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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

13 Fun Activities for Older Adults

13 Fun Activities for Older Adults

Staying active doesn't have to take place in a gym. There are fun, creative activities all around you.

It’s no secret that staying active is one of the keys to feeling young and living a full life. In fact, a recent peer reviewed study found that active seniors experienced a 44% reduction in mortality rate compared to seniors who aren’t active. Let’s take a closer look at some fun and exciting ways you can remain active and exercise your body and mind as you become older and wiser.

Benefits of Remaining Active

The benefits of remaining active are many. First, by staying physically active, physical and mental functions can improve, and certain effects of some chronic diseases can be reversed all thanks to exercising.

Perhaps even more impactful is the fact that those who remain physically active are less likely to become physically disabled in the future. The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a study in which two groups of individuals were analyzed. The study began with 1,600 individuals who did not engage in much physical activity. For the study, the experimental group engaged in regular physical activity (i.e. walking and balance exercises) while the control group did not.

After 2 ½ years, the effects of the study were analyzed. Researchers discovered that the active group was 28% less likely to become permanently physically disabled. They were also 18% less likely to suffer a debilitating physical episode, such as a broken bone.

In other words, it pays to remain active! Couple this information with the fact that increased activity is fun and rewarding, and there’s no reason not to get up and get active.

A Note On Safety

Before we jump right in and begin an activity and exercise regimen, it’s important that we acknowledge the importance of safety.

Staying active helps to mitigate many risks associated with advancing age. At the same time, there is one particular risk which is exasperated while you exercise, and that’s the risk of falling.

To put it in no uncertain terms, falls are the leading cause of death among seniors in America. Each year, over seven million older Americans are injured as a result of a fall, which results in an estimated 31 billion dollars of healthcare costs. It’s no wonder that medical alert systems are so popular, given those statistics.

This all may seem a bit grave. So, it’s important to keep in mind that exercise has a very positive impact on mitigating falls. It helps to increase your poise and balance, and in many cases, remaining active can contribute to preventing falls in your everyday life.

In addition to the risk of falling, older adults are also exposed to other injury risks that increase with their activity level. This includes things like strains, sprains, tendonitis, shin splints and back pain.

It’s important to know your limits before you begin any strenuous activity. Keep in mind that certain activities may not be ideal for you. If you aren’t quite up to one of the activities below, consider taking up a different activity instead that’s more in line with your abilities.

Consider this safety checklist before looking at the different activities below.

  • Consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise or activity routine.

  • Choose activities which are in line with your ability.

  • Be sure to wear appropriate footwear (if applicable) that’s comfortable and in good condition.

  • Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the activity.

  • Avoid exercising outdoors when it’s prohibitively hot or cold.

  • Pace yourself. If you’re just beginning a new activity or exercise routine, start small and increase your level of activity each week.

13 Senior Activities To Try Today

There are hundreds of different ways that you can get up and get active today. Here are some fun, productive and beneficial activities with proven benefits for both your physical and mental well being.

1. Tai Chi

The ancient art of Tai Chi is a useful source of exercise for people of all ages. Sometimes referred to as “meditation in motion,” Tai Chi blends lightly strenuous exercise with stretching and mindfulness.

This practice is particularly useful as we get older. Tai Chi improves balance, flexibility and overall fitness levels. Many practitioners of Tai Chi believe it’s also helpful to reduce pain, and some believe it can even reduce symptoms associated with depression. Studies have shown that Tai Chi reduces the risk of falls for older adult practitioners by as much as 45%.

There are Tai Chi centers throughout the country that offer beginner classes in Tai Chi. You can find a center in your area here.

2. Swimming

Another low impact source of exercise is swimming. While swimming is fun and enjoyable for just about anybody, there are even more profound reasons for older people to head to the pool for a dip. Swimming has been shown to ease arthritis symptoms, reduce knee, ankle and joint pain and even reduce high blood pressure.

Plus, swimming is extremely refreshing on a hot day, and by its very nature, it eliminates the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke while exercising. Almost every town in America has a swimming pool you can access. Many gyms, health, and community centers also have pools available.

3. Walking & Hiking

One of the best ways to remain active while also enjoying the great outdoors is walking or hiking. Dr. Michael Pratt, a chief medical advisor to the CDC, suggests that walking and hiking has “very real benefits for maintaining mobility and independence in older adults.”

It’s also a great way to take in the great outdoors. While walking is an activity that nearly anyone can engage in right now, be sure to discuss the prospect of hiking with your doctor before hitting the trails.

4. Gardening

Gardening is a fun and enriching activity that has plenty of cognitive and physical benefits. Gardening can be a great way to learn new skills and regain skills you may have lost. It also helps to improve memory and attention span while reducing stress and promoting feelings of calm and relaxation.

Gardening also helps to foster a sense of accomplishment, as well. Perhaps best of all are the tangible benefits of gardening. By gardening, you’re increasing the beauty of your environment.

Depending on what you decide to grow, you may even be putting food on the table in the process! Plus, it’s an activity you can begin right away. All you’ll need to start a garden is a plot of land and some seeds from your local home store.

5. Board Games

Board games are a fun and enjoyable activity and are a great way for those of us who can’t engage in physical activity to remain active. There’s also plenty of evidence that suggests that board games help to prevent against dementia and cognitive decline.

Engaging in a board game is also a great way to socialize, either with friends and family members or with complete strangers. Many of us already have everything we’ll need to get started collecting dust in a closet. But, if you don’t have any games yet, you’ll find a wide variety of games at local stores or online.

6. Yoga

Few things are more beneficial to the human body than yoga. Best of all, it’s not just an activity for the young and fit. There are tons of yoga poses and practices you can incorporate into your exercise routine regardless of how old you are. When it comes to yoga, there is such a wide range of physical and mental benefits.

Practicing yoga can help minimize hypertension, strengthen bones, increase balance and poise, build strength, and reduce anxiety, just to name a few. As for practicing yoga, there are studios throughout the country where you can practice yoga with others in a controlled environment. Many studios even offer classes for those 55 and up.

Yoga practice isn’t limited to a studio, either. There are plenty of online classes or DVDs you can pick up today that will allow you to create a yoga routine from the comfort of your own home.

7. Painting & Drawing

Painting and drawing are another low impact activity you may want to consider incorporating into your daily life. Not only is painting and drawing lots of fun, but there are a ton of other benefits that you’ll enjoy if you take up the hobby. Painting and drawing help to improve fine motor skills while increasing brain activity, concentration and mental health in general.

Many people swear by the type of therapy they experience that only art can provide. Are you thinking about taking up art as a hobby? The good news is all you need is a pencil and paper! If you feel like you’re in need of some more advanced tools, you’ll be able to find everything you need at the local craft or art supply store.

8. Group Trips

One of the most beautiful things about getting older is having more time to enjoy the things you love. If you’ve always wanted to travel and see the world, now is a great time to start. Group trips are a great way to enjoy the world as you connect with others in a social setting.

Many travel agencies specialize in planning trips for people who are 55 and older, and they can pair you with an enthusiastic group of people that are just as ready to enjoy the rest of the world as you are. Before you travel, there are a few things you may want to consider to make sure that you’re traveling safely.

9. Birdwatching

Another engaging activity that’s extremely popular is birdwatching. Birdwatching helps to exercise both your body and your mind, and it can be a great way to get up and get active. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable activities there are.

All you’ll need to become a successful birdwatcher is a field guide and perhaps a pair of binoculars.

10. Scrapbooking & Collages

Scrapbooking is another great activity that’s particularly popular among those 55 and older. It’s a great way to connect with the past while enjoying the present. There are also many therapeutic benefits associated with scrapbooking.

Scrapbooking helps to improve memory function while stimulating the mind, it’s also a great way to relax, which can help to lower blood pressure as well. Scrapbooking is a self-esteem booster, and it can also be a great way to communicate with others. Here are some fun ideas for getting started with scrapbooking.

11. Playing an Instrument

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent your entire life enjoying music. But, you may be unaware of the benefits that playing an instrument has, especially if you get older. Playing an instrument is a great way to improve cognitive function and coordination, and it also has a positive impact on our ability to hear and process speech.

Plus, according to The Hearing Journal, learning an instrument later in life improves our ability to process and retain information.

12. Cooking & Baking

There’s a good chance you’ve been engaged in cooking and baking for many years. But, did you know that cooking and baking have a strong positive effect on our mental health? Cooking helps to stimulate our senses, it makes us (and others) happy, and it can also be a great creative outlet. If you’re looking for a new activity to engage in, you might want to consider diving into an activity you’ve known your entire life and head for the kitchen!

13. Knitting & Crocheting

There’s a reason why these are such popular activities; Knitting and crocheting are therapeutic! Knitting is a great way to keep your fingers dexterous as you get older. They are also a fantastic creative outlet, and a fun way to blow off stress.

If you’re looking for an activity that will lend a sense of purpose, knitting and crocheting may be the answer. There are tons of charitable organizations that you can help right now by knitting or crocheting.

Take Action Now

Any of the activities above are great outlets that can help you exercise your mind, body, and soul. Not only are these activities fun and fulfilling, but they can be seriously beneficial to your health and wellbeing.

By getting more active, you’re sure to find more enjoyment in your leisure time. Best of all, increasing your activity level will promote living a longer, healthier and happier life. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get active!

Author -  Vincent Valvo

- By Vincent Valvo

Vincent Valvo is the founder of; a website dedicated to helping seniors “Age Awesomely.” On the site, you will find great information related to independent living and senior safety.


Changes in physical fitness and all-cause mortality. A prospective study of healthy and unhealthy men,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Physical activity in older age: perspectives for healthy ageing and frailty,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Effect of Structured Physical Activity on Prevention of Major Mobility Disability in Older Adults,” JAMA.

Falls are leading cause of injury and death in older Americans,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Falls are leading cause of injury and death in older Americans,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Making Waves: The benefits of swimming on aging populations,” Texas Education Magazine Online.

What Is the Evidence to Support the Use of Therapeutic Gardens for the Elderly?” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Playing board games, cognitive decline and dementia: a French population-based cohort study,” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Yoga Health Benefits As You Age,” AARP.

11 Great Benefits of Painting,”

Travelers' Health: Senior Citizens,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Top 5 Therapeutic Benefits of Scrapbooking,” Greg Nowak.

5 Reasons Baking is Good for Mental Health,” Elana Goldberg.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Healthcare Beyond the Sick Parts

Healthcare Beyond the Sick Parts

The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.

Older adults 55 and over worries about health and financial concerns and whether they can afford to pay for what they need to stay well and in good physical and mental shape. Most consumers, measure multiple aspects of well-being when evaluating their health. They depend on a variety of motivators like exercise, wellness check-ups, medical screenings, good nutrition, and social connections to stay happy and healthy.

Older patients understand that it takes effort to stay healthy and they prefer all aspects of their health considered when treated, and not only the sick body.

When medical teams treat the whole patient, which involves the food, physical activity, the medications, the care at home and the attention given by a doctor, the patient can participate more thoroughly in their care plan. Feeling and being understood completely by the medical team, motivates patients to participate more actively. I hear it all the time by members in my Facebook elder orphan group, they don’t feel the doctor understands the hard work they put into staying healthy, nor do they feel the doctor understands their life circumstances.

The latest elder orphan research confirms their feelings. The research geriatricians, believe that a patient’s living situation and circumstances should be part of an assessment in addition to the self-care. For example, the physician should learn about a patient’s living situation and whether they have someone at home to look after them when ill.

The researcher claim that most professionals and health care providers ignore the living situation altogether. However, aging at home alone, physically isolated, with very limited support, it leaves a patient vulnerable to high risks, getting little help with activities of daily living, and certainly no one around to give personal care.

Treating the whole patient involves all aspects of a person and whether one has the proper care at home to heal properly. It’s also significant for the individual to feel empowered to make informed decisions, not just receive instructions on how to follow a care plan. The process requires an understanding of the consumer preferences and their needs based on life circumstances.

The elder orphan research found that the care for older adults, especially those with little support, needs to stretch beyond a physician's office and reach into the local community services for help as well.

We need to develop more community-based aging resources and adult day care centers for social support offering a goal of preventing avoidable hospital admissions. Older patients also need multidisciplinary teams that offer medical, functional, social, and safety services.

A care coordination effort at the local level where older adults live will decrease healthcare costs and increase patient care outcomes. If medical centers could be nearby patients in the community, that would offset patient hardship like driving a distance to see a doctor.

Or how about relieving the patient’s need to drive anywhere? Could the care facilities have smart patient-care technology that allows the team to monitor the individual from home? The featured care could include prevention, mental health, diabetes, wound, hypertension management and programs, and more.

This type of service goes beyond viewing health care as treating a sick patient and addresses the needs of those aging alone.

Since there are close to 30 percent of individuals 65 and over who grow older alone, let’s not assume their needs are the same as those having nearby support. In your community, how can you, the senior service organization, do a better job to help elder orphans remain at home for as long as they can?

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.


Elder Orphans Hiding in Plain Sight: A Growing Vulnerable Population,” Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4723250.

How to Identify Scams Targeting Seniors

How to Identify Scams Targeting Seniors

With digital media proliferating, there are more scams targeting seniors each year. While phone and email scams are still the most popular, software scams are on the rise as hackers take advantage of the fact that many seniors are known to have ample savings and aren’t as comfortable with technology, making them an attractive target and more vulnerable to covert threats than other age groups. According to the FBI, seniors are also less likely to report fraud because they don’t know who to report it to or are embarrassed to admit they were a victim.

This makes knowing the most popular type of scams a crucial step in helping Certified Senior Advisors and seniors avoid them.

Are You Already At Risk?

While understanding common scams is important for preventing future problems, many seniors may already be at risk of identity theft if they have revealed personal information, such as their social security number or credit card number, via the phone or internet. While technological advances are partly to blame for increased risk, they’re also responsible for a number of innovative solutions. Thankfully, there are now many tools designed to help people minimize scam-related risks. LifeLock, for example, is an identity theft protection app that monitors a variety of risk factors and works to restore any data or privacy breaches that it detects. You can also use a well-researched and trusted anti-virus service, like McAfee, to prevent software scams, viruses, and malware.

What Types of Risks Should I Watch Out For?

Phone Scams: This type of scam is prevalent simply because of accessibility. Scammers can pay a low fee for a large list of targeted phone numbers, but they can also just dial random numbers and look for an unsuspecting victim. Elderly citizens are particularly vulnerable to phone scams because, unfortunately, they’re often more polite and trusting, and also happy to have someone to talk to.

The IRS Scam is a popular method of scamming elderly citizens via the phone. A scammer will call and indicate that they’re with the IRS. They will then demand personal information for some alleged crime or tax fraud. In reality, the IRS will never initiate contact via the phone, so any claim otherwise is an immediate red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer.

The Jury Duty Scam follows a similar pattern. Scammers call and impersonate a member of local government. They try to pressure the person on the other end of the line to reveal personal information, claiming that they missed jury duty and are now subject to immediate arrest if they don’t prove their identity.

One reliable tip is to avoid answering phone calls from numbers that you don’t recognize. If the message is truly urgent, the caller will leave a message, and by listening to this you can determine whether it’s actually worth calling back. Even so — some scammers leave messages, so only proceed if you know for a fact that it’s legitimate.

Email Scams: Similar to phone scams, email scams have a low barrier to entry for the scammer because it’s very cheap to buy a large email list, and the same message can be blasted to everyone on it, so it’s a widespread issue. Elderly citizens may have an even more difficult time identifying an email scam than a phone scam. There are countless unsolicited (but legitimate) emails that flood inboxes every day, so being able to separate out the spam can get very challenging for anyone.

The Lottery Scam is a broad category that covers any type of email scam where unclaimed winnings are used as the bait to get the recipient to provide their banking information to “claim” the false winnings. This type of scam is called a “phishing” scam, which according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is any scam that lures a recipient into providing information via false identification.

The PayPal Scam occurs when a scammer impersonating PayPal emails people telling them that their PayPal account has been compromised, and that they need to send their login credentials manually. The scammer is looking for access to the recipient’s PayPal account.

The advice is relatively similar, however, to that of avoiding phone scams: if you don’t recognize the specific email address it’s from, do not open the email and immediately delete it and/or mark it as spam.

Software Scams: It takes a more sophisticated scammer to pull off a software scam. This category is potentially the most harmful of the three, because it involves losing access to your computer and all of its valuable contents.

The Remote Access Scam is a type of software scam where a scammer makes a call and informs you that there is a bug in your computer. The scammer indicates that they need remote access (full remote control) of your computer to fix this issue. Once they have full control, they either install malware or steal everything valuable.

The Anti-Virus Scam is similar, but doesn’t involve a telephone call. This type of scam can come in the form of an email, online pop-up or a landing page of a scam website, and there’s an urgent message that anti-virus software is needed to save your computer from viruses. An elderly person is especially likely to believe this sort of message, as they are less inclined to be technologically literate enough to determine whether their computer has a virus or not. No anti-virus software should be downloaded sight-unseen. Make sure to read reviews before purchasing or downloading any such software.

According to the FTC, the best way to protect yourself from these types of scams is by avoiding pop-up messages that warn you about computer problems, unless you can verify that message is from your trusted anti-virus software (like McAfee).

Where Can I Read More About Scams?

It can never hurt to be more knowledgeable and prepared when it comes to the ever-evolving world of scams, which advance as fast as technology. Sticking to government resources (.gov sites) is a safe bet., for instance, has a thorough resource dedicated to scams and frauds. And the FTC (another government organization) even has a scam alert tool that will send you emails warning you of recent scams to be aware of. Check out their scam alert siteand sign up if you want to be extra safe.

Author - LifeLock Marketing Team

- By LifeLock Marketing Team

LifeLock is an identity theft protection service that monitors your credit and data risk so you don't have to.


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 24, 2017

Clearing the Smoke on Medical Marijuana: A Focus on Older Adults

Medical Marijuana: A Focus on Older Adults

Medical marijuana can relieve pain and symptoms of certain age-related diseases, but misconceptions about it are preventing further research.

Medical marijuana is back in the limelight due to the increased number of states that have legalized use of the plant as a possible alternative to pharmaceutical drugs that offer relief to people who suffer from chronic conditions. Several studies have shown that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for various illnesses, and many researchers believe there is a greater potential to expand its treatment to disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, research is restricted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, indicating that is has no medical value and is a danger to public health. This classification leaves researchers in the U.S. without the ability to conduct double blind studies and encourages the use of mice as test subjects.

This article attempts to clear up many of the misconceptions about medical marijuana, such as addiction and harmful side effects. Additionally, it examines research findings that focus on chronic diseases most common among the 65 and older population, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, glaucoma, and depression. The article concludes with a discussion of the possible reasons behind the DEA’s decision to oppose the legalization of medical marijuana (cannabis).

Cannabinoids: More than Just THC

A main concern regarding the use of medical cannabis is the possible psychoactive effect, which comes from one of the cannabinoids (chemical compounds) found in cannabis known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, THC is only 1 of 100 types of cannabinoids found in cannabis (Rahn, n.d.). Another type of cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychoactive molecule that has been shown to provide relief for an array of symptoms associated with pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and neurological disorders. Cannabinoids have different effects, depending on which receptors they bind to in the body. Both THC and CBD are not foreign compounds being introduced to the body, rather they imitate compounds that the human body naturally produces, called endocannabinoids. These compounds, whether endogenously produced by the body or supplied from the cannabis plant, once activated, are taken up by cells to maintain internal stability and health.

Other concerns are the potential for addiction and harmful side effects from medical cannabis. The results regarding addiction from using marijuana are mixed. The worst side effects come from smoking cannabis with THC, such as dry mouth, dry/red eyes, nausea, dizziness, blood pressure problems, hallucinations, and impaired mental functioning. Prescription drugs, on the other hand, can be even more addictive than medical cannabis and are more likely to have harmful side effects. For example, a prescription drug called Razadyne (generic name: galantamine), used to treat Alzheimer’s disease related dementia, features a list of side effects that can be more serious than the condition being treated, including: seizures, black/bloody stool, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, abdominal pain, severe dizziness, blurred vision, depression, insomnia, and loss of appetite (American Society of Health System Pharmacists, 2017). Although such side effects might not be as serious for a younger, healthier adult, it can be the difference between life and death to an ailing older adult. Possible side effects for medical cannabis are mild when compared to many prescription drugs and, as mentioned above, the THC compound that has possible psychoactive effects does not have to be used in medical cannabis; there are different compounds that can be used for medicinal purposes with less harmful side effects. In addition, medical cannabis does not have to be smoked; other options include taking it orally or using it topically.

Polypharmacy: The “Other” Drug Problem

Across the nation, nearly 50 percent of older adults are taking upwards of 10 different medications to treat chronic illnesses, many of which are not medically necessary (Maher, Hanlol, and Hajjar, 2014). This phenomenon is known as polypharmacy. Polypharmacy increases risk of negative health outcomes, such as dangerous drug interactions caused by lack of geriatric education in medical schools and inadequate communication between physicians, as well as higher healthcare costs due to hospitalization from drug-related complications. One frequently overlooked polypharmacy consideration is that many prescription drugs act differently in older patients than younger ones. A drug that has a long half-life will last even longer in the older patient. With only 7 percent of physicians trained in geriatrics, this factor can be easily overlooked when prescribing medications to older patients. The Institute of Medicine study (2006) found that there were at least 400,000 preventable adverse drug events every year in hospitals, which increased annual health care costs by approximately $3.5 billion.

So how might medical marijuana help to reduce the number of medications prescribed to older patients? Bradford and Bradford (2016) examined how implementing state-level medical marijuana laws changes prescribing patterns and patient expenditures in Medicare Part D for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription drugs. They found that in states where medical marijuana was legal, physicians gave out 4,593 fewer prescriptions for all conditions in the study (anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders, spasticity), except for glaucoma, and 1,826 fewer prescriptions specifically for pain medications annually per physician. Other findings show that Medicare Part D spending, for both program and enrollee spending, fell by $104.5 million in 2010. In addition, the cost savings had risen to $165.2 million by 2013. Overall, they suggested that if all states had implemented medical marijuana laws, the total savings to Medicare Part D would have been $468.1 million.

Medical Marijuana for Various Age-Related Diseases

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

A review of current scientific studies shows that it is possible for medical cannabis to provide symptomatic relief to patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and may moderate the progression of both diseases. Cannabinoid compounds have become potential therapeutic agents against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease because of their known multifaceted neuroprotective properties (Aso, Juves, Maldonado, and Ferrer 2013). So far, CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors have been isolated for treatment because targeting them may reduce neuro-inflammation and impaired memory, without causing psychoactive effects (Campbell and Gowran, 2007). Overall, manipulation of the cannabinoid pathway offers an alternative approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that may be more effective than current treatment regimes. However, more research is needed to examine the long-term effects of medical marijuana on these neurological disorders.

Pain Management

Older adults are more likely than younger adults to experience pain due to chronic conditions and many rely on prescription opioids for pain management. Medical marijuana has the potential to help block out discomfort because it binds to pain receptors. Currently, around 10 percent of Americans use marijuana to control pain (Bronstein, Dhaliwal, and Leider, 2011). A study of adults age 50 and older found that those living in states that allowed them to legally use medical marijuana had reduced rates of pain and less pain-related work interference (Nichols, 2016).


Joints naturally produce cannabinoids, but over time with arthritis, their ability to do so declines. Injecting cannabinoids into arthritic joints can decrease some of the pain, inflammation, and joint damage caused by osteoarthritis (Biro 2016; Ruhaak, et al, 2011). Oral cannabinoids have been found to give minimal to moderate relief compared to a placebo in those with musculoskeletal pain, including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia (Biro, 2016). A review of 18 studies of the medical use of cannabinoids found that it was safe and modestly effective for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia (Lynch and Campbell, 2011). Medical marijuana has also been found to improve sleep, which is a common issue among those with arthritis.


Marinol, which the DEA describes as the existing legal form of medical marijuana, was developed to alleviate cancer treatment side effects. Marinol is metabolized by the body very quickly and only 10-20 percent of the oral dose actually reaches systemic circulation. By contrast, medical marijuana that is smoked is rapidly absorbed by the body and more of the medicinal compounds actually reach the body’s systemic circulation. Marinol also has several precautions and side effects, including seizure disorders, adverse reactions for patients who have had heart problems, mental health problems, and issues with substance abuse (, 2016). Trial studies have indicated that medical marijuana increases appetite and reduces nausea with fewer side effects.


Osteoporosis occurs when the body makes too little bone, the body loses bone, or both. One in two women and one in four men will break a bone by age 50 due to osteoporosis (NOF. org, 2016). Cannabinoids play a key role in the metabolism of bone (Idris and Ralston, 2010). Medical marijuana injections could help stop bone loss due to osteoporosis, but few trials or research studies on its effectiveness exist.


Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve due to increased eye pressure (National Eye Institute, 2016). Studies have found that medical marijuana reduces pressure inside the eye, relieving discomfort for three to four hours. However, other drugs currently available might relieve pain for longer. More research is needed.


The research on medical marijuana and depression is still in the early stages and most studies are based on non-human subjects. Medical marijuana has been found to reintroduce cannabinoids into the brain of rats, which helps to replenish depletion and reduce chronic stress and depression. Views are mixed whether medical marijuana leads to depression or if it treats depression (Lev-Ran, 2014). Another concern about using medical marijuana to treat depression is that it may trigger psychosis in people with a higher risk of those conditions (Baker, 2010). More research is needed to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks and how to avoid high-risk populations.

What’s Blocking Research that May Help Older Adults?

Several organizations support medical marijuana such as the Institute of Medicine, American Cancer Society, and the American Medical Association. Additionally, in a 2015 Gallop poll, 70 percent favored making it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana in order to reduce pain and suffering. With reputable organizations and a majority of people favoring making medical marijuana legal, why such opposition?

One reason for this opposition is fear and misunderstanding about the consequences of legalizing medical marijuana, including making it easier for teens and kids to access the drug, driving while under the influence, and abuse. Studies in Colorado and Washington have shown that since medical marijuana was legalized, teen rates of use have been unchanged (Monitoring the Future Survey, 2015). In Colorado, there has been a slight increase in emergency room visits of children under age nine from accidental ingestion, however, emergency rooms and poison control centers are far more likely to see children who have ingested common household substances like laundry detergent or crayons (Washington Post, 2016). Safety precautions can keep kids away from medical marijuana, much like parents keep children away from flavored over-the-counter medicine. Furthermore, overall arrests for marijuana have declined significantly in those states, saving the system millions of dollars. Traffic fatalities have also remained largely unchanged, and one study found a 9 percent decrease after the legalization of medical marijuana (Anderson and Rees, 2011). Regarding the potential for abuse, Wallace (2015) recommends that patients should be monitored, and have routine follow-ups with prescribing physicians to assess progress with treatment.

On the other hand, prescription opioids can be dangerous or even deadly for people of all ages. Currently, there are enough opioids prescribed each year to put a bottle in every household. Opioids can be dispensed as pills, patches, or a flavored lollipop. The rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012, and the rate of toddlers being hospitalized has more than doubled (NPR, 2016). Overall, opioid-related fatal poisonings have quadrupled over the last two decades (CDC, 2011). In 2010, prescription opioids were responsible for almost 60 percent (16,651) of all deaths due to drug overdoses in the U.S. ( Jones, Mack, and Paulozzi, 2013). By contrast, there has never been a reported overdose due to marijuana (medical or otherwise).

Another barrier is marijuana’s federal classification. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug—in the same class as heroin. This classification makes it difficult for any research to be conducted on the drug legally. In August of 2016, the DEA once again rejected the opportunity to reschedule marijuana to a Schedule II drug—a classification that would allow for more research. As Ingraham of the Washington Post explains, “The FDA has never approved whole plant marijuana as a drug… most drugs the FDA approves of are individual chemical compounds, not plants. Penicillin is an FDA-approved drug, for instance. The mold it’s derived from is not.” He goes on to say that, “… the DEA cannot change the legal status of marijuana unless the FDA determines it has a medical use. The FDA cannot determine it has a medical use in part because of the highly restrictive legal status of the drug.” Pharmaceutical companies also stand to lose profit from a change in marijuana’s classification. Insys Therapeutics, for example, is the maker of a synthetic THC drug and recently contributed $500,000 to oppose legislation in Arizona that would allow for full legalization (Washington Post, 2016).

Some states have enacted their own laws on marijuana that largely support physicians’ standpoints that medical marijuana provides medicinal benefits for their patients. Other suggestions include keeping marijuana as a Schedule I drug, but create an allowance for medical marijuana research, or to amend the Controlled Substances Act.

The miseducation about medical marijuana over the last 50 years has been detrimental to the progression of research into the effects it may have on countless diseases. With a rapidly aging population comes an increase in chronic disease. If there is a chance that medical marijuana is as effective and inexpensive as some recent studies have shown, and provides pain relief that curtails the national epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses, then people with these debilitating diseases deserve the option to choose medical marijuana as an alternative. However, until the DEA changes medical marijuana classification from a Schedule I drug, researchers will continue to face multiple hurdles in documenting the full scope of its benefits.

Author -  Dr. Lisa Rill

- Dr. Lisa Rill

Dr. Lisa Rill currently works as Research Faculty III at the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University. Her research includes identifying ideal assisted living facilities, long-term care labor force issues, nursing home risk scores, Medicare/Medicaid, and universal design for senior housing.

Author -  Dr. Lori Gonzalez

- Dr. Lori Gonzalez

Dr. Lori Gonzalez is Research Faculty III at the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University. Her research focuses on quality of care and quality of life in long-term care. Dr. Gonzalez has authored several works on the Green House Project and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. (2017). Galantamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved from http://medlineplus. gov/druginfo/meds/a699058.html#side-effects.

Anderson, D., and Rees, D. (2011). Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6112. Retrieved from timeline.php?timelineID=000026.

Aso, E., Juves, S., Maldonado, R., and Ferrer, I. (2013). CB2 Cannabinoid Receptor Agonist Ameliorates Alzheimer-Like Phenotype in AßPP/PS1 Mice. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 35, 847–858; DOI:10.3233/JAD-130137.

Baker, A., Hides, L., and Lubman, D. (2010). Treatment of Cannabis Use Among People with Psychotic or Depressive Disorders: A Systemic Review. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(3), 247-254; DOI:10.4088/JCP.09r05119gry.

Biro, T. (2016). SP0107 Cannabinoids and Inflammation: Focus on the Joint. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 75, 26; DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-eular.6417.

Bradford, A. and Bradford, D. (2016). Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use in Medicare Part D. Health Affairs, 35 (7), 1230-1236; DOI:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1661.

Bronstein, K., Dhaliwal, J., and Leider, H. (2011). Rates of Inappropriate Drug Use in the Chronic Pain Population: An Update. The Journal of Pain, 12(4), P5; DOI:10.1016/j. jpain.2011.02.020.

Campbell, V.A. and Gowran, A. (2007) Alzheimer’s disease: taking the edge off with cannabinoids? British Journal of Pharmacology, 152, 655–662; DOI:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707446.

Centers for Disease Control. (2016). Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control. (2014). Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control. (2011). Vital Signs: Overdoses of prescription Opioid Pain Relievers—United States, 1999-2008. Retrieved from mm6043a4.htm.

Institute of Medicine. (2006). Medication Errors: IOM Report. MedicationErrorsIOMReportFall2006.aspx.

Jones, C., Mack, K., and Paulozzi, L. (2013). Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States, 2010. Journal of the American Medical Association, 309 (7), 657-659; DOI:10.1001/ jama.2013.272.

Lev-Ran, S., Roerecke, M., Le Foll, B., George, T., McKenzie, K., and Rehm, J. (2014). The Association Between Cannabis Use and Depression: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies. Psychology Medicine, 44(4), 797-810; DOI:10.1017/ S0033291713001438.

Lynch, M., and Campbell, F. (2011). Cannabinoids for Treatment of Chronic Non-Cancer Pain; a Systemic Review of Randomized Trials. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 72(5), 735-744; DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03970.x.

Maher, R., Hanlon, J., and Hajjar, E. (2014). Clinical Consequences of Polypharmacy in Elderly. Expert Opin Drug Saf, January, 13(1); DO I:10.1517/14740338.2013.827660.

Monitoring the Future Survey. (2015). Retrieved from

National Eye Institute. (2016). Facts About Glaucoma. Retrieved from

National Osteoporosis Foundation. (2016). Retrieved from

Nicholas, L. and Maclean, J. (2016). The Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws on the Labor Supply and Health of Older Adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. NBER Working Paper No. 22688. Retrieved from

Rahn, B. (n.d.) Cannabinoids 101: What Makes Cannabis Medicine? Retrieved from cannabinoids-101-what-makes-cannabis-medicine.

Ruhaak, L., Felth, J., Karlsson, Pernilla, Rafter, J., Verpoorte, R., Bohlin, L. (2011). Evaluation of the Cyclooxygenase Inhibiting Effects of Six Major Cannabinoids Isolated from Cannabis Sativa. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 34(5), 774-778; DOI:10.1248/ bpb.34.774.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. (2016). Retrieved from

Wallace, M. and Furnish, T. (2015). What Steps Should be Taken to Integrate Marijuana into Pain Regimens? Pain Management, 5(4), 225-227; DOI:10.2217/pmt.15.20.

Washington Post. (2016). Colorado Gives Marijuana Candy a New Look to Avoid Confusion. Retrieved from colorado-gives-marijuana-candy-a-new-look-to-avoid- confusion/2016/09/30/34478cae-86e9-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f_story.html.

Washington Post. (2016). A maker of deadly painkillers is bankrolling the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona. Retrieved from wp/2016/09/09/a-maker-of-deadly-painkillers-is-bankrolling- the-opposition-to-legal-marijuana-in-arizona/?utm_term=.bdec569e7654.

A version of this article, Clearing the Smoke on Medical Marijuana: A Focus on Older Adults written by Dr. Lisa Rill and Dr. Lori Gonzalez originally appeared in CSA Journal Journal 68 - Volume 1, 2017.

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