Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Multidisciplinary Team Approach & The Educated Consumer

Multidisciplinary Team Approach & the Educated Consumer

Multidisciplinary care is an integrated team approach to healthcare. The evaluation of treatment options and treatment planning are collaborative processes involving medical and allied healthcare professionals in concertation with the patient and the patient's family.

Healthcare consistently uses this method. Using a multidisciplinary team approach when professionals are working with older adults and their families has significant advantages on the consumer side as well as the professional side.

The business environment is changing so rapidly that the average consumer cannot keep up. Many have no idea what is currently available in products and services that they may need or want.

Here is an example of a case study: The husband is 68 years old and retired. His wife is 60 and still working full-time and plans to continue for at least 5 years. He has Medicare and supplemental insurance. She has health insurance through her employer. They own their home outright. The main floor was all the space they really need and use in the home although there is an upstairs and downstairs. They own 2 cars that are in great condition. They have no debt. They have savings to last until he is 95 and she is 87 with budgeted monthly expenses of $5,000.

They want to age-in-place as long as possible and felt that it would be good to bring in a contractor to discuss what could be done and the costs involved. They expect to use some of their retirement money to do the renovation. They are worried about touching the money for the renovation in case there is a crisis, and they will not have enough in savings. You never know what life has in store. What if they live longer than expected? What if they eventually need help in the home? What if health care costs take their savings? They decide first to see what it will cost to do the necessary renovation.

In this case, the average consumer would call in a renovator/contractor. They might find them through a referral from a friend or relative. The consumer probably knows nothing about Universal Design, CAPS certification, or CSA certification and the renovator may not know either. The renovator might say, “Sure, I can install higher toilets and grab bars.” The couple would not know that this contractor does not have an understanding of Universal Design that would potentially allow them to age-in-place much longer.

Today, professionals would serve the consumer well by bringing together a multidisciplinary team to discuss the situation and offer possible solutions to the problem. The team would approach the situation holistically and offer solutions that the consumer might not realize are available.

Which professionals would provide valuable insight in this case study and could be the perfect multidisciplinary team to offer a couple of different approaches to this situation? The key is for the team to be great listeners, trusted, not overwhelming, and demonstrate how well they know their "stuff." But how do you become trusted? One way is being transparent about the credentials you hold and what that means to the consumer, your years of experience, examples of your work, provide a background check, transcript of continuing education, etc.

What could a team look like for this circumstance? Here is a possible team of Certified Senior Advisors (CSA) who work using a multidisciplinary approach:

  1. Designer with Universal Design credentials – understanding the best design for aging in place

  2. Renovator with CAPS certification – determine priorities, cost, time frame

  3. Reverse Mortgage Professional – using home equity instead of retirement savings

  4. Shared Housing Professional – add income when adding private apartment

  5. Expert in sharing and gig economy businesses – add income and reduce expenses. For example, sell the second car and use Uber/Lyft (reduce expenses) or keep car and rent it out (increase income)

  6. Aging Life Care Professional (geriatric care manager) specialize in assessments – assess current property for safety and age-in-place issues

  7. Financial Advisor – is it better to use savings? Is it better to take a reverse mortgage?

  8. Life Care Funding Professional – using life insurance in the future for in-home care paid directly to providers

  9. Senior Housing Placement - can talk about senior housing options available in the area

  10. Real Estate Professional & Appraiser - can give an estimate of the value of the property

These professionals review the situation individually and then they will discuss it as a group. The group will make a recommendation based on all of the input. There may be more than one solution that the couple can pick from.

The surprise to the consumer may be that there is no need to touch their retirement savings and in the end, they will increase monthly income and decrease monthly expenses. A multidisciplinary approach may be the future of consumerism where decisions are made with a clear understanding of the options available. As Sy Syms used to say, "An educated consumer is our best customer."

Author -  Judy Rough, CSA

- By Judy Rough, CSA

My passion and my life's work is to change the culture of our society by elevating the status of older adults to a national treasure. The more professionals are educated about the contemporary issues of aging the closer I will get to this goal.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How Virtual Reality Could Change Your Life

How Virtual Reality Could Change Your Life

Virtual reality is all the rage in gaming circles, but did you know that it can have some practical uses for your daily life as well?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated, 3D environment that you experience using specialized glasses or goggles. It’s long been the stuff of television fiction, and more recently has become a reality through mobile devices. Gamers are familiar with VR. They love the immersive experience within their favorite games.

However, VR isn’t just for gamers. The technology is advancing quickly. As it does, an unexpected benefit has been uncovered: VR can help older people – Baby Boomers and beyond – in their daily lives. Some of the capabilities are still a few years in the future, but there are also some that are here right now.

Augmenting Reality

It seems like something out of a Sci-fi movie. You sit down, place a special set of eyewear over your eyes, and suddenly you’re transported back in the past, forward into the future, or even present day, just in some other location around the globe. It’s not fiction. It’s virtual reality, and as scientists have worked with VR, they’ve discovered that there are many ways to use it.

For example, VR can be used to help patients who can’t remember to take their medications. A tiny, nearly invisible, sensor is compacted into the contents of a pill. It’s swallowed when the person takes their medications, and then after a specific time, the sensor triggers a reminder on a cell phone or other device that another dose of the medication is due.

It’s also possible to use virtual reality to create interactive experiences, such as those generated by Rendever. These are real tours and adventures that are created to be 3D, then played back through the special VR eyewear. These tours can allow people to visit museums, concerts, or landmarks, swim with whales, even scale rock walls – all without getting up from their chair. The benefit of these adventures, according to scientists, is that it creates stimulation in the brain, which in turn releases chemicals that can reduce pain and increase happiness or satisfaction.

These are just two examples of virtual reality, but the uses are countless. Some seniors are even able to go back into their past and relive or experience of the past, thanks to VR. That’s the beauty of this technology, and it’s just one of many that are coming which will be designed to help all people, including older adults, experience life as fully as possible.

The Impact of Technology

Aside from virtual reality, there are several other technologies that older adults have learned are helpful. For example, the virtual home assistants that are commonplace today – Amazon Alexa and Google Home. These devices allow users to control music, lights, anything that can be plugged into the wall, and even grocery deliveries, with their voice. They answer questions, and can also carry on simple conversations such as salutations, telling jokes, and relating facts from the web.

Then there is the current trend toward small, personal robots. These little machines can be house assistants, and even virtual pets. Companies are working hard to design these devices to be useful to both older adults and to special needs adults, in an effort to help them remain independent for as long as possible.

It’s no wonder these advances are coming, either. Scientists at MIT and private companies have discovered that VR and smart devices such as robots can help older adults live better, fuller lives. For example, the University of Arizona is using VR to help at-risk older adults improve their balance, build their muscle tone, and resume activities they may have had to give up in the past.

Other scientists have found that spending a few minutes participating in VR activities each day can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress in older adults. It’s even been said to reduce physical pain by as much as 24 percent - even after the person stops using the VR device.

Technologies can be scary. At first glance, we might even wonder why in the world someone would want to use virtual reality? In truth, however, technology can help improve the lives of everyone, including older adults. So, the next time the grandkids want you to put on that VR headset and give it a try? Do it. It won’t hurt, and you may find the experience is much more fun and relaxing that you expected it to be.


Tech Revolution Benefits the Aging,” Sally Abrahms, June 2017, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report.

Scientists Test Virtual Reality Tools to Help Seniors,” Casey Kelly-Barton, Senior Advisor.

For Senior Citizens, the Future of VR Lies in the Past,” Mary Pilon, April 2017, Wired.

Virtual Reality Opens the World to Aging Seniors,” Rosie Wolf Williams, March 2017, MarketWatch.

A Whole New World: Virtual Reality for Seniors,” Catherine Misczuk, April 2017, Senior Care Advice.

About Rendever,” Rendever.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Reduce Risks of Falling for Seniors

How to Reduce Risks of Falling for Seniors

It’s an unfortunate truth that as we get older, our stability and coordination faculties begin to falter. It comes as little surprise, then, that one of the biggest causes of anxiety for older adults – especially those who live alone – is falling or tripping when going about daily activities in the home. Fall-related injuries account for the biggest portion of the injuries that older patients present with in the emergency room, so it pays to know how to reduce risks of falls in seniors, both for the affected demographic and their families. The following safety tips for fall prevention are a great place to start.

It Starts with the Home

Whether the older person lives in a retirement village or in their own home, it’s paramount to make the living space amenable to safe walking. This means everything from cleaning up hazards on the ground-level – grandkid’s toys that are lying around, low coffee tables in awkward places, rugs that are easy to trip over – to installing rails in tricky places like the bathroom and stairs. Consider adding cabinets to the wall to create more floor space to safely maneuver around the house.

Buy Shoes With Good Grip

Slippery soles are a major risk when the walker is already unsteady on their feet. If you’re older and wear shoes in your home, ensure that they have enough grip to keep you firmly grounded on carpet and linoleum surfaces, and outside in the garden, opt for deeply-grooved gumboots to ward against the dangers of mud and slippery grass. The same goes for walking on footpaths or around town; many of the Skechers-like casual shoes on the market make the grip a top priority when catering for the older demographic, so there’s sure to be no shortage of options.

Review Medications and Health Conditions

Some medications and diagnosed (or undiagnosed) health conditions can increase the likelihood of falling, due to their detrimental effect on balance, alertness, and muscle strength. Selected sedatives used to treat depression, for example, may be doing an older person’s physical fitness more harm than good. It may be as easy to solve as readjusting the time at which you take the pills, or your general practitioner might prescribe you a drug that interferes less with your mobility skills – but whatever the outcome, it’s important to stay on top of your health with the experts’ help.

Slow It Down

It can be difficult admitting that you’re not as mobile as you used to be, but it’s an integral thing to accept so that you can alter your movement style and behavior as your risk of falling increases. Try not to rush around your day, and if you’re finding yourself feeling a bit tired before making your way up or down the stairs, or on or off the toilet, then take a moment to rest before making those transitional movements.

Seeing Matters

In some cases, an increased tendency to fall can be traced back to failing eyesight, a problem that can be treated with a simple trip to the optometrist. The issue might also be caused by bifocal lenses, which have been known to cause balance trouble on stairs, so getting an expert to assess the individual’s eyesight at least every year is a sensible idea. Additionally, check that important areas of the home are well-lit – dim lighting can do as much harm as a dodgy glasses prescription.

Keep Exercising to Stay Mobile

Though it may sound counterintuitive, the best way to prevent failing mobility is to move more. Getting used to the altered way that your body works as you age will allow you the best chance of moving around without injury – so, if you’re able, recruit a few friends for a walking group and see how much better you feel.

Author - Plumbing Plus Marketing Team

- By Plumbing Plus Marketing Team

Plumbing Plus is one of Australasia’s leading retailers of plumbing and bathroom supplies, offering an extensive range of products. Browse their collection in one of their stores across New Zealand, or shop online at their website.


Falls Prevention Facts,” National Council on Aging.

Prevent Falls and Fractures,” National Institute on Aging.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Facts You Might Not Know About Labor Day

Five Facts You Might Not Know About Labor Day

If you can answer these five questions about Labor Day without looking them up, you are a Senior Spirit Genius!

1) Which U.S. state was the first to regulate Labor Day?
View Answer

Oregon passed the first actual law in 1887.

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2) Was the U.S. the first country to celebrate the holiday for workers?
View Answer

No. Canada celebrated the day in 1972, a full decade before the U.S.

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3) Who actually started Labor Day?
View Answer

The real answer is, “No one knows.” Some believe Peter McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was the initiator. Others say it was Matthew Maguire, an Irish-American union machinist.

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4) Which President decreed the first Monday of every September would be set aside for the worker’s holiday?
View Answer

President Grover Cleveland made the declaration during a railroad strike.

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5) How many hours a day did Americans work during the Industrial Revolution?
View Answer

Americans worked an average of 12 hours each day, seven days a week. Children as young as five worked alongside adults in mills and factories.

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What Is Labor Day About? 10 Historical Facts About Celebration Of American Movement,” Staff, September 2016, Latin Times.

Ten Facts About Labor Day You Might Not Have Known,” Staff, September 2016,

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Paying Off Credit Card Debt on a Fixed Income

Paying Off Credit Card Debt on a Fixed Income

When you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul on a fixed income, it might seem impossible to pay off existing credit card debts, but there may be ways to manage that debt.

One in three households of older Americans has no money left at the end of the month, or has to go into debt to pay the bills for the month, according to the National Council on Aging. In part, this is because of credit card debt. The Federal Reserve Board estimates that older Americans have an average of $40,900 in debt, in addition to the cost of living. For most living on fixed retirement incomes, that means there’s too much month left at the end of the money.

One way that some older adults may handle the situation is to reduce their debt load by paying off credit card debt. That seems counter-intuitive. You already have more debt than you can pay, how are you supposed to pay off debt? There are some options, and lightening that load could mean the difference in not only stress levels, but lifestyles.

Getting Help from the Credit Card Company

It isn’t always your first instinct, but looking to the credit card company for help might be your first best step. A credit card company’s highest priority is getting you to pay off the money they’ve loaned you. Their second is gaining as much in interest payments as possible. That means there are often programs and strategies that they don’t share. Call your credit card company and ask about these strategies:

  • Negotiate a lower interest rate: If your payments are current, some credit card companies will lower your interest rate. You just have to ask.

  • Zero interest cards: As your credit card company if they have any card specials that you qualify for that offer zero interest on transfer balances. If they don’t, look at other card companies. Be sure the check the transfer fees, though. Sometimes they’re higher than your existing interest rate.

  • Ask about a hardship program: Most credit card companies have a hardship program, even if not all customer service agents know about it. The program will usually reduce payments and interest rates for a specified period of time. They may even reduce or remove fees and penalties. However, you may have to talk to one or more people at the credit card company to find someone that knows a hardship program even exists.

Consider Other Cost Saving Options

In addition to reaching out to credit card companies for help, it’s also a good idea to look at your own budget and determine if there are places where you can cut costs. Common expenses like cable are probably not necessary. A good pair of rabbit ears will get you basic cable in most places, and you won’t have a bill.

Beyond basic expenses, one of the highest costs that most older Americans struggle with is prescription costs. To help combat that, spend some time researching programs that will help you reduce those costs. A good place to start is the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckup.

The BenefitsCheckup web site is dedicated to helping older adults find benefits programs not only for prescriptions, but also for medical car, food and housing, and several other areas. You can also check into local programs that offset living expenses for older adults. For example, your utility companies may offer discount programs for anyone over a certain age. The savings from any of these programs can then be used to reduce your debt burden.

Other Financial Alternatives

When all else fails, you could have some financial options for reducing credit card debt. Many older Americans have been in their homes long enough that they are paid off, or nearly paid off. If this is the case, you can consider a reverse mortgage.

Reverse mortgages are essentially when the bank makes your mortgage payment to you. At the end of your life, however, your heirs are left with a mortgage on the home that you live in, and if they can’t or don’t want to pay it, then the bank resells the home to recuperate the payments made to you. This may sound like a scary option, but in some cases, it’s exactly what you need to pay off high interest debt.

Similarly, a home equity line of credit might be a viable alternative. You can borrow against the equity in your home and the interest rate is tax deductible. If you’re not comfortable with the reverse mortgage options, a home equity line of credit could dramatically reduce the interest you pay on credit card debt.

Another option is to look at the value of your life insurance policy. Can you borrow against it, or even cash out the policy? If your debt is overwhelming, this might be a good option because it allows you to pay the debt off so your family won’t be saddled with it after your death.

Trying to juggle debt on a fixed income is stressful, but it’s not impossible. Look into the options that you have to reduce your debt load. Check out some of the options here, or try some of your own. Before you know it, you’ll have much less stress about money and more freedom to enjoy life.

Disclaimer: The Society of Certified Senior Advisors does not dispense legal advice and nothing in this article should be construed as such. If you have legal questions, please contact an attorney in your area.


Credit Card Hardship Programs: Little Known Alternative for Debtors,” Dana Dratch, October 2010,

8 Ways to Pay Down Debt on a Fixed Income,” Tamara E. Holmes, May 2016,

BenefitsCheckup,” National Council on Aging.

Knee Replacement and Revision Surgeries on the Rise,” Linda Rath, Arthritis Foundation.

Credit Card Debt and Living on a Fixed Income,” 2005, Balanced Financial Fitness Program.

Debt Management Tips for Seniors,” Aleksandra Todorova, 2007, Key Bank.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults

Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults

Many older adults are afraid that yoga is dangerous or convinced they can’t perform the moves, but research shows that yoga is a great choice for Baby Boomers and beyond.

The current yoga craze started two decades or so ago, and everyone wanted to participate. Something about the blending of the mind, spirit, and body was especially appealing to many adults who are stressed out and concerned about their health. As it turns out, yoga is more than just a fad.

Yoga comes in a variety of types, and nearly all of them have been proven to have some health benefit. And, you don’t have to be a young, hard-body to participate. More Baby Boomers and older adults now take yoga ever have in the past.

The Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults

It may seem counterintuitive that an exercise regime that requires balance and stamina is suitable for older adults, who often suffer from balance, stamina, and breathing difficulties. It is. One of the things that makes yoga a smart choice for older adults is that there are modifications to most yoga moves that allow participants to build up over time. You perform at the level that’s most comfortable for you.

That means even if you’re experiencing mobility or other health issues, you can still participate in yoga exercise. More than that, you can benefit from those exercises. Many studies have been done on the effectiveness of yoga and what’s been found is:

  • Yoga helps strengthen muscles and can help reduce arthritis and the pain associated with it;

  • People who have difficulty sleeping have reported that yoga helps them to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer;

  • Those who suffer from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety report that yoga helps them to balance not only their body, but also their mind;

  • Yoga has also been shown to reduce medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes;

  • The focused breathing exercises practiced as part of yoga have been proven to increase lung function and reduce breathing difficulties;

  • And yoga is a gentle way to help reduce muscle loss and increase weight loss.

The purpose of yoga is to create a balance and harmony between the two sides of your body without straining either side. This contributes to the gentle nature of yoga and explains why there are modifications for all ability levels.

Choosing the Right Yoga Class

With all the different varieties of yoga, finding the right class could seem a little overwhelming. If you’ve never taken a yoga class before, start with a basic class. In the basic class, you’ll learn basic poses – like: the Tree Pose, the Warrior (I or II) Pose, and the Bridge Pose. Despite the tough-sounding names, all are easy, basic poses that can be modified to work for you.

Another thing to consider when looking for a class is who will be attending. A yoga class for older adults will be different - and probably more comfortable – than a boutique yoga class where there are miniature goats running around the yoga room or the class is conducted suspended from bungee cords.

Finally, find a class where you are comfortable. You may have to try several classes first to find the right one, but most yoga studios offer a limited number of free classes so you can meet the instructor and other participants. In most studios, the instructor will take a few minutes with new students before the class begins to learn more about what they hope to achieve with the class and any limitations they may have. The instructor – also called a yogi – may also move around the room during the class to adjust poses and help participants achieve the most from the class.

Once you have the right class, here are some of the basic yoga poses that you’ll likely learn, and that are beneficial to older adults:

  • Warrior (I & II) – Warrior poses open your chest and stretch muscles in your legs and shoulders.

  • Tree Pose – the Tree Pose helps you to gain balance. It’s a one-legged pose, but can be modified to keep both feet on the ground if needed.

  • Plank – Planks help strengthen your core muscles, which in turn improve you balance as well as digestion.

  • Cobra Pose – The Cobra Pose is an extension of a plank that helps to open the chest and work the muscles in the back, which is also useful in gaining balance.

  • Bridge Pose – The Bridge Pose helps to tighten the buttocks, strengthen core muscles in the abdomen, and to tighten back muscles – all important elements of maintaining your balance.

These are just a few of the poses and their benefits. When taken together, as a full class, classes can have help improve your whole body, your mind, and even your spirit. So, you see, yoga isn’t just for the younger crowd. Older adults are turning to yoga in large numbers as a means of gentle, effective exercise and as a way to improve other aspects of both physical and mental health. Give yoga a try. You might be surprised at how much you love it, too.


6 Yoga Poses that Age Well,” Katherine Tweed, June 2014, WebMD.

Yoga for Seniors,” Sara Cooperman, Lisa Ackerman, 2005, Senior Fitness Association.

Yoga for Seniors: Yes You Can Start Doing Yoga in Your Golden Years,” Ann Pizer, November 2016, Very Well.

Yoga Poses for Your 50s, 60s, 70s, and Beyond,” Amy Paturel, November 2016, AARP The Magazine.

Study Finds Yoga can Help Back Pain, But Keep It Gentle With These Poses,” Allison Aubrey, June 2017, NPR.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Roommates Aren’t Just for College Students

Baby Boomer roommates

When you think of roommates, you probably think of people in their 20s and 30s, but there’s a growing trend among Baby Boomers and beyond to find roommates for their golden years.

What do the Odd Couple and Golden Girls have in common? You may say they were good comedy, but there’s more. Both sitcoms featured older adults sharing a living space. It’s a trend that’s gaining in popularity outside the television world. According to the AARP, sharing a house is one of the fastest growing housing options for people over the age of 65.

Many people think of roommates and house sharing as being options for adults in their 20s and 30s, but as 8,000-10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day, many are looking to the future. How will they manage their homes in retirement? What if they lose a spouse? Or, one of the fastest growing age groups for divorce is 65 and older. How do you manage alone?

The Benefits of Sharing a House

Whatever the reason might be, more and more older adults are looking at ways to share their home, with good reason. There are many benefits of having a roommate:

  • Financial Help: Finances are perhaps the biggest reason that older adults consider roommates. Finding a roommate is a good way to supplement retirement dollars that just don’t stretch far enough, or to have some extra money for the fun parts of life.

  • Companionship: Many circumstances can leave an older adult unexpectedly facing their golden years alone. Finding the right roommate can ensure you have companionship – a friend to talk to and spend time with.

  • Safety & Assistance: Some older adults may find that they don’t have the mobility they used to have. Maybe you have health issues that make it necessary to have someone around to help. Having someone that can help you with day-to-day life is one reason many older adults choose the roommate option, especially those whose children live far away and have no one else to check on them. For some, a roommate is the difference between living independently and living in an assisted care facility.

Whatever your reasoning for considering a roommate, know that you’re not alone. Thousands of seniors are turning to this option so they can remain in their home, or not have to live alone. In fact, the AARP estimates that nearly 4 million woman over the age of 50 live with roommates who are also over the age of 50.

Finding the Right Roommate

Knowing that many people are living with roommates in their older years doesn’t necessary make it any less frightening for some people. After all, there are many variables. How do you find a roommate? How do you find someone that you like? How do you determine what to charge or if you should barter the services of an individual in exchange for them living in your spare room?

Probably the first place that most older adults look when considering a roommate is their immediate circle of friends and family. Is there someone that is in the same situation you’re in that you would be willing to share a house with? In many cases, however, the reason that a person is looking for a roommate is because they do not have friends and family nearby.

Fortunately, there are roommate finder services popping up all over the Internet these days. Some of them, like Silvernest, are designed specifically for empty nesters and Baby Boomers. Services like this ask you to complete a questionnaire and answer questions related to the roommate that you seek. Then they connect you with your matches and you find the person that suits your personality the best.

Even with a roommate service helping to match you up with someone who has similar interests and needs, you’ll still need to spend some time getting to know this person. It’s always good to meet a few times for coffee or drinks before scheduling a suitcase visit. This is when your potential new roommate comes to stay with you for a few days before the final decision is made. It’s a way to try out the relationship before you commit to it.

Making it Official

Once you’ve found a roommate, then you need to put an agreement in place. Some people believe a handshake deal is enough, but in truth, you need to protect your biggest asset – your home. To do that, it’s wise to have a clear understanding of what both parties can expect from your newly formed relationship.

In the agreement, be sure to outline what each party’s responsibilities are, and what is required from each party to sever the relationship. Take into consideration things like failing health family needs. For example, what happens to your roommate if you have a health issue that requires long-term care? What if another member of your family needs your long-term help, and they live in another state?

If necessary, obtain legal assistance to draw up the documents you might need. It’s well worth the expense to ensure your assets are properly protected.

Older adults are finding independence and happiness in the roommates they’re choosing. A roommate situation is an excellent option for allowing you to age in place, but not alone, even if your family lives far away. Just be sure to use reputable services to find your roommate, and outline expectations for both sides of the relationship. Then, you can enjoy sharing day-to-day life again.

Disclaimer: The Society of Certified Senior Advisors does not dispense legal advice and nothing in this article should be construed as such. If you have legal questions, please contact an attorney in your area.


Home Sharing: A Powerful Option to Help Older Americans Stay In their Home,” November 2016, AARP.

Over 50 and Need a Roommate? A New Site Has You Covered,” Starre Vartan, April 2014, Mother Nature Network.

Retired, with Roommate: Seniors Share the Rent,” National Shared Housing Resource Center.

New Trend: Senior Roommates,” Terri Yablonsky Statt, January 2014, my.SilverAge.

Co-housing: Consider Having a Senior Roommate,” May 2016, Seniorly.

Seniors Seeking Roommates: ‘Golden Girls’ Please Apply,” Clare Trapasso, June 2016,

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Aging Alone Will Make You Plan for the Future and Connect Socially

Aging Alone Will Make You Plan for the Future and Connect Socially

How one woman is planning for a future as an elder orphan.

As my age increases, long-term care planning and setting up my life to age comfortably can no longer delay.

Like many of us 55 years of age (and over) most have not planned. But for the adults who live without a spouse or adult children - we cannot afford to put it off. Even my parents delayed making arrangements. But they had offspring to rely on. I don’t. And since I work with aging experts at, they encourage me not to ignore my situation.

The Matters of Aging Alone

  • How do I understand my health care challenges and plan for them?

  • Will exercise be enough to maintain physical fitness?

  • How do I keep my brain sharp?

  • Can I sustain good health through eating healthy foods?

  • How should I invest and save money?

  • When should I take Social Security benefits?

  • Will I be able to afford health care?

  • Can I retire?

  • Will I have to work the rest of my life?

  • What are my long-term care needs?

  • Does aging-in-place make sense?

  • How do I stay connected and avoid isolation?

"Concerns about my elder care started after my parents' death. You see I helped care for them and once they were gone, it hit me, 'who will do that for me?'"

Since the topic affects me intimately, I'm constantly thinking through the issues but found that I have few people to bounce off ideas and solutions with, so, I created a Facebook group to help me build instant support. The group is called Elder Orphans and we're close to 5,000 members. The discussions are very lively and what I love most about the members is that we're in the same circumstance.

According to research on the elder orphans, the penalties for not having a plan can be extensive. According to Dr. Maria Carney, the geriatrician and research scientist, older adults have a higher risk of experiencing cognitive decline, developing coronary heart disease, falling, and even dying early.

These risks increase for people living alone and who are socially isolated. They have higher incidences of medical complications, mental illness, mobility issues and health care access problems.

This is not good news for us, the single without offspring or partners. As Baby Boomers turn 65, the aging alone segment will increase (Census 210).

Who Are Elder Orphans?

  • We are the socially and physically isolated living in local communities.

  • We live without a family member or a designated surrogate.

  • We have a higher vulnerability to losing the decision-making capacity.

  • We use only a few community resources.

  • We have a high risk of losing independence and safety.

  • We aren’t acknowledged (as a group) that will need more attention and care.

What Needs to Happen?

The geriatrician says, “The medical and social community must actively screen for elder orphans before they lose function or admitted to a healthcare facility.” Read more about her elder orphan research for more details.

Here's What I'm Doing

  • I've moved to a walkable/livable community, so I'm not car dependent.

  • Eat lots of fresh veggies, fish, legumes, and avoid red meat and sugar.

  • Work and pay off my bills.

  • Saving money.

  • Started an aging alone group in Dallas - to build face to face connections with folks like me.

  • Have put my legal docs in place.

  • Have a good health care insurance plan.

Please join us on Facebook if you're 50 and older, and living alone without the support of a spouse, partner, or nearby family.

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”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Understanding a Senior's Changing Relationship with Alcohol

alcohol drinking guidelines seniors

A majority of Americans ages 65 and older drink alcohol, and those who do are drinking more than older Americans in previous years, according to a study published this past spring in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The same study reported that binge drinking is also on the rise among seniors.

What many of these older Americans don’t know, however, is how the biologics of drinking change as they age. What constitutes a safe daily intake for a younger person could pose a risk to someone in their golden years, who may eat less, weigh less, drink less water and take more medications. Below are details of this unique relationship between alcohol and older adults, along with tips for helping seniors with alcohol dependence problems.

Alcohol and Aging

It has been said that “aging is not for sissies”. Growing older can often come with new life challenges and living constraints: the onset of chronic health issues that can bring with them loss of mobility and independence; the stress of caring for an ailing spouse or the grief of losing them to old age; a sense of boredom, loneliness or lack of purpose upon retirement; financial hardships.

In such circumstances, alcohol can become a mechanism for coping. Consequently, someone who at most could be described as a “social drinker” all of their life can begin to drink routinely and in excess of the recommended daily drinking guidelines for Americans ages 65 and older.

Rates of Excess Alcohol Consumption Among Older Americans

Drinking guidelines, as defined by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, are stringent for older Americans: no more than one standard drink per day for men ages 65 and older and less than one standard drink per day for women ages 65 and older. (According to the same guidelines, a “standard drink” would equate to a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor.)

Just how prevalent is this phenomenon of later-life drinking and drinking in excess of healthy guidelines? Quite prevalent, researchers found in a 2009 study published in the journal Addiction. The researchers found that 49 percent of older women and 65 percent of older men engaged in excess alcohol consumption. More conservative estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have put the number at 15 percent of men over the age of 60 and 20 percent of women over the age of 60. Multiply these numbers by the massive wave of baby boomers nearing retirement age, and the problem approaches epidemic levels. Health care providers, therefore, need to be prepared for the number of alcohol-related medical issues coming their way.

The Medical Risks of Alcohol Use in Older Adults

NIH research has shown that combining even moderate alcohol use with old age can increase risk of stroke, and heavy consumption can:

  • Make common health problems worse, such as liver problems, diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, impaired memory, depression and osteoporosis

  • Predict cognitive dysfunction, depression and dementia in older adults

  • Increase the chance of falls, and the severity of fall-related injuries, according to this 2004 study

Alcohol consumption at any level raised the risks of incurring an injury caused by others, and caused harmful effects when combined with medication.

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Medication

Mixing alcohol with medication can expose anyone to the physical effects and harm of an adverse drug reaction. With seniors, 90 percent of whom take multiple medications, the negative effects can be more harmful, for reasons detailed by researchers in the American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy:

  • Older adults are already more susceptible to the sedating effects of alcohol, which in combination with other sedating drugs can cause severe motor and cognitive impairment

  • Combined alcohol-medication use only raises blood alcohol levels, which are already higher for older adults when alcohol alone is present

  • When combined with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin, alcohol can cause internal bleeding

  • Alcohol use can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, or be used instead of medical care in an effort to self-medicate

  • Combining alcohol with medication can make older adults more susceptible to overdose, liver or gastrointestinal disease, dizziness and coordination problems, breast cancer, insomnia and gout flare-ups

How Alcohol Sensitivity and Tolerance Change with Age

Changes in alcohol sensitivity and alcohol tolerance are other catalysts in an older adult’s evolving relationship with alcohol. As people age, the percentage of their body weight that consists of water decreases, and the percentage of body fat increases, with the result that alcohol intoxication happens more quickly.

The rates of alcohol metabolism and excretion also decrease as an individual grows older, due to a slowdown in activity of a particular digestive enzyme in the stomach known as ADH. Lower ADH activity translates to higher levels of alcohol in the blood.

The overall result, then, is heightened alcohol sensitivity and a lower tolerance level. What was once a moderate amount of alcohol, now can cause intoxication and related health risks.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse and How to Get Help

For older Americans who binge drink or routinely over-indulge with alcohol, the effects of alcohol abuse can be nothing short of deadly. A mind and body that are already more fragile from normal wear and tear will be quicker to succumb to these damaging effects—especially when an addiction goes untreated.

It’s also the case that alcohol abuse is harder to detect within this population, precisely because many of the same symptoms can also be attributed to aging, including:

  • A loss of coordination

  • Cognitive impairment or confusion

  • Memory problems

  • Depression or changes in mood

The good news is that treatment can help. Contact a trusted doctor or the National Helpline, a free, 24/7 service of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for a treatment referral: 1-800-662-HELP.

Author -  Anna Ciulla

- By Anna Ciulla, LMHC, RD, LD

Anna Ciulla is the Clinical Director at Beach House Center for Recovery where she is responsible for designing, implementing and supervising the delivery of the latest evidence-based therapies for treating substance use disorders. Anna has a passion for helping clients with substance use and co-occurring disorders achieve successful long-term recovery.


Trends in Alcohol Consumption Among Older Americans: National Health Interview Surveys, 1997 to 2014,” Wiley Online Library.

Older Adults’ Alcohol Consumption and Late-Life Drinking Problems: A 20-Year Perspective,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Older Adults and Alcohol Problems,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults: An Invisible Epidemic,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Older Adults,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Self-reported alcohol consumption and falls in older adults: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the cardiovascular health study,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Risks of Combined Alcohol-Medication Use in Older Adults” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grandparents Impacting Grands

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

There is a special bond from the moment of birth grandparents have for their kid’s kids. They have your heart from the beginning to the end. Sometimes beyond that. I still dream about my granny and grandpa and it’s so good to see them. In my drowsy waking moments I think, I have to go see them today, it’s been awhile. Then as I fully wake, I’m sad because I remember they have passed on many years ago. Their effect on my life still resonates.

The impact you have on your grandkids is incredible. Whether you are raising them or not. You have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the next generation. You can do it! To keep these kids safe, healthy, happy and productive is awesome. You can enable them to live in victory. Grandparents can save the United States of America, one child at a time.

There is an epidemic or grandparents raising grandchildren. “About 2.7 million are totally responsible to raise their grandchildren.” In Indiana alone “54,174 children live in homes with grandparent householders where grandparents are responsible...” and it is estimated that these stats have significantly risen since those numbers were establish in the last national census.

I am part of those numbers. In April 2014 my son died in an auto accident and my husband and I became guardians of his 18 month old son, Anthony. Zachary, our son, asked us two weeks before the accident if anything happened to them, would we take care of Anthony. We said yes, never dreaming it would really happen. It has been quite a journey, being parents again in our early sixties. We feel it is an honor to raise him to be a godly young man and a productive member of society. I retired from nursing and found a new passion, grandparents raising grandchildren. I began a blog called to support and encourage anyone raising children, especially grandparents.

We also shared our story in a book. It’s about losing a son and gaining a grandson, finding hope and healing through whatever difficulty you find yourself in. The book is titled, The Summer of Paintless Toenails. When your son dies and the flip-flops come out, you don’t feel like getting a pedicure with polish on your toes. There are insights on parenting, coping, grief, connecting with others, and finding help and healing. We have had people say,” “It’s one in the morning, I have to go to work in the morning and I can’t put your book down!”

So how do you face this challenging journey? Besides getting our book on Amazon here are a few things you can do to survive and thrive in this life journey, no matter how many crazy twists and turns:

  1. Pray daily for wisdom for you and your family. It is fantastic that you are not alone! Your grandchildren can conquer the past and live in freedom.

  2. Advance one foot in front of the other. Do what needs to be done, one step or one minute at a time. Press through the haze or the pain. The kids need to be fed or the baby’s diaper needs changed. What needs done will often spur you forward.

  3. Connect with friends, family, support group or counseling. This connection is like an electric cord that energizes and keeps you going. Get coffee and chat with a friend, it will help you process what is going on in your life. Connect with yourself and journal, this gets your thoughts and feelings out there and helps you sort through them. Reading a good book can be like a counselor. I read “Parents in Pain,” by John White multiple times when my son was acting out.

  4. Maintain a positive demeanor. Speak words of affirmation over these kids who may be broken. Do it with excitement and enthusiasm! I sing “Good Morning Sunshine” loudly and with animation to Anthony every morning with hugs and kisses. My husband Sam says to Anthony, “Who is my favorite boy in the whole wide world?” He says with giggles,”I am!” It may take time, but the seeds you sow into the kids will grow into an abundant harvest, transforming and validating their lives.

  5. Take a walk. Do it whether you feel like it or not, your emotions will follow. If you put green grass, blue skies, red flowers and laughing people in front of your eyes, they will bring you a refreshing moment in the midst of your pain. Exercise releases chemicals in your body called endorphins that make you feel better.

  6. Care for yourself or you won’t be any good to anyone; kids, grandkids, spouse or friends. Build yourself up so you have strength and stamina for the journey. In an airplane you put your oxygen mask on first so you will be clearheaded to help your kids put their mask on and save their lives. Do what brings refreshment for you daily, even if just briefly!

You have a tremendous opportunity before you to make a difference in the world around you. I have heard many grandparents raising grandchildren say they would not have it any other way despite the challenges. There is a joy that cannot be expressed as you tackle this passion. These grandparents are heroes that are saving the next generation. Their reward is seeing the little ones blossom and receiving their love and appreciation as they become productive, respectful and caring people . We know, we have been there, done that and got the T-shirt, the whole wardrobe of reward! It makes life and everyday exciting and fantastic.

Author -  Debra Susan Bowman

- By Debra Susan Bowman

Debbie Bowman is mother of five, grandmother to seven and great-grandmother to four. Now retired from a forty year career as a nurse in intensive care Debbie is taking her intensive care to awesome Grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren.


Households and Families 2010:U.S. ,” US Census Bureau, April 2012.

GrandFacts - Indiana,” AARP.

Parents In Pain: Overcoming the Hurt & Frustration of Problem Children, by Dr. John White, Publisher: InterVarsity Press; 1st edition (January 24, 1979).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

August 18—Elayne Boosler

August 18—Elayne Boosler

Sixty-five year old comedienne Elayne Boosler has accomplished more than her fair share of achievements in the world, it would seem. She is famous for her feisty political humor but perhaps even more famous for her love of animals. Her tenacity and fearlessness led to her becoming the first-ever comedienne to finance her own comedy special in 1985, a time when cable networks would not allow females to host specials.

Her career began when she worked as doorperson at The Improvisation Comedy Club in New York City. Comedian Andy Kaufman, a performer at the club, convinced her she should get into standup comedy. She has always used her money and connections, however, to help animals around the world.

Elayne is an animal rescuer and advocate who founded an all-species animal advocacy and rescue organization called Tails of Joy.

“I never minded flying cheap,” she says. “I always said to myself, ‘Taking this flight saves enough money to rescue four dogs, or six cats, or will let me make a difference to the one woman saving chimps in Cameroon.’ ”

August 20 —Rudy Gatlin

August 20 —Rudy Gatlin

“And Best Country Song goes to … The Gatlin Brothers!” Who hasn’t heard the magnificent harmony of these three brothers? Rudy Gatlin, the youngest of the trio, began singing with big brothers Larry and Steve when he was just 2-and-a-half years old. This year, he’s turning 65.

The boys won a talent show in Abilene, Texas, and have never looked back. From guesting on the local “Slim Willet Show” in Abilene to performing for Presidents Carter, Reagan and (W.) Bush, Rudy has traveled the world and performed in so many television shows that he can’t remember them all. His musical career has been mixed with church, sports and school; the only time Rudy has been away from his brothers was during his college years. The first Grammy Rudy won with his brothers was for ‘Broken Lady.’

Aside from music, his passion is golf. He has organized and hosted, with his brothers, the ‘Gatlin Brothers Metro-PGA Assistants Celebrity Golf Tournament for MDA” for more than 20 years and raised over $2 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a result. He has also been involved in other charity golf events, including raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association.

"I've enjoyed playing with some of the greatest golfers ever!” he says. “Between watching their every move and the fine instruction of my long-time friend Randy Smith, some of it finally sunk in!"

August 19—Jonathan Frakes

August 19—Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes is turning 65 this month, much to the delight of Star Trek: The Next Generation fans. Most famous for his role as Number One (Commander Riker) to the captain on the 1980s reboot of the popular Star Trek television series, Jonathan has been married nearly 30 years to actress Genie Francis and has two children.

His career, however, began on Broadway after he attained his Masters degree from Harvard University in 1976. Jonathan’s first role on film came from an episode of Charlie’s Angels in 1978.

A little known fact about Jonathan is his love of the music. He played the trombone several times as Commander Riker and was a member of a vocal backup group for fellow castmate Brent Spiner’s 1991 album Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back.

Star Trek has been a double-edged sword for him, he admits. But he also admits that to deny the franchise would just be foolish. And, in some ways, he is a believer in the virtues the show espoused.

“If the prime directives were followed a little more accurately here on earth – I mean, it sounds Pollyanna – but I think people would certainly get along better.”

Source: Wikipedia

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

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Creating the Ideal Home for Retirement

Creating the Ideal Home for Retirement
Universal Design Living Kitchen and Great Room

[Excepts from the Universal Design Toolkit by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.]

People expect “home” to provide independence, accessibility, safety and peace of mind – regardless of disabilities, limitations or health challenges. Many are choosing to stay in their homes for as long as possible to avoid moving to independent living and senior-care communities.

This movement isn’t restricted to people who are aging. It applies, as well, to patients with sudden health changes – due to accidents, stroke, spinal cord injury – as well as to those with degenerative conditions such as arthritis, amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS), dementia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease.

For people who desire to remain at home, will the house where they are living sustain their independence for years to come? Could they come home after a hospital visit to recover from surgery or illness, or would they need to go to a rehabilitation or nursing facility? As mobility diminishes, what home modifications and changes would be essential to ensure accessibility and safety?

The Aging of Americans

The American population is graying. One in three Americans is now 50 or older — by 2030, one in five will be 65+. The number of people 65 and older in the United States is expected to increase to 55 million in 2020; to some 70 million by 2030, and to 88.5 million — or 20 percent of the population — in 2050. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that one in five Americans—about 53 million people has a disability of some kind. The American Community Survey in 2014 indicated that 36% of the U.S. population 65 or older has a disability. Additionally, 23% had difficulty walking or climbing stairs.

September CSA Webinar

Register for an upcoming webinar on universal design for aging in place, Homes That Make Life Easier: A look inside the Universal Design Living Laboratory, hosted by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

  • 33 million Americans have a disability that makes it difficult for them to carry out daily activities.

  • 2.2 million people in the United States depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility.

  • 6.5 million people use a cane, a walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility.

An AARP study in 2014 indicated 87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Among people age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place. The United States of Aging survey in 2012 showed that approximately 90 percent of seniors intend to continue living in their current homes for the next five to 10 years.

People of all ages and abilities need to live in a home safely, independently and comfortably.

A First-Hand Understanding

On June 13, 1998, my husband, Mark Leder, and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded trail in Granville, Ohio. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate. As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. I was crushed by a 7,000-pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

Coming home from the hospital in a manual wheelchair after my spinal cord injury, I realized how my two-story home intensified my disability. My husband and I knew that we had to sell our home and find something more suitable.

In September 2004, we hired an architect to draw the house plans for our new home in Columbus, Ohio. There was a steep learning curve for me in ramping up to build our home. We assembled a team of interior designers and over 200 corporate contributors to assist us. Serving as the general contractors, my husband and I spent 32 months building our home.

This home, named the “Universal Design Living Laboratory,” is the top-rated universal design home in North America, earning three national universal design certifications (view the virtual tour at

Having lived in the Universal Design Living Laboratory using a wheelchair for the past five years gives me a unique perspective. I have learned the importance of space planning and that small differences in the width of a door, height of a threshold or slope of a ramp can impact a person’s independence. I have experienced the joy of rolling on hardwood and tile flooring. No longer do I have sore shoulders as I did when rolling on the carpet in my previous home. Safety features like grab bars in the toileting area and shower have kept me from falling, and they make transfers easier.

Universal Design and Aging in Place

There are many terms people read about and use when communicating about homes that enable families to live in their homes during their retirement. The terms include: universal design, accessible design, aging in place, living in place, age friendly, and forever home.

Aging in place is the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.

The concept of universal design has been embraced by architects, interior designers, and other design and building professionals since the 1980s. The definition of universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universal design should be transparent design. Universal design is an approach to planning that embraces diversity and inclusion by providing for equitable use while promoting efficiency, flexibility and sustainability. Universal design is human-centered design, accommodating people of all sizes, ages and abilities.

Universal design takes as many needs as possible into consideration in the design process. The broadest spectrum of users is considered. It traditionally focuses on creating non-stigmatizing, equitable designs. Based on the premise that the environment can level the playing field for people with disabilities, it provides a broader, yet complementary approach to design. It is age and content appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, affordable, and has a broad market appeal.

Environmental factors in homes can be disabling or enabling. People need to design to human strengths, while accommodating for individual weaknesses and limitations. Design to work with, support, and enhance human functioning.

Life is easier when a home includes universal design features and products.

Improved Quality of Life Beyond Independence With Universal Design Features

By following universal design guidelines, a home will provide an improved quality of life for all occupants, not only those with disabilities. In addition to having more freedom in a home due to universal design, a home may also provide improved accessibility, convenience, safety, restore human dignity and provide peace of mind.

As people plan to remodel or build a new home usability features need to be top of mind in the design phase. These suggested guidelines, features and products help create homes that make life easier, especially for those who use a wheelchair.

Throughout the Home

Universal Design Floorplan for Aging
Universal Design Living Laboratory Doorway
  • Door thresholds should be one-half inch or less, and exterior and interior doors 36 inches wide.

  • Elevators or stair lifts may be necessary for multiple-story homes.

  • Hardwood, tile, composite materials and linoleum are easier to navigate when using wheelchairs or walkers.

  • Natural and artificial lighting increases safety for all.

  • Electrical outlets and light switches should be located where a seated person can reach them.


In the Kitchen

Universal design features in the kitchen include the overall design of the circulation pattern, cabinet design, countertop height and appliance selection.

Universal Design Kitchen for Aging
Universal Design Living Laboratory Kitchen

  • A minimum 5-foot turning radius throughout the kitchen allows a person who uses a wheelchair the ability to do a 360-degree turnaround. Power wheelchairs and scooters may need additional space.

  • Side-hinged ovens are preferable to those hinged at the bottom, installed at a height that is easy to reach from a wheelchair.

  • Cooktop controls and ventilation control panel at the front and at waist height make them accessible by all.

  • Multiple countertop heights, such as 40, 34 and 30 inches, accommodate a diverse population. A 30-inch countertop with knee space underneath works well for someone who remains seated during meal preparation.

  • At least half of the storage space should be accessible from a seated position, including drawers and cabinet shelves.

  • Cooktops and sinks with knee space beneath make for user-friendly work areas. This space can be hidden by removable or retractable doors.

  • A dishwasher raised 16 inches off the floor eliminates the need to bend down low.

  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer provide easier access from a seated position.


In the Bathroom

Accessible bathrooms meet needs for convenience, safety, privacy and independence.

  • Curbless showers with channel drains are a must-have feature.

  • Showers must be large enough to transfer a person and allow for an assistant when needed.

  • Shower chairs or benches can be mounted on the wall or used in portable form.
Universal Design Shower and Bath for Aging
Universal Design Living Laboratory Shower
Universal Design Bathroom for Aging
Universal Design Living Laboratory Bathroom
  • Handheld shower nozzles and an adjustable height vertical bar make showering easier.

  • Grab bars need to be accessible to toilets and showers.

  • Toilets seats should be 17 inches off the floor.


In the Laundry Room

Universal Design Closet for Aging
Universal Design Living Laboratory Wardrobe Room

  • Space to accommodate a 5-foot turning radius makes navigation easier.

  • Front-loading washers and dryers on pedestal drawers position these appliances to be accessible for a standing or a seated person.

  • A sink with knee space underneath allows all users to wash clothes by hand.


Insightful Discussion With Clients

How do you talk about aging when you are meeting with a client about their plans to stay in their home during retirement?

In a recent interview with Stephanie Loucka, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging, she said, “People just don’t like talking about aging. People need to have a conversation with their clients to explain the value proposition of making an investment now in their homes to enable them to live in their own homes longer.”

When planning for retirement, a client’s home should be a topic of discussion. Does the client believe that they can stay in the current home for the next 10-20 years? Will the home need to be modified or remodeled in order for the client to maintain independence as they age? What would be the cost to remodel? How soon should action be taken? What are the risks of falling given the current condition of the home?

When discussing a home remodeling project, point out that according to research by Genworth in 2016, the average cost for independent living is $43,536 per year. Then compare that cost to the investment they can make to remodel their home to enable them to stay in their home longer.

To get a more accurate assessment of the true costs, factor in tangibles like the costs of selling a home and moving expenses. Emphasize that there are also intangible downsides to moving, such as the hassle of clearing out clutter, selling furniture, and the disruption of social networks in the neighborhood.

Then compare that cost to the investment they can make to remodel their home to enable them to stay in their home longer.

Clients need to plan now for home renovations or a move into a different home. They need to make a wise decision and be proactive before realizing that the configuration of their house is limiting their ability to function in their home.

Author -  JRosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

- By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. consults with remodelers, builders, architects, designers, and consumers that want to create inspired and livable homes. She is an internationally known speaker, consultant, and author ( Her newest resource, the Universal Design Toolkit, is an illustrated 200-page e-book with online videos and webinars (


Universal Design Toolkit,” Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

The United States of Aging Survey," 2012, AARP.

The United States of Aging Survey” 2016, Genworth.

AARP Livable Communities Baby Boomer Facts and Figures” AARP.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Being is Meaningful Work

Being is Meaningful Work

For many years, my mantra has been, “Meaningful work, paid or unpaid, through the last breath.” For most of that time, I’ve been thinking about work as purposeful doing.

During the last 20 years since I shifted my professional focus on life-work planning from youth to older adults, I’ve wanted to counter ageism by showcasing the productivity and potential of older adults who are teaching and learning, doing and caring for themselves and others. The Census Bureau described all of us under age 16 or over 65 as “dependents.” It seemed important to show a different perspective. Whatever their age, people who were doing meaningful work that tapped their skills and interests – whether paid or unpaid — were benefiting both themselves and their communities.

So at age 69, in 2001, I completed my PhD in Minnesota with a survey report on “Productive Aging in Rural Communities.” We quantified the economic value to the community of the time devoted by age 55+ adults to employment, volunteering, and caring for grandchildren and sick/disabled adults. We also asked people about their health and how they were feeling about themselves. In these rural communities where both younger workers and aging services were sparse, older adults were often the only ones around to do what was needed. Older adult productivity was extraordinarily high and along with it, the health, positive attitude, and self-reliance of older adult residents.

Those survey results nudged me to start organizing education and advocacy to support self-determination, creative expression, and meaningful work for and with older adults. Since then, I’ve co-founded three older adult networks to raise awareness about our potential and cultivate leadership for positive aging: the Vital Aging Network, the SHIFT network, and the global Pass It On Network.

This year, whether because of my age (85) and stage of life or because of the tensions that appear to be growing in this splintered world, I’ve been hungry to hear about the changes that people are perceiving both in the world around them and within themselves. During my recent visit to the Seattle area, my daughter responded to my need and convened a Circle of wise women who voiced some deep questions for all of us to ponder:

  • How can we create a future that will be worthy of the potential of human life? By what narrative are we going to live and die that will take the cosmos into account?

  • Am I ready to step up to my real life? As an artist, am I ready to spin the yarn of the new realities and still express the nature of belonging and sense of home?

  • What does it take to show up full-hearted with people different from me? To bridge differences and become a peacemaker? To find spaciousness?

  • How can we step up as women with heart, soul and body? Will we have our posse at our back to support us?

  • What are the stories that we will leave for the future to find? What will hint of our deep past? How will l deposit things that will be useful? We are Thresholding!

As stated by one of the wise women, Christina Baldwin, co-founder of The Circle Way and creator of Peer Spirit Circles, “The Circle is a sacred container where magic happens.”

I am trying to make changes to live my learning as time goes on.

And where are you in the process of living this life?

Author -  Janet M Hively, PhD

- By Janet M Hively, PhD

Jan Hively is a social entrepreneur who has co-founded three non-profit networks for older adults to share their strengths and help each other, themselves, and their communities since she earned her PhD at age 69 in 2001 with a dissertation on Productive Aging. Her global Pass It On Network is based in Paris with its co-founder and International Coordinator, Moira Allan.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mesothelioma and the Risk for Seniors

Mesothelioma and the Risk for Seniors

Cancer is a difficult subject to talk about. It is invasive, draining and life changing and most everyone personally knows someone who has been affected. However, fear of the disease cannot dissuade from important conversations about risk, prevention, and next steps.

The fact of the matter is cancer is a disease of the aging. “The cumulative risk for all cancers combined increases with age, up to age 70” with about 50 percent of cancer cases found in those 65 and older. That number is expected to increase to 70 percent by 2030 as illnesses that formerly caused death at a young age gain better treatments or are cured altogether, meaning people are living well into their 70s, 80s and 90s.

But age does not mean you have to be submissive to an eventual cancer diagnosis. Chances of cancer are much lower if you live a proactive, healthy lifestyle. What you’ve heard is true; consistent exercise, avoiding heavy alcohol consumption, and limiting your intake of red meats do reduce the risk of cancer diagnosis. Prevention is key!

It is important to maintain those good habits as a senior for the benefit to your overall health, however, you should also be aware of the life you led in your younger years and how that may be affecting your health today. For example, if you smoked as a young adult before realizing the unhealthy side effects, your chance of lung cancer may be higher than non-smokers’ as it is estimated that 45% of those diagnosed were former smokers.

Similarly, you should be aware of any past workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals. According to the CDC, “Based on well-documented association between occupational exposures and cancer, it has been estimated that 3-6% of all cancers worldwide are caused by exposures to carcinogens in the workplace,” which equates to between 45 and 90 thousand new cancer cases each year.

One such environmental toxin is asbestos. A natural mineral and known carcinogen, asbestos exposure is the cause about 80 percent of mesothelioma cancer cases. The material was used in the many industrial jobs until limited regulations were put in place throughout the 1970s and 80s. It may seem unlikely that you will ever need to know this information, however, it is especially important for aging men to understand the risks associated with mesothelioma.

What You Should Know about Asbestos Exposure and Your Risk of Cancer

Through much of the 20th century the material asbestos was used in thousands of products from insulation and brake pads to clothing and kitchen appliances for its incredible heat and fire resistant properties. However the connections between asbestos and the respiratory conditions mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis soon became apparent and the avoidable risks to blue-collar workers and their families outweighed the benefits. It is estimated by the National Institute of Health (NIH) that 11 million people were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1978, much of that comes from workplace exposure.

Industry employees most exposed are firefighters, construction, shipyard and automotive workers, and asbestos miners. Because those industries are male dominated, men are about five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than women, however there are many instances of spouses and children being diagnosed from secondhand exposure. It should also be noted that port cities and Rust Belt states show higher rates of mesothelioma mortality at two to four times the norm.

Because of a long 20-50 year latency period (the time between exposure and noticeable symptoms), 80% of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are 65 or older with an average diagnosis age of 75 for males and 72 for females. (Note these numbers are considerably higher than the average statistic for all cancers above). Please consult a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and believe you may have been exposed to asbestos, especially if you fall into the high risk categories of occupation, location, age or gender.

Earlier Diagnosis Leads to Longer Survival

The good news is, though instances of cancer are on the rise, an overall increase of cancer survival rates, including mesothelioma, is attributed to better prevention, detection and treatment methods. Mesothelioma is a cancer often associated with a late diagnosis and low survival rate. The average life expectancy for a mesothelioma patient is 12-21 months after diagnosis and between 5 and 10 percent of mesothelioma survivors lives at least five years after diagnosis. However, early detection is especially important as there is a strong correlation between the age and stage at which diagnosis occurs and survival. One study showed individuals diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma at the age of 65 lived on average eight months longer than those diagnosed at 75 or older. Similarly, catching the cancer at Stage I rather than Stage IV can add years to your life.

Often times general mesothelioma symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, nausea, hoarseness and difficulty swallowing are thought to be the result of other respiratory illnesses, and thus a test for mesothelioma cancer happens very late in the process. Alerting your doctor with knowledge of symptoms and awareness of possible exposure maybe save your life by catching the cancer early.

Additionally, diagnostic and treatment options are improving everyday. One way to detect mesothelioma is through a blood test that identifies biomarkers in the bloodstream. New studies have found a biomarker protein called high mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) that can amazingly identify those who have been exposed to asbestos and have a high risk of developing mesothelioma, but have not yet done so. Another example is a non-invasive breath test that was recently developed that has a 90% accuracy rate allowing for effective diagnosis at a treatable stage of the cancer. New precision medicine and immunotherapy are seeing early successes in clinical trials. An ongoing study at Baylor University is testing the effectiveness of using immunotherapy, an immune system boosting treatment based on genetics, as a neoadjuvant (before surgery).

The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

As with any illness, prevention is the more effective “cure.” Although many researchers and scientists are working hard everyday to find a true cure for cancer, that accomplishment may still be years in the making. Until then, there are steps we can all take to try and prevent a future cancer diagnosis.

Author -  Emily Walsh

- By Emily Walsh

As the Community Outreach Director at Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, Emily Walsh builds awareness about asbestos and mesothelioma, an aggressive and rare cancer that affects about 3,000 people in the U.S. each year. MCA is an organization dedicated to providing reliable and current information and resources for those with mesothelioma and their loved ones.


Age and Cancer Risk: A Potentially Modifiable Relationship,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Cancer Prevention: 7 Tips to Reduce Your Risk,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

Malignant Mesothelioma” American Cancer Society, Inc.

Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality — United States, 1999–2015” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Occupational Cancer” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reducing Your Risk” LUNGevity Foundation.

U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy” Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

2016 in Review: Recapping Mesothelioma Research” Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.