as you understand and manage the risks involved.

The concept of entrepreneurial spirit has long been reserved for 20- and 30-somethings. It’s believed that the younger generation has more of an appetite for risk. However, research now proves that’s not true. According to the Kauffman Index, people between the ages of 55 and 64 start small businesses at a higher rate than younger generations.

Today’s work climate may contribute to this change. As more millennials move into the workforce, older workers are being replaced by automation, shrinking bottom lines and workers willing to accept less pay for the same job. As a result, those being pushed out of the workforce are turning to business ownership as a means of security for the future.

Why and How Entrepreneurship Makes Sense

For some, the idea of owning a business just makes sense. You understand that being your own boss allows you to control your destiny. For others, being solely responsible for your future is a terrifying thought. The thing to remember, however, is that there is more to business ownership than just making money.

  • Pursuit of passion: Many older adults choose to open a new business to pursue their passion. After years, sometimes even decades, working for someone else, the idea that you can spend your days working on something that matters to you is exciting.

  • Personal value: The fact is, baby boomers and Gen Xers have spent years working in their chosen fields. During that time, they’ve gained a wealth of knowledge that, no matter how hard organizations try, cannot be captured. Starting a business can be a means of sharing knowledge and creating personal value that exceeds the feelings of worth working for an organization.

  • The American dream: Many older Americans want what their parents wanted—to leave their children and grandchildren with a better life. That can mean everything from a greener planet to a better bank account. Some realize they won’t achieve this desire working for someone else. Instead, starting a business based on passion can help build and change the world and the legacy they’ll leave.

“One piece of advice I would give to those looking at starting their own business would be to do MORE research into the field they are looking at then they ever thought necessary,” says Steve Garrett, RPh, CSA.

Garrett, who launched a CarePatrol franchise in the Pacific Northwest, used multiple programs available to older populations to help with financing his second career. In particular, he took advantage of his local SBA-SCORE program, which is made up of retired business executives who offer mentorship, classes and templates and programs that participants can use in developing business plans and other business-related issues.

Regardless of the reason you choose to start a business—passion, value, legacy or something entirely different—starting a business after the age of 55 can make a lot of sense from both a personal and a financial perspective.

Financially, there are many programs in place to help older entrepreneurs begin and grow a business. Programs like the Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) Encore Entrepreneur are designed to help those over 55 choose, start and build small businesses. And investors are more likely to invest in companies that people over the age of 55 started because you not only have the knowledge to run the business, but you also have the financial means.

Older business owners usually have more financial means for starting a business. They can use assets and savings accounts to fund a new venture. They also have retirement accounts, and various ways to tap into those accounts. For example, the Roll Over for Business Startups (ROBS) program allows entrepreneurs to roll their retirement account, 401(k) or IRA into a new business. In addition, some retirement accounts allow business owners to take early withdrawals or retirement account loans.

The caveat is that using retirement funds to bankroll a new business can be risky. Before cashing in your retirement account, investigate your chosen business to ensure it’s a good match for your personality and work ethic, and that you’re taking the appropriate level of risk. Some risk is required, but too much risk can leave you without an alternative for your future.

Businesses for Senior Entrepreneurs

Probably the easiest part of starting a business is deciding what type of business you want to start. If you don’t already have some ideas based on personal passions, then a quick study of what your area needs can generate dozens of ideas. Some of the top business picks for senior adults include:

  • Consulting: Consulting is a good way to share your expertise while maintaining the freedom to choose who you want to work with.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping functions: If numbers are your passion, accounting, bookkeeping and tax-related businesses are easy to start and have a relatively low overhead.

  • Life services: People always need help with something, whether it’s older adults who want assistance with transportation or household services, or middle-aged people who need advice about gardening, pets or childcare. Most life services businesses have inexpensive startup costs and low overheads, and you can build the business around the hours you are available.

  • Franchises: Franchises are popular business options because someone else has already done the work to put the business system in place. Your job is to invest in the franchise and then follow the system. Most franchises are stable and good investments, though you should do your research, because they can also be a lot of work.

Opening a new business is no longer just a young person’s game. Today’s senior adults have more knowledge and better financing options for entrepreneurial endeavors. Just be sure that you’re investing the appropriate level of risk to achieve your end goal.

*Disclaimer: The Society of Certified Senior Advisors does not provide financial advice and this article should not be construed as such. If you are seeking financial advice, please contact a financial professional.


5 Small Businesses to Start after 50,” May 2016, USA Today.

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Business Over 55,” June 2014, SCORE Association.

How Older Entrepreneurs Can Turn Age to Their Advantage,” Roger St. Pierre, May 2017, Entrepreneur.

Self-Employment in the US,” March 2016, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Roll Over for Business Startups (ROBS) – The Ultimate Guides,” Jeff White, April 2017,

What You Need to Know About Using Retirement Money for Business Funding,” Adam Bergman, July 2015, Forbes.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, June 5, 2017

Intergenerational Learning via The Grandfriend

Intergenerational Learning via The Grandfriend

Many cultures have long understood that a community’s oldest members can provide experience and wisdom to younger members. In the U.S., however, extended families with intergenerational support are declining. After many years of work, various programs are beginning to change this downward trend.

From school pen-pal programs that pair sixth graders with seniors to intergenerational facilities that let older adults and toddlers spend time together, the “grandfriend” concept is expanding worldwide. The Healthy Aging Partnership, a coalition of 40 not-for-profit organizations in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, says that interactions among young people and older adults are crucial to reducing depression, relieving boredom and improving health—for both generations.

The Intergenerational Learning Center at Providence Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle, for example, offers daycare for children 6 weeks to 5 years old. Four program areas offer children the opportunity to visit with nursing home residents, and the Intergenerational Family Room provides a shared space for residents and children to participate in special activities and form relationships. In Washington, D.C., the DC Office on Aging and the DC Public Schools Office of Early Childhood Education have a joint partnership designed to bring together senior citizens and early childhood students.

If you’re interested in connecting with children in your area, there are many different ways to do it. You can become involved with an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; contact your local school district, grandparent networks, or nursing homes to determine which programs exist in your area; or even take the Gen2Gen Summer Challenge to help nurture a young person.

Experience matters. Grandfriends can make a difference—and you can become one today.


'Grandfriend' pen-pal program joins Colman-Egan 6th graders with area seniors,” KSFY staff,, May 5, 2017.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams

How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams

The internet offers great bargains and fast delivery. Know what to watch for so you can shop safely and securely.

Grabbing great deals on the internet is almost as fun as finding a bargain in person at a local store. Plus, the convenience of online shopping can’t be beat: Shop, order and pay from the comfort of your home, sit back and wait for delivery. What’s not to like?

Sneaky Shopping Scams

Other online shopping scams include:

  • Fake ads on classified-ad websites such as Always insist on meeting in person to inspect the item before you pay in cash.

  • Surveys that promise a payoff of any kind (a free product, for example) once completed.

  • Retailers that do not allow payment through secure services such as credit card transactions or PayPal. If one insists on a wire payment, your bank account information, a prepaid money card or a money order, don’t finalize the purchase.

  • Websites that don’t offer information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution, refund policies, or contact details.

  • Sites with poor-quality images or that have another company’s logo or watermark.

Statistics show that more people than ever are shopping online. The share of U.S. consumers who shopped online on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) in 2016 increased to 73 percent, while a solid 40 percent of consumers now shop several times per month online. At the same time, a Forbes Magazine survey of 125 retailers showed online fraud attempts were expected to rise more than 40 percent.

Bob Schulties is a content manager for, a technology advice site. He loves to shop online just like anyone else. He’s learned a few secrets, however, that he wants Senior Spirit readers to know.

“One of the things to keep in mind when you shop anywhere is that people have been scamming other people since the dawn of time,” Schulties says. “The Romans coined a phrase: ‘Caveat emptor’ means ‘buyer beware’—and that’s what every shopper should remember when purchasing items online.”

Schulties says online shopping scams are always changing, but the basics remain the same.

“If you see a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is,” he says. “Think of the $75 off fake coupon supposedly from Bed, Bath and Beyond that recently went around the internet. And one of the most common scams I warn readers about are penny auction sites where you buy credits in order to purchase an item for a few dollars. You will spend more in purchasing credits than any product is ever worth!”

He adds that fake shopping sites will mimic legitimate retailers by stealing logos, advertising the same products at lower prices or using pop-up ads for “terrific deals.”

Bed Bath and Beyond Fake $75 Coupon

Seven Online Shopping Safety Tips

Schulties and other experts advise online shoppers to remember these tips:

  • Use a site you or a friend are familiar with and have used before with success.

  • Ensure you are truly on that site by checking the URL at the top of your web browser. It should not be missing letters ( or have extra letters or numbers tacked onto it (

  • Confirm the site is secure by checking for the lock to the right of the URL or an ‘s’ after the http. A secure site will have at least one and usually both. For example, the official Amazon link will look like this: Https:// secure website

  • Never follow a link to a site. If you receive an email from Kohl’s, for instance, don’t just click the link to get to the deal. Go to the retailer using the URL you already know. The deal will still be available. If you follow a link in an email, you could be setting yourself up to provide credit card information, passwords and your personal information to a fake site.

  • Use a credit card for purchases. You can use a debit card, of course, but that instantly withdraws cash from your account. Credit cards have a stronger layer of protection that keeps your cash in hand as you work out any problems with a retailer, whether it’s fraud or not.

  • Never give a site your Social Security number. If a site wants that information, just leave it. There is never a reason, say experts, for a site to require your Social Security number to make a purchase.

  • Always change your passwords. Even if you change it up slightly, use a different password for every site you shop. It’s a pain, but it’s a far bigger pain to have your information stolen from one legitimate site and then used on multiple sites to make purchases before you even know anything is happening.

Schulties recommends password manager program 1Password to keep your passwords organized. This program is simple to use, remembers all passwords for you and keeps each site’s password secure.

“These guys are the real deal and have been around a long time—I use them,” he says. “When you sign up through them, it will remember all your passwords from all your sites. You simply sign in using a single, master password with them; 1Password remembers the rest of your passwords for the sites you visit.”

Above all, he says, just stay vigilant. “Most sites are great—if you keep your eyes open, you’ll be just fine.”


Statistics and Facts about Online Shopping Behavior in the United States,” Feb. 2017, Statista.

Shopping Online,” Sept. 2011, Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information, Shopping Online.

Top 10 Scams - 2017,” Feb. 14, 2017, Better Business Bureau.

Online Safety,” May 10, 2017,, Online Safety.

Why Online Shopping Fraud is Expected to Jump 43% This Holiday Season And How To Protect Yourself,” Laura Shin, Nov. 23, 2016, Forbes Magazine.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, June 2, 2017

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

June 7—Liam Neeson

June 7—Liam Neeson

Irish actor Liam John Neeson, who began acting on stage at the tender age of 11, made his professional acting debut with the Belfast Lyric Players’ Theater in the play The Risen People. That led to a variety of roles in with Dublin’s Abbey Theater and, eventually, to Hollywood. In the early 1980s, he and actress Helen Mirren lived together. She convinced him to find an agent, which helped him garner meatier roles in the States.

A nomination for Best Actor from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1991 for Darkman, along with a 1992 win for Best Actor in the movie Under Suspicion from Cognac Festival du Film Policier cemented his reputation as a leading man. He was selected to play Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List (1993), a role that finally catapulted him to A-List stardom with his first nominations in best actor categories with the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (the Oscars), the Golden Globe Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Although he never has won any of those awards, he has won 19 other awards and been nominated for a total of 38 acting awards.

Neeson, who became an action star in his fifties with movies like Taken, currently commands $20 million per film. He says that Ralph Fiennes is one of his closest friends. “He’s very into yoga and I do bits of that with him. We hike and walk and talk a lot.”

June 18—Miriam Flynn

June 18—Miriam Flynn

Voice actress Miriam Flynn, born in Cleveland, Ohio, is also a beloved character actress. Perhaps best-known for her roles in two well-loved franchises (National Lampoon’s Vacation flicks, in which she played Cousin Catherine, and The Land Before Time movies, in which she stars as Grandma Longneck), Flynn was initially a member of The Second City improv troupe alongside James Belushi, Shelley Long, and George Wendt.

She was a cast member in and writer for The Tim Conway Show, which aired for a single season in the early 1980s. In 1995, she voiced the character of Maa, an aging ewe, in the surprise smash movie Babe, the story of a pig who learns to herd sheep. Flynn has also guested on numerous television series (Cheers, L.A. Law, Scandal, and The Middle, to name just a few.) Overall, she has 143 film, writing and television credits to her name.

Married and the mother of two children, Flynn lives a private, quiet life in Pacific Palisades, California.

June 20—John Goodman

June 20—John Goodman

St. Louis native John Goodman started out adult life as a professional bouncer and earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Southwest Missouri State University in 1975. He studied there with actors Kathleen Turner and Tess Harper. He started down the fast lane to stardom in New York City with an appearance in a Burger King commercial (he spoke no lines.) During his struggling-actor days in NYC, he befriended Bruce Willis, Dennis Quaid, and Kevin Kline while working off-Broadway. He also worked as a waiter and bartender to pay the bills on his apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.

Some says Goodman is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne, which aired from 1988 until 1997 and earned him a Best Actor Golden Globe award. But for the past 20 years, Goodman has built a movie career that few can rival. His appearances in Coen brothers movies, such as Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother, Where Are Thou? have earned him a cult following of sorts, plus led to work in more than 50 other films. He is known for voicing roles in more animated films than any other actor in history.

Saturday Night Live fans know him from 14 gigs hosting the show (one more than the show record previously held by comedian Steve Martin). Dart gaming fans recognize Goodman for his unique style of throwing darts: He holds the pointed tip with his thumb and index finger, then throws the dart with the opposite end pointing to the board so that the dart turns 180-degrees in mid-air. Watch movies like King Ralph to catch him displaying this distinctive style.

Source: Wikipedia

FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Caregiver Burnout: Do You (or a Friend) Suffer From It?

Caregiver Burnout

As much as it is rewarding, providing care to an aging or disabled loved one can be a demanding and thankless job. We’ve rounded up some tips to help you reduce some of the stress.

It’s no secret that many adults care for other adults these days. In fact, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, approximately 30 percent of U.S. households involve a relative, partner, friend or neighbor who provides a broad range of assistance for an older person or another adult with a chronic or disabling condition.

When you love someone, you want the best for them. Providing care—whether long-distance, in-home or through a nursing home or assisted living facility—often seems like the natural thing to do. At some point, however, negative emotions and stress will come into play, no matter how much love is involved. The demands on a caregiver's body, mind and emotions can easily seem overwhelming, leading to fatigue and hopelessness and, ultimately, burnout.

It’s important to identify and address the often hard-to-admit feelings that you might experience during the caregiving process.

Beyond Stress: Caregivers Continue to Work Past Breaking Points

Bonnie Wells, 70, of Las Vegas, Nev., cared for both her mother and father during the last decade of their lives. Her mother, who died at 89 years old, was non-ambulatory. Her father, who died three years after her mother at the age of 95, was ambulatory and driving until the last day of his life. The caregiving crept up on her in ways she didn’t even realize—she was taking her mother to thrift stores to give her dad a break for a few hours or changing sheets for her father when his arthritis grew too painful.

Where to Get Help

When you need help, ask. If you take care of yourself, you’ll have more energy and ability to do the great job you want to for your loved ones.

There are organizations like the Family Caregiver Alliance that offer state-by-state help for family caregivers, provide caregiver tips and legal information, and supply various other tools. Local senior centers often have valuable resources and even staff that can help caregivers manage others’ needs. Also, a quick Google search for “area agencies on aging” can reveal additional options.

If you’re unsure how caregiver stress is impacting you right now, take this Family Caregiver Distress Assessment. You might be surprised at your results. But above all, know that there are millions of caregivers just like you. Don’t feel guilty when you need a break—and keep searching until you find a way to get one.

Wells was the only child out of eight who lived in the same town with her parents, so siblings expected her to ensure both parents were cared for. A sister provided some long-distance care via frequent Skype conversations with both parents, and a brother would drive in twice a year to check on the car’s performance and manage household plumbing, electrical and exterior issues. But the day-to-day, face-to-face problems were Wells’ to deal with—even as her own long-term career came to a screeching halt with her employer’s bankruptcy.

“Stress is not even close to the word I would use to describe the experience,” she says. “Overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, frustrated, embarrassed, impatient—those fit better. I had days where I just couldn’t go to their house one more time, frankly. Then I would feel guilty about not checking on them for a day and the cycle of negative feelings would just start up all over again.”

Experts say Wells is not alone in her feelings. Meredith Collins, MS, PCHA, ALA, CDP, CSA, explains that caregivers often feel isolated and so stressed out that their immune systems can erode, which then increases the likelihood of disease, depression or hospitalization. Others in Wells’ shoes also belong to a growing group of individuals still caring for children while caring for aging parents, says Jerome M. Avner, CSA and Wealth Advisor.

“Adults in this sandwich generation annually spend approximately $10,000 and 1,350 hours on parents and children combined,” Avner says. Add the caregiver’s financial challenges, loss of personal time and personal health concerns into the mix, and it’s easy to see where the stress comes in.

Caregivers: Get the Basics in Place

Wells reminds other caregivers of something critical: “A lot of the decisions you’ll make as a caregiver will involve the temperament of the people involved. Remember, you are doing the best you can—even when you don’t feel you are, you’re doing what you can. Give yourself time to breathe, time to think and time to get away. It’s okay. Truly.”

Here are tips to help you manage the stress.

  • Get at least 10 minutes of physical activity. Make this a priority. Even that short amount of time makes a key difference to health.

  • Get enough sleep for your body.

  • Hydrate and eat a balanced diet. Don’t just pick from plates or eat on the run.

  • See a doctor regularly who can help monitor your stress levels and health conditions.

  • Accept support. Let the neighbor bring in the mail, hire a housekeeper and use sites like to help you find assistance with everything from on-site car repairs to putting up shelves.

  • Schedule time away. Yoga, walks, coffee with a friend or even time alone can be a huge boost for you.

  • Find a support group. Whether online or in-person, talking to others in similar shoes can help reduce your stress and remind you that you’re giving great care.

Friends of Caregivers: What You Can Do

  • Be a shoulder to lean on. Many caregivers have no one to talk to about their frustrations and feelings; your open ear could make all the difference for someone who just needs to vent.

  • Offer to help. Take a friend’s mother to the salon for a nail appointment. Bring a friend’s father to a store so he can shop while you do. Ask the caregiver for ideas, and tell them which day each week or month you can assist for a few hours.

  • Step in to care for pets. A caregiver with pets can often feel guilt and worry that they are neglecting their own animals while they spend time away from home. Take a day of dog walking off their hands or offer to take the pet to a grooming or vet appointment.

  • Regularly cook for one more. Take the extra food to the person who needs care. (Ask the caregiver for any dietary instructions.)

  • Volunteer to be a “check in point” for the caregiver. Check on shut-ins, for example, and let your caregiving friend have a break one afternoon a week.


Caregiving for the Caregiver,” Meredith Collins, Mar. 29, 2017, NorthShore Blog.

“The Sandwich Generation,” Jerome M. Avner, Oct. 2016 – Mar. 2017, SeniorsBluebook.

Caregivers Need Care Too: Tips on Managing Caregiver Stress,” Apr. 11, 2010,

What is Caregiver Burnout,” WebMD staff,

What is Caregiver Burnout,” Staff writer, American Heart Association.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, May 29, 2017

How Seniors Can Cut Costs by Exploring Solar Energy

How Seniors Can Cut Costs by Exploring Solar Energy

Living on fixed incomes, American seniors are one of the most at-risk segments of homeowners regarding foreclosures. This group of retirement-aged homeowners is increasingly energy savvy. They are choosing to make investments in their homes now, to save on energy costs, avoid rate hikes, and take advantage of government incentives. Many of them are choosing to become solar seniors.

The largest percentage of the United States population is aged 65, and over, of that group, 64 percent have a positive view of solar energy. This according to a report by Pike Research. They also found that 58 percent of Americans aged 55-69 are interested in installing solar panels out of concern for the environment as well as to decrease their energy costs.

This growing number of solar seniors will likely have a broad and profound effect on the transition in the U.S., to more clean, renewable energy. As far as energy savings, one can expect to save between 20 and 40 percent in annual energy costs with solar panels installation. Of course, this doesn’t consider the costs involved in remodeling.

However, financial returns aren’t the only incentive for going solar. When a senior installs solar, they are also improving the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing their use of non-sustainable energy sources.

Ways Seniors Can Transform Their Homes for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Solar Panels

The most common image that comes to mind when one thinks of solar energy for the home is solar panels. Solar panels are formed by solar cells. These cells work by converting sunlight directly into electricity.

This is not unlike the cells that are used to power calculators or watches. Made of semiconductor materials like those used in a computer chip, they collect sunlight. When sunlight is absorbed, the solar energy displaces electrons from their atoms. This allows the electrons to travel through the cells, producing electricity. The process of converting photons or sunlight to electricity is called photovoltaic (PV) effect.

Solar cells are typically combined into panels that hold around 40 cells. These panels are then mounted in groups called PV arrays. These flat-plate panels can be mounted at a fixed angle, or they can be mounted on tracking devices that follow the sun. This allows the panels to capture sunlight over the full course of the day. Several PV arrays can provide enough power for an average household.

Solar Water Heaters

The sun can be used to heat the water used in homes and swimming pools. Home water heating systems that use solar have two parts: a storage tank and a solar collector. The most common type of collector is a flat-plate. Like PV panels, it is mounted on the roof. It consists of a flat, rectangular box with a cover and is mounted to face the sun for most of the day.

A system of tubes run through the box and carry the water to an absorber plate. As heat builds up, the water passing through the tubes is heated. A larger, well-insulated tank holds the hot water until it is used. Swimming pool solar heating systems are similar. However, the pool's pump is used to propel the water through the collector, and the water then is stored in the pool.

Solar Security Lights and Other Outdoor Solar Lighting

Solar powered motion-sensing lights are ideal for seniors who are concerned with keeping their home secure from those who lurk in shadows especially when the power goes out. Solar power security lights are more and more common because they are more powerful than they were previously.

Solar Attic Fans

An attic fan is an important part of cooling a house in warmer weather. A solar powered attic fan can push the hot air out of the attic space using sun-generated electricity. It keeps the house cooler and lightens the load on the AC unit. One square foot vented space for each 300 square feet of attic space is a good rule of thumb. Keep in mind, a solar attic fan costs nothing to operate, while an electric fan can be costly during the summer.

Seniors Can Benefit from Government Sponsored Initiatives for Solar Energy

Many states have solar initiatives designed to help those who are on a fixed income or have a limited income incorporate solar upgrades at a decreased or deferred cost. The goals of these initiatives are to:

  • Decrease the electricity usage through solar installation.

  • Reduce energy costs without users experiencing an increase in monthly expenses.

  • Provide incentives, both full and partial, for low-income participants to implement solar systems.

  • To make available, the power and efficiency of solar, to all homeowners regardless of their means or income.

  • To decrease expenses of solar ownership with a higher incentive than is offered by traditional means.

  • Develop more sustainable energy solutions which are environmentally and economically friendly.

To qualify for subsidies provided by the various states seniors should live in the home they are upgrading. They should also have a documented income lower than 80 percent of the state’s median income.

They would also need to be getting their home’s energy from mostly non-sustainable sources, including through the local electricity or gas company. To find a solar initiative in their state, seniors should check with the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to learn about the various incentive programs available for them.

Even without state incentives, there are cost savings from decreased utility electricity payments as well as financing, and deferred cost options, that prompt more and more senior homeowners to consider converting to solar power.

Author -  Jess Walter

- By Jess Walter, Freelance Writer.


Solar Seniors Help Realize California, U.S. Renewable Energy Goals,” TriplePundit.

How Solar Can Save You $$$ in Retirement” PowerScout.

Why go solar? Homeowners say: 'To save money',” CNBC.

Photovoltaic (Solar Electric),” Solar Energy Industries Association.


Solar Swimming Pool Heaters” Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Beyond Bulky Panels: Attractive Options in Solar Power” HGTV.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency” DSIRE.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Voices in Aging (VIA) Sessions

The inaugural 2017 VIA Sessions will focus on the Business of Aging.

VIA or Voices In Aging Sessions bring together a community of multidisciplinary professionals in an interactive and experiential learning environment to inspire new ways of understanding later life. VIA Sessions explore current and future trends within the field of aging, incorporating the intricate relationships between the health, financial, spiritual and social structures that influence our lifespan.

Unparalleled societal aging and longevity demand creative and innovative responses from businesses positioning themselves to thrive in this marketplace. Businesses serving older adults need an understanding of the older consumer and the adaptations in product functions, service design, marketing and ethical considerations that are necessary for success.

The Business of Aging VIA Sessions will provide opportunities for attendees to interact with subject matter experts, coaches and other participants to explore and analyze their own businesses through the lens of our changing age demographic. Participants will be encouraged to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies needed for decision making, problem solving and imagination that are most valued in today’s successful aging enterprises. Attendees will review their own businesses, identify areas for improvement, develop specific objectives and incorporate new opportunities.

When: November 3-5, 2017

Where: The Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence St, Denver, CO


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Benefits of Senior Living Following A Stroke

Benefits of Senior Living Following A Stroke

Nearly 600,000 people over 65 have strokes every year in the United States, and about 25% have recurrent attacks. A stroke can turn your life upside down, and affect friends and family as well. Most hospital stays after a stroke last just four days, and patients often return home. Nearly half in fact are discharged home directly after their hospitalization.

While going back home is usually the goal, it can cause problems. For instance, with such a short amount of time in the hospital, there is little opportunity to get the information you need to know for your recovery. You are generally not in a position to absorb information anyway and don’t yet understand just what help you’ll need when you return home.

In an ongoing study on care transitions post stroke, patients and caregivers discussed in focus groups the many unexpected challenges they faced when they got home. It was clear that in the hospital they just didn’t know what they didn’t know.

The transition home is particularly challenging because patients and caregivers are not aware of or don’t have access to community and medical resources. As a result, about 20% of stroke patients who are discharged and sent home end up back in the hospital or in a rehab facility within 30 days. And up to half of all informal caregivers of stroke patients have health problems themselves as a result of the stress of providing care.

Going to a senior community that can provide rehabilitation services for a period of time after hospitalization is one option that might help ease the transition home. About a quarter of stroke patients are discharged to a rehabilitation facility first. While most people think they need to transition to a Skilled Nursing Facility, in fact many can simply stay in a more comfortable assisted living community.

What Can Going to a Senior Living Community Do for Me?

It can keep you safe. Strokes affect everyone differently, but common problems include weakness, paralysis and speech problems, problems with balance or coordination, pain or numbness, problems with memory or thinking, and tiredness. Going to a senior community gives you time to address these issues so that you will be less likely to fall or have other problems when you return home. It also gives you time to make modifications to your home that may be needed for your safety.

It can give you time. About one out of four of the 800,000 strokes in the U.S. are experienced by someone who has had a stroke before. Second strokes can be prevented with medical interventions and changes in lifestyle. Going to a senior community for rehabilitation gives you and your family time to learn how to prevent a second stroke, manage post-stroke disabilities and medications, and set up the services for when you get home.

Research has consistently found that earlier and more aggressive therapy is better for long-term stroke recovery. That means starting therapy earlier and moving to more difficult activities as quickly as possible. This can often be accomplished more easily in a rehabilitation program at an elder care community than at home. On-staff caregivers provide all the care that stroke sufferers need to be supported as they rehabilitate, while providing families peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are taken care of.

For more information about stroke recovery visit the National Stroke Association and the American Stroke Association websites.

Author -  Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD

- By Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD

Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University. She does research on services and supports for older adults including racial and ethnic disparities in access to services and international comparisons of service systems.


Stroke Statistics,” The Internet Stroke Center.

Improving Care Transitions for Acute Stroke Patients Through a Patient-Centered Home-Based Case Management Program,” Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Transitional Care for Rehabilitation,” Seniorly.

What is Assisted Living?” Seniorly.

A version of this article, Elder Care Following A Stroke written by Amanda Woodward appeared in Seniorly’s Senior Living Resource Center.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Look at America's Aging Future

America's Aging Future

Over the next few decades Baby Boomers will transform aging in the United States, presenting both opportunities and adversities.

In 2017, the United States senior population, 65 and over, quickly rolled past the highest number ever, a historic milestone of 50 million. Looking at the aging in America digital counter, a linear interpolation of the 2015 U. S. Census population estimates, the count will not let up soon. Even earlier estimates by the Census Bureau dating back to 2005 show us crossing the 50 million threshold at the beginning of 2017. Regardless, the gray tsunami has arrived.

It's the baby boomer segment, along with the longer life expectancy, that creates the surge, and it affects each state in the nation for the next several decades. This increase will result in more Medicare beneficiaries and higher Medicare spending, while fewer citizens pay into the system. The significant shift will cause challenges that we must address.

The Data

  • 75 million babies were born between 1946-1964.

  • If all the seniors in the U.S. held hands; they'd wrap the world twice.

  • 36,924,413 baby boomers will turn 65 over the next decade.

  • The number of U.S seniors will climb from just over 50 million in 2017, to 83 million by 2050.

Expected Senior Population Growth in Cities

  • Austin, TX - ↑ 8%

  • Seattle, WA - ↑ 8%

  • Charlotte, NC - ↑ 7%

  • San Jose, CA - ↑ 7%

  • Houston, TX - ↑ 5%

What the Experts Predict

The sheer number of aging baby boomers will transform our economy and our services. To get a better understanding, I asked the Aging Council at, "What industries will be affected most by the large segment, and explain how?"

"The wellness industry has a need for gyms specifically designed for boomer and seniors. And the food industry faces a big issue, food insecurity. Getting seniors to eat correctly will be both a challenge and an opportunity."

-Anthony Cirillo, CEO,

"Health care, home care, attendant care, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, incontinence products. Finding qualified people to provide direct service to aging seniors is going to be a problem due to low wages and poor working conditions. It is also hugely expensive to get the care one might need, which could compromise the savings that seniors have squirreled away."

-Donna Schempp, Eldercare Advocate

"Most people know the critical impact that the population will have on healthcare and the housing industry. We do not have enough affordable and accessible homes in the major cities, and developers and builders are not paying attention to the trends."

-Nikki Buckelew, Founder, and CEO, Senior Real Estate Institute

"The industries affected most include skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation, memory care, etc., the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical device industry, especially assistive medical devices."

-Betsie Sassen, Advisor, Capitol Consulting, LLC

"The suburban model of single-family homes is too much for older adults to maintain. Living in suburbia will put a great strain on them and their independence. Co-housing options is a better choice for those in need of care."

-Margo Rose, President,

"Older adults apply massive demand across all services - from mental health, practitioners and providers, drugs, therapy, etc. Consumer Packaging: Smaller, lighter and easy to open/hold containers will be important design features. And of course, transportation – better public/private transport options are needed."

-Michelle Jeong, Vice President Marketing,

"Demand for LTSS (long-term care support and services) will increase, with attendant trickle-down effects (e.g., the rise of "silver industries" like geriatric care managers, senior relocation specialists, senior concierge services, and certified aging-in-place specialists). Baby boomers demand high-quality residential care, with an emphasis on privacy, personalization, luxury and access to integrated recreation and mental health."

-Stephen D. Foreman, (CLTC), Senior Vice President, Long-Term Care Associates, Inc.

"Technology - while many seniors have embraced it, others have not. Technology needs to adapt to those who aren't that adept and who have vision and hearing loss."

-Kaye Swain, President,

"The caregiving industry will experience significant growth as more people choose to age in their homes. It includes in-home medical care professionals & non-medical caregivers that provide aid in daily tasks. Tech companies that help seniors stay independent will grow, as more seniors & family caregivers adopt tech to give peace of mind and confidence to the senior."

-David Inns, CEO, GreatCall, Inc.

"The insurance industry will change, specifically health, life and long-term care. Insurance companies must do a better job of addressing health issues and promoting healthy living. Insurance actuaries need to do a better job calculating for longer life spans and more chronic conditions."

-Admond Fong, Co-Founder,

"The obvious answer: Hospitals, rehabs, and doctors are overwhelmed. The senior housing industry will be challenged to add services. Home care agencies will need to find other services to deliver at an affordable cost over the traditional minimum hourly contracts."

-Caryn Isaacs, Patient Advocate,

"Financial advisors will see a significant number of clients selling off their stocks and bonds to pay for retirement. Apparently, the medical profession will see a shift in elder care needs. The travel industry needs an overhaul."

-Ben Mandelbaum, COO,

"Government: Social Security remains unsustainable due to sheer numbers. We’ve long outgrown it. Healthcare: We are unprepared, and yet we continue to treat and suspend entire industries on the focus of youth and longevity. We lost quality to quantity. Marketing has fed and shaped our culture, and sadly they may prevail. Housing: again we are behind the eight ball in planning and access."

-Nancy Ruffner, CEO,

"In particular, aviation. There will be a global shortage of pilots over the next 20 years. In 2009, the FAA raised the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots from 60 to 65 to help with the decrease. Low starting salaries and rising costs of licensing has contributed to the shortage. Airline profits skyrockets."

-Scot Cheben, Co-Founder,

"Aging services will be most affected by the growing number of seniors. Demand for medical care for complex cases involving multiple chronic health conditions will grow exponentially. Long-term care needs will also rise dramatically. Healthcare providers need to increase staffing and training in geriatrics. Medicare and insurance companies have to figure out how to pay for this care."

-Connie Chow, Founder,

Author -  Carol Marak

- By Carol Marak

Carol Marak, aging advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology. Carol ages alone and shares her experiences with followers via Next Avenue, Huffington Post, and over 40 newspapers nationwide.


An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States,” U.S. Census Bureau.

Aging America: The U.S. Cities Going Gray The Fastest,” Forbes.

The Growth of the U.S. Aging Population”

Monday, May 15, 2017

How to Design and Create a Senior-Friendly Bedroom

How to Design and Create a Senior-Friendly Bedroom

Not all homes and bedrooms are ideal for senior citizen use. This is because a lot of the simple activities that we take for granted in childhood and adulthood can become increasingly difficult with old age. Whether it’s because of a disease, a chronic injury, or the ravages of time, even moving around the room can pose a challenge for some senior citizens. If you want to create a fully safe and comfortable room in your home for either grandma or grandpa, there are some important factors that you need to consider first.

Pick a Room on the Ground Floor for Easier Access

Make it easier on your senior by selecting a room on the ground floor. The less stairs and rises that they have to worry about, the better. In fact, any stairs or level changes between the front door and the senior bedroom should be eliminated using ramps, especially if they need a wheelchair to move around. If not, you can just install handrails/grab bars for added safety while crossing steps or level changes.

If there’s no room on the first floor for a senior bedroom, you can place it on the higher floors of your home, provided you also install a stairlift or a chairlift so they won’t have to use the stairs. Providing your senior with easy access to their bedroom is not just for comfort, it’s also safer as it greatly lessens the chances of injury at home.

Minimize Bedroom Clutter to Prevent Accidents

There should be nothing in the bedroom that can potentially fall and cause accidents. The floors of the room should be clear, and the bedroom essentials (mattress, dresser, medicine cabinet, etc.) should be easily accessible without having to hop over some clutter. The cleaner and simpler the bedroom, the safer it is.

Make Sure the Bed is Clean and Firm

Whether you’re planning to furnish the room with a brand new mattress or an old one at home, hygiene comes first. The last thing you want is to let grandma/grandpa sleep on a moldy or dust mite infested mattress, possibly exacerbating any existing medical conditions. Before you set it on the stable bed frame you’ve picked for the room, make sure that your mattress is 100% clean. Before putting on fresh sheets, wrap the bed in a waterproof mattress protector for best results.

Another important concern is the firmness of the mattress. Apart from your senior’s personal preferences, you should also consult their attending physician as to what kind of bed is most ideal for their patient. Those with chronic back problems are usually advised to get a firm mattress that offers full back and body support. Don’t let your senior sleep on an old, busted spring mattress that’s more suited for the landfill or home DIY projects.

Include an Exercise Option In the Bedroom

If the bedroom is big enough for more than a bed and a dresser, then it might be big enough to include an area for exercise. Depending on how fit the senior is, there are a bunch of exercising options that you can make available right in the comfort of their bedroom. From elliptical trainers to resistance-training bands, any low-impact exercise can increase the senior’s health and mobility with minimal risk of injury.

Ensure Adequate Lighting and Temperature Control

Install more lighting options inside the bedroom to make up for your senior’s poorer eyesight. Even if their eyes are perfectly fine, better lighting will allow them to better see obstacles or find stuff that they’ve dropped on the floor. Also, depending on your location, make sure that there’s a working air-conditioner, electric fan, or heater in the room. If uncomfortable temperatures make it hard for us kids and adults to sleep, imagine how much harder it is for senior citizens.

Choose a Bedroom Close to the Bathroom

What’s even more ideal is for your senior to have their own bathroom attached to the bedroom. Again, the less they have to move around, the less chances of any injury occurring at home. The nearest bathroom, like the bedroom, should also be cleared of any unnecessary clutter as well as any objects that might fall and cause accidents.

Grab bars should be installed near the toilet for easier maneuvering, and if your budget allows, consider installing an elevated toilet. Cover the floor with generous patches of anti-slip pads. Place additional lighting in the bathroom. Even the simplest changes can make any bedroom/bathroom much safer for senior citizens.

Author -  Peter Mutuc

- By Peter Mutuc

Peter Mutuc is obsessed with natural, non-pharmaceutical solutions to insomnia and awry sleeping patterns, which comes in handy at his job as the web content writer for a small, Aussie startup mattress company called Onebed.


Making Your Home Senior Friendly,” National Aging In Place Council.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Smart Home Technology for Seniors

Smart Home Technology for Seniors

New systems can save you money and make your place more secure and safe.

As technology enters every part of our lives, there’s one area that is now getting a lot of attention: our homes. With automatic lighting, video cameras and thermostats, among other smart systems, we can make our homes safer, more secure and more cost effective. We can use technology to do our bidding. From the comfort of your couch, you can turn on and off the television and lamps, raise or lower the blinds, and instruct the thermostat to cool down or heat up your home.

Recently the Hartford and the MIT AgeLab identified the top 10 home technologies for homeowners age 50 and older. Technology can make life easier for anyone, but a safer environment that can save money can especially benefit older adults.

1. Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The latest instruments do more than monitor your home for smoke and carbon monoxide. They can detect just about anything in the air: carbon dioxide and monoxide, temperature, humidity, dust, soot, pollen, air staleness, pollution and other particulates.

When you’re home, smart detectors alert you with an alarm or loud recorded voice, and when you’re away, they communicate through your smartphone app. One detector system will contact assistance (including the fire department) if you’re not home.

2. Wireless Doorbell Cameras

In the past, to see who was knocking at your front door, you looked through a pinhole opening in the door (or peeked from the curtains at the front window). Now windowless doorbell cameras, more commonly known as video doorbells, use installed cameras to show you, whether you’re in the backyard, in bed or at work (using your smartphone), who’s at your door.

You can even communicate with the visitor, telling the delivery person, for example, to leave the package on the front porch. Some video systems have motion sensors that activate the camera. One system takes videos of your front door, so if a package goes missing, you can peruse the videos for information. Another system will alert more than one person, so your children, for instance, know what’s going on.

Video doorbells are especially good for those who live alone or homeowners who travel a lot.

3. Keyless Entry

Instead of using a key to unlock your home, you punch your personal code into the lock box. Not only does this eliminate the need for keys, which can be lost, it provides access for others, such as your children who may need to check on you, friends who volunteered to water your plants, or services (such as cleaning) that come when you’re not home. You can also use a temporary code and then change it when necessary.

4. Automatic Lighting

If you don’t like coming home to darkness, or if you want to turn on the lights while you’re away, you can now adjust your lights using your smartphone, a preset timer, a key fob, a remote control or an exterior motion detector. This technology is available for both outdoor and indoor lights, and you can use it when at home or away.

5. Smart Water Shut-Off Valves

When you’re traveling, you may have nightmares about arriving home to burst pipes and a flooded house. However, smart shut-off valves will automatically turn off your water if they detect a burst pipe. Plus, you will receive an alert, via your smartphone, wherever you are.

More expensive technology goes even further. One system automatically turns off the valve to the water main when certain weather conditions are forecast, such as freezing temperatures.

6. Smart Home Security Systems

There’s no need to get up in the middle of the night if you hear a strange noise in your backyard. Smart home security systems use motion sensors to detect if someone is near your doors or windows, and then transmit this information to you through your smartphone. You can even monitor your home when you’re away. More complex systems include surveillance cameras, lights and sirens, and allow you to turn on the lights when motion is detected, unlock your doors when a smoke alarm goes off, and start a video recording when a sensor is triggered. You can oversee the system yourself or hire a professional agency to do it.

7. Smart Outlets/Plugs

You can use these plugs on any outlet to remotely turn on and off any appliance. This convenience can save energy costs and improve security by letting you turn on lamps, for example, to make it look like someone is home. Some smart plugs even let you monitor your power consumption in real time.

8. Smart Thermostats

In addition to programming your thermostat for ideal comfort throughout the day, you can remotely control it. If you’re on your way home and want to warm up the house, you can increase the temperature using your smartphone.

The high-end smart thermostats even learn your habits and temperature preferences and can set up the ideal home environment without you having to lift a finger. Some let you know how much money you’re saving on energy costs by regulating the temperature.

9. Water and/or Mold Sensors

These sensors can detect water leaks and, in some cases, small changes in moisture levels that could indicate mold—whether from your refrigerator, toilet or washing machine. Place battery-operated sensors around the appliances you want to monitor. They will alert you via your web browser, smartphone app, text, email or phone call when leaks occur.

10. Smart Window Blinds

While raising and lowering window blinds is not a difficult chore, doing so remotely can save energy costs and add to your home’s security. Smart blinds can permit more or less sun—and warmth--depending on the weather. And closed blinds can deter possible burglars who might assume the house is occupied, even when it’s not.

With so much smart home technology available, you can choose to try out a few at a time or you can install a whole safe-home system that integrates all the pieces.


New Research By the Hartford and the MIT AgeLab Reveals Top 10 Smart Home Technologies For Mature Homeowners,” Nov. 29, 2016, Hartford Newsroom.

The Best Smart Home Security Systems of 2017,” Feb. 15, 2017, PC Mag.

8 Best Video Doorbells,” April 2017, Wiki.ez.vid.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What Happened to Mom?

Warning signs that your aging parents may need more help to stay home

Warning signs that your aging parents may need more help to stay home.
By Hannah Draeger Ross

Time and obligations have a way of interfering with the best laid plans of family members. Trips to visit an aging parent or relative become more and more infrequent. Many of our parents or grandparents have relocated to states that offer climates more conducive to shoveling sand versus snow. Or adult children have moved to distant states for better jobs or opportunities.

Many of us have limited our travel planning for various reasons, including the difficulty of taking time off from work. Our daily responsibilities often take precedent to seeing aging relatives, and another year’s plans to visit slip away.

Finally, a visit is possible, and the door to their home is opened by a very frail parent.

“What happened to Mom?” is a question I hear quite frequently these days.

“I knew my mother needed a little help around the house, and we did hire an agency to come once in a while to assist with the housekeeping. But I had no idea she had changed so much,” I recently heard a daughter lament.

How do I know about these instances? I operate a senior service designed to offer resources and assistance to families. Many of my clients live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their parents.

An elderly person may sound great on the phone while hiding health issues. Your loved ones don’t want you to worry about them. They might also be nervous that you will suggest they move into a retirement home. The majority of senior clients I work with want to remain in their own residences.

Or they may be unaware that they need help. Over time, older adults can gradually lose some of their functioning. Their hearing gets worse, they’re more tired, they can’t remember how to turn on the shower or the stove. Slowly, they withdraw from some of life’s daily chores.

When you visit an aging parent, use your senses to evaluate whether your mom or dad needs additional care.

Warning Signs Your Parents Need Help

Watch. Do they dress appropriately for the weather or the season? Does your dad have on a soiled shirt? Is his appearance disheveled? Is he well-groomed? Do his teeth appear clean? Does your mom continue to wear make-up? Is the car dented and dinged? Is the house clean and free of clutter? Is mail all over the counters and tables?

Listen. Can they carry on a general conversation and understand what you are saying? Are they speaking too loudly? Is the television blasting in the background? Do they call you by your name? Do they engage in phone conversations with telemarketers?

Smell. Does the home have an unpleasant odor? Is there outdated or spoiled food in the refrigerator? Is the garbage can overflowing? Is the heat or air-conditioning completely off? Do you smell a litter box or other pet odors?

Touch. Do they look healthy? Do they feel cold to the touch? Is their skin supple and normal in color? Are there any bruises or skin tears? Have they lost weight? Have they gained excessive weight? Has their eyesight failed?

Observe. Are there many medications and pills around? Are there different doctors’ names on pill cases? Has their personality changed? Do you see a big supply of liquor? Are bills marked “past due” or unopened? Is there an abundance of letters from charities or contests, indicating they have been too susceptible to every appeal that comes their way?

Be proactive. If you sense a problem, take action immediately. Discuss the issues you find with your loved ones. Set up doctor appointments and determine what services are needed.

How to Help

Once you have noticed concerning changes in a loved one that may be putting them at risk physically or financially, please think about respectful and practical solutions to help them. Many elder citizens want to live life in their own way and resist changing residence. They would prefer to bring the help they need into their homes rather than move.

Put yourself in their place. Would you want to leave your own home to stay with your kids? Or would you prefer to make renovations to your place to accommodate your changing health and safety issues? Do you enjoy your neighbors and your neighborhood? Is your garden your pride and joy? Do you have a beloved pet that would not be welcomed into assisted living?

Bringing care into the home extends the time your parent can stay in the comfort of their own residence with their memories and their precious belongings around them. Your parents deserve to live their lives to the fullest. Helping them stay in their own home can often provide a less expensive alternative to special-assistance housing. Sometimes, a caregiver simply needs to come by for a few hours a day.

Of course, these solutions for enhancing at-home care are intended to address the natural stages of aging, not dementia. If you suspect that your parent’s behavior points to the cognitive decline associated with dementia then trust your gut. Before you embark on improving their lifestyle at home, where they could be at risk, get your parent to an appropriate doctor for cognitive testing and diagnosis.

How to Change the Home

My senior clients have commented about how much life has improved for them because of the addition of a ramp or bath designed for handicapped use (please make sure proper training is included). Renovating a home for special needs can also prove a wonderful alternative to geriatric housing facilities. We “baby proof” homes for safety, but rarely “senior proof” them on the opposite end of life.

Installing “nanny cams” and proper security when a senior is at risk due to cognitive issues is a smart idea. I have one client who installed this sort of security for her father, along with a phone app, so she can routinely check to make sure he is OK.

It also makes sense to have someone assist with cleaning and cooking to help ensure your parents eat properly in a hygienic home. One of my clients found a retired nurse to move in with her parents. Lucky her! Caregivers can also drive your parents to the doctor, out to lunch or to visit an old friend. Many of my clients have stayed in their homes until the very end because they took advantage of care and services from family members, caregivers and hospice.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you are not able to be your loved one’s primary caregiver, take the proper precautions so that you have peace of mind. For example, make sure the caregiver and any other important people know to call you if needed. Clearly display a list of emergency contacts such as your parents’ or relatives’ financial planners, lawyers and doctors. List the medications they take and their pharmacy’s phone number. When you visit your loved one, get the name and number of one of their close friends or neighbors so that you can check with them if needed.

Finally, stop beating yourself up and schedule time for at least one phone call every week. Mom and Dad already know you have other responsibilities. In the meantime, let’s hear it for this wonderful, stubborn generation of “Golden Agers” who still watch Jeopardy, play cards with friends, sign up for dance lessons and believe that 90 is the new 80!

Author - Hannah Draeger Ross, CSA
- Hannah Draeger Ross, CSA

Hannah Draeger Ross, CSA, is the owner of Elderlinx Senior Services. She has been a geriatric homecare professional for over 15 years and resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Probate and Estate Planning Considerations for Seniors

Probate and Estate Planning Considerations for Seniors

Although estate planning may seem confusing and daunting, not having your affairs in proper order can create issues for the loved ones you leave behind and mean your wishes aren’t carried out as you desired. If you don’t have an estate plan, you need to create one as soon as possible. If you already have an estate plan, be sure your plan is up to date and accurate. This is especially true for seniors, who are older in age.

Probate and Estate Planning

Probate is the legal process for transferring your assets to your heirs and is based on your state’s laws. Some estate plans are sufficient on their own and don’t require probate; however, each state sets limits for estates that can be transferred without going through probate. For some states, the limit is only a few thousand dollars, but other states have limits up to $200,000.

Probate is also utilized as a public notice of death. Creditors can file claims against an estate to be paid, and the remaining assets of the estate go to the heirs. If a will doesn’t exist to name heirs, the state will decide how to distribute the assets.

Avoiding Probate

There are ways to avoid probate. Some people wish to avoid probate because of the cost of legal fees, which can cost thousands of dollars and are usually paid from the estate. It’s also a long process, lasting between six and 12 months. Those who appreciate privacy may also wish to avoid probate, as the proceedings are public.

However, you usually need a lawyer to avoid probate, which is sometimes more costly than the legal fees associated with probate. Trying to avoid estate taxes is another invalid reason for avoiding probate because the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual in 2017. A positive attribute of probate is that it’s a final decision for how your estate will be distributed, so it cannot be challenged in the future.

If you decide you’d like your heirs to skip probate, you can have your assets put in a revocable living trust for your heirs. According to Bankrate, “A trust is a legal document that authorizes a trustee, who can be the grantor (or the creator of the trust), to hold title to and manage assets.” A revocable living trust allows you to change or cancel the trust at any time, as long as you’re alive. Also, since a living trust doesn’t go through probate, it’s more private.

Bank accounts for individuals have FDIC protection against losses for up to $250,000 per account, which may not be enough for some people. However, a living trust increases the protection amount. Each beneficiary named in a living trust adds an additional $250,000 in protection, and that maxes out at five beneficiaries, bringing your total to $1,250,000. For six or more beneficiaries, the rules get a little more complicated.

Downfalls to a Living Trust

Note that a living trust has disadvantages. If you have a simple trust, the costs may not be too bad and can be less expensive than a professional executor. On the flipside, a complicated estate can push the cost up to $10,000, which is substantially more than probate. You could complete a living trust online; however, trusts can get tricky, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer. Also, unlike probate, there’s no time limit on a legal challenge to a living trust.

Lastly, if you forget to transfer the title of your property to a trust before passing, then the portion of your trust that gives away your home or car is worthless. A quitclaim deed is a common way to transfer property from one individual to another when no money is involved. As the name entails, a quitclaim deed releases any ownership claims an individual may have in a piece of property. “Families often use quitclaim deeds to transfer a property between family members, such as from parents to a child,” says

Be sure that you research and fully understand each part of estate planning, as well as living trusts and quitclaim deeds. Since each state’s laws can vary, know your specific state’s handling of estate planning, living trusts, and quitclaim deeds. Finally, you should speak to a qualified attorney for the most accurate and assured legal advice.

Author -  Julie Morris

- By Julie Morris

Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. Ms. Morris spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.


What Is a Quitclaim Deed?,”

California Quitclaim Deed Form,” DeedClaim LLC.

6 surprising facts about a living revocable trust” Bankrate.

Probate, Wills, Executors: Your Estate Planning Questions Answered,” Next Avenue.