Sunday, March 31, 2019

Top 10 Health Concerns of Older Adults



As we live longer, we become vulnerable to more adverse health conditions. Here are the top 10 on the minds of older adults.


Whether or not you are among the 41 percent of people over age 65 who report very good or excellent health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you no doubt have nagging health worries. The prevalence of chronic diseases has gone up as lifespans stretch out, while the chance of an acute event increases.

Many adults manage lifestyle choices to reduce the likelihood of disease. Not smoking and staying at a healthy weight will lower your risk factor, but “you also need to be physically active and eat a healthy diet,” instructs Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., and executive director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Seniors want to maintain their independence, security and productivity as they age, yet more than three-quarters of adults over 65 are managing at least two chronic diseases, according to the National Council on Aging. Check out the council’s healthy living site for information on managing chronic diseases, fall prevention and healthful living. Find more resources under individual conditions, below.


  1. Arthritis: Almost half of adults over 65 are affected by arthritis, according to the CDC. Arthritis pain can discourage you from being active, so it’s important to create a plan, with your doctor’s help, to manage the disease. Mild pain medication combined with heat or cold will help to manage the pain, while an exercise routine geared to your own body and needs can keep you moving. Go to the Arthritis Foundation website for more information.
  2. Heart Disease: Accounting for nearly half a million deaths in 2014, heart disease is still the leading killer of older adults, according to the CDC. Certain conditions that are found more often as people age, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, increase the chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke. The leading risk behaviors include physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and binge drinking. Check for self-management strategies.
  3. Cancer: Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among people over 65, according to the CDC. Many types of cancer are treatable when caught early through health screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies and skin exams. While we often can’t prevent cancer from occurring, a healthy lifestyle can improve the quality of your life with a cancer diagnosis. The good news is that new treatments are on the horizon. Learn more about the latest cancer research.
  4. Respiratory Diseases: Chronic diseases of the lower respiratory tract are the third most-fatal class of disease for older adults, according to the CDC. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and emphysema all fall under this category. Older adults coping with respiratory disease are more susceptible to pneumonia and other infections. For these folks, it’s important to get regular lung function tests, take medications and/or use oxygen as directed by a doctor. Find out what to do about common breathing problems.
  5. Alzheimer’s Disease: About 11 percent of older adults have received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org Cognitive impairment is hard to diagnose, but experts agree that its impact is significant on the older population, from safety and self-care issues to the burden of care on families and cost of residential facilities. Check if an adult day care center could benefit someone you know.
  6. Osteoporosis: The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that low bone mass affects more than 54 million Americans above age 50. The condition puts people at greater risk of fractures and breaks, which can in turn affect quality of life. To prevent osteoporosis: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D in a well-balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, eat foods good for bone health, avoid smoking and limit alcohol to two or three drinks per day.
  7. Diabetes: A quarter of the population 65 and older is living with diabetes, according to estimates from the CDC. To find out if you have diabetes, get a simple blood test to check your blood sugar levels. The sooner you know that you have, or are at risk for, the disease, the sooner you can begin to make lifestyle changes to improve your health outlook. The American Diabetes Association lists frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, and extreme fatigue as symptoms to watch.
  8. Influenza and Pneumonia: These two acute conditions are among the top eight causes of death in older adults, according to the CDC. Seniors are more vulnerable to these infections than younger people, so getting an annual flu shot is encouraged, and your doctor may recommend the pneumonia vaccine as well. Check out these tips for preventing pneumonia.
  9. Substance Abuse: One in five people over 65 have had a substance or alcohol abuse problem at some point in their life, according to data analysis done from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The two biggest non-medical offenders were alcohol and tobacco, the survey found. Mixing substance use and older adults can be particularly dangerous because many seniors are on prescription medication, and have a higher risk of falls. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services national health hotline is free, confidential, and available around-the-clock every day of the year in English or Spanish. Call 1-800-662-4357.
  10. Falls: The danger of a fall that leads to an emergency room visit increases as we age. Nearly 3 million people are treated in emergency departments after a fall every year, according to the CDC, and most of them are older adults. Frighteningly, one-third of those people will wind up in the emergency room again within a year. Most falls happen in the home. The National Council on Aging lists six steps for fall prevention:

  • Ask if your loved one is worried about a fall.
  • Discuss current health conditions with your loved one.
  • Ask about their latest eye exam.
  • Notice if the person is having trouble getting around.
  • Talk about medications.
  • Do a walk-through of your loved one’s home.

Click below for the other articles in the March 2019 Senior Spirit








Sources:
https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/most-common-health-concerns-seniors/
https://www.ncoa.org/resources/fact-sheet-healthy-aging/
https://www.cdc.gov/index.htm 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Should You Retire When Your Spouse Does?



Couples often plan to take their leap into retirement together … but there may be a better approach.


One in four couples exit the workforce within a year of each other, according to research. But this planned symbiosis can have unintended consequences. 

It seems natural to start retirement together. Isn’t this what you’ve waited for, to begin a new phase of life as a couple, just as you’ve faced so many other joys and challenges? Many husbands and wives have planned this moment for decades, eagerly anticipating time shared with family and friends. Others have looked forward to more time together, free from the stress and confines of the work environment. But most have never stopped to consider the financial implications of such a move.

Know Your Savings Number

Part of the problem is that many couples haven’t looked ahead. In a recent Fidelity study, 46 percent of baby boomers said they had “no idea” how much they needed to have saved for retirement. Couples should use a retirement calculator, such as this free one from T. Rowe Price, to estimate how long their current savings would last under different circumstances. You can vary the input to get results based on retiring together or at different times.

“It’s about having a conversation and running the numbers to see what it means for one person to retire and what it means for two people to retire,” says Stuart Ritter, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price.

It can make a big difference in your savings if even one of you chooses to work a little longer. A 2018 study found that delaying retirement for just three to six months could impact your standard of living in retirement as much as saving an additional 1 percent of income over a 30-year career.

“Unless couples are the same age, and in the same health, it usually makes more sense for one person to retire earlier. There can be both financial and relationship benefits,” says Morris Armstrong, registered investment advisor, Armstrong Financial Strategies, Cheshire, Connecticut. One advantage is that a spouse who puts in extra years on the job will shorten his or her retirement period by that amount, preserving those assets and allowing for larger eventual withdrawals.

Retirement’s Emotional Impact

If both members of a couple quit working at the same time, it can cause complex emotional reverberations in the relationship. Not only have you lost your sense of identity from a lifetime of work, but you suddenly are together with your partner 24/7. Some couples handle this transition with aplomb and others chaff under this new arrangement.

If both spouses retire together, they can all too easily begin to take small frustrations out on each other. Boundaries that were previously clear can become muddled, and a happy union can show wear around the edges.

Retiring separately can allow one spouse at a time to adjust to this new reality. Perhaps he or she will delve into some volunteer work, or take up a new hobby. At any rate, that spouse can begin to process what it means to be in this new reality. Your relationship dynamic will change, and it can be beneficial to ease into a new system of living together.


The Social Security Conundrum

Another number to examine with care ahead of retirement, especially for any spouse who makes significantly lesswives, is social security benefits. (Stay-at-home mom/dads and anyone who , men who married someone significantly older women and those whose wife is the big wage earner should also take note). Generally, the younger you are when you start taking Social Security, the less you’ll receive. Spouses who retire at the same time as their older partner may lose peak earning years, which is especially true if the younger partner opted out of the workforce to care for children or an aging parent.

Your Social Security benefit is based on your 35 highest-earning years; if you have less than that, those years will get filled in with zeros. For that reason, women usually benefit more by staying on the job, according to a recent study. Additionally, if you continue to work until age 70 instead of retiring at 62, Social Security rewards you with a “bonus” for those additional years. If you retire before full retirement age (which varies according to your birth date), benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before that date. If you retire after, you may be eligible for retirement credits that increase your benefit up to age 70. See the Social Security benefits chart for pros and cons that may apply to your situation.

“A retirement delay of five years is a hugely positive move for couples who are just on the edge of having enough money saved, for those who have a family history of longevity or for those who simply need to work five additional years to get to ‘enough,’” says Jane Nowak, CFP®, financial advisor with Wealth and Pension Services Group, in Smyrna, Georgia.

The additional income generated by one spouse continuing to work may allow both members to delay taking Social Security, thereby increasing both benefits. 

Health Insurance

If one or both of you is opting out of a career before you reach the Medicare-eligible age of 65, you’ll probably have to find a source for health insurance. Less than a fifth of big employers offer retiree health coverage, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. So it may make financial sense for one of you to stay at a job that provides health insurance to cover you both.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it easier to obtain health insurance, especially for anyone with a pre-existing condition. However, these plans may be pricier and/or carry a higher deductible than what was available at your workplace.

If you thought you could just continue corporate health coverage by using a COBRA plan, you may be in for a surprise. While you may be covered for up to 18 months, you’ll owe the entire premium amount. That was about $7,000 per year in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

There is a further caveat to COBRA coverage that many don’t know about. When someone begins Medicare Part B, there is a window during which that person may enroll in a Medicare Supplement without any evidence of insurability. That window is vitally important, especially for someone with health conditions. However, anyone continuing on their employer’s health plan via COBRA loses that privilege because COBRA is not a qualifying event. There is no guaranteed insurability for someone who enrolls in Part B after COBRA stops and attempts to purchase a Medicare Supplement.

Do You Both Want to Quit?

It could be that after years of planning on retiring together, one of you is simply not ready to quit. Some people choose to stay on the job “simply because they don’t want to stop working, and that is fine,” says Armstrong. “I have also seen people who simply cannot wait to leave.”

Nearly six in 10 working Americans want to keep working past traditional retirement age, according to a 2017 Gallup poll. That can mean working part time, or taking on a less-stressful position. The most important thing is to have ongoing conversations with your spouse, and know where you stand financially before you call it quits.

Click below for the other articles in the March 2019 Senior Spirit







Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-you-shouldnt-retire-when-your-spouse-does-1542639479
https://considerable.com/should-you-retire-at-the-same-time-as-your-spouse/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2014/09/03/should-couples-retire-at-the-same-or-at-different-times/#2307ee76cedd
http://www.gcbaonline.com/questions/why-you-and-your-spouse-probably-shouldnt-retire-together
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15579336.2002.11770247
https://www.fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_com/documents/pr/couples-fact-sheet.pdf
https://www.nber.org/papers/w24226
https://www.nber.org/papers/w24429.pdf
https://www.shrm.org
https://www.kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2017-section-6-worker-and-employer-contributions-for-premiums/


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Ways to Generate Passive Income in Retirement



Older adults can use money or skills they already have to earn revenue that doesn’t require constant effort.

Wouldn’t it be great to know that while you’re at the grocery store or doing the laundry, you’re making money? That’s the idea behind passive income, which is money that comes in even though you’re not actively involved.

One way to create passive income is to put your money to work for you. Strategies are available for various asset levels, including someone with $100 in the bank. You can find new ways to diversify your investments through innovative internet companies, or even make money on stock you already own.

We also found several methods to get paid for “jobs” that are activities you already do, or that generate a revenue stream from work you do once. Some are incredibly easy, and others require a little more effort upfront.

Whatever your situation, it’s a great feeling to watch your net worth rise while you sit back and enjoy life.

Strategy One: Put Your Money to Work


  • Earn more interest. If you have cash sitting in an account earning less than 1 percent, you need to move your money. The advent of online banking has made it easy to link bank accounts, so you can keep using the checking account and ATM at your local branch. Move your savings to a high-yield account elsewhere so inflation isn’t robbing you blind.   CIT bank has a high-yield savings account that is currently paying 2.45 percent interest. You won’t get rich, but why pass up free money? Another great choice is Ally Bank, which offers a 2.20 percent yield and can set you up with a free checking account and low-cost brokerage. Both banks offer CDs which pay closer to 2.75 percent, depending on how much you invest.
  • Make peer-to-peer loans at Lending Club. Shake things up by making some peer-to-peer loans for as little as $25 each and earn up to about 10 percent. Can a loan go bad? There’s always that chance, although each loan is vetted. So if you have $2,500 to invest, you could diversify by putting it into 100 different loans.
  • Crowdfund real estate with Fundrise. Boasting annual returns of between 8.7 and 12.4 percent, real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise offers attractive yields to the average investor. Start with as little as $500 in the Fundrise Starter Portfolio. The company chooses real estate projects for their potential to generate cash. 
  • Use a low-cost brokerage. If you’re paying more than $5 per trade, you can save some money. (Caveat: The cost to make a trade is just one part of the cost associated with investment accounts. Funds and advisors charge fees as well. Some are hidden, such as the fees associated with mutual funds.) Check out free trades at M1 Finance, Robinhood and Fidelity. Or go with a more traditional brokerage, like Schwab or Vanguard, that offers a complete range of services, including many extremely low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for a nominal or zero trade fee. . You can get started for $100 or less at any of these institutions.
  • Provide veteran business bonds. Streetshares facilitates peer-to-peer lending for veterans and their communities. You loan the money for veterans (mostly) to capitalize their business in return for a 5 percent flat rate return. The minimum to start is only $25, and accredited investors (generally those with over a million in assets, but check here for exact rules) can earn more.
  • Refinance your mortgage. Rates are still historically low, and it might make sense for you to stretch out that mortgage and invest the monthly savings. Use a mortgage calculator to run the numbers and see if it makes sense in your situation.
  • Lend to real estate developers. Crowdfunding platform PeerStreet allows you to select debt deals on individual real estate projects nationwide for a $1,000 minimum investment. You can spread that money around to multiple deals and expect returns in the 6 to 11 percent range. Automatic investment selection is built into the system. This program is available only to accredited investors at this time.
  • Get dividends. Many stocks pay you to own them. The payments are called dividends, and you can diversify by owning a group of these dividend payers in a low-cost ETF. Better yet, buy them in your IRA account and avoid paying taxes on your dividends. 
  • Invest in solar energy. Based in Colorado, Wunder Capital allows you to invest in large-scale solar energy projects, rather than individual companies. Their diversified portfolio has been returning about 6 to 7.5 percent on minimum investments of $1,000 to accredited investors only. 
  • Learn about litigation finance. Legal investments include pre-settlement financing, legal advertising and post-settlement financing. Listen to Yieldstreet CEO Milind Mehere explain the concept on the Invest Like a Boss podcast.  Accredited investors earn from 8 to 10 percent on these investments. 
  • Own rental properties. You may have thought the real estate game wasn’t for you, that it was too complicated and time-consuming, or that you would have to lose money for years upfront because of how expensive your city or suburb has become. Turnkey rental property broker Roofstock has changed the dynamic.  This company finds cash-flowing rental properties in areas where the numbers work. You buy a single-family property with a tenant and choose from a selection of available property managers in that area. Go to the site to check their current inventory for free.

Strategy Two: Use What You Have


  • Hack your house. If you own a home, you can probably engage in the art of house hacking, or making money off of it. Do you have an extra bedroom, or a basement you’re not using? Are you still in the home you raised your family in, and you don’t really want to downsize? Rent out space to pay the mortgage or put some cash in your pocket every month.  You can either draw up a rental agreement and have someone move in, or use a site like AirBnB to rent by the day or week. The first option is less labor-intensive, since you only have to clean when your tenant moves out. The second option may allow you to make a little more money per month, depending on how booked you are. Some homeowners prefer having the same person in their house, and others like a constant flow of guests. You might also want to take a look at The Freebird Club, a homestay site for international travelers over 50. Host others or exchange lodging to save big on vacation accommodations.
  • Bump your savings. There is actually an app called Bumped that gives you free stock when you shop. There are no fees, and you can link a debit or credit card to the app and still get your rewards. Sound too good to be true? Currently, there is a wait list, which you can join online.
  • Sell your own designs. If you’re a creative type, or you are naturally funny, then this could be the answer for your own little income stream. Use a platform like CafePress to sell your designs for everything from t-shirts to mugs. Upload the design one time, and CafePress does the rest. 
  • Start a blog. It takes a substantial amount of time to create enough quality blog content to attract a sizable following, but it can be done. If you’re passionate about a topic lots of others would want to read about and search, then it may be time to get moving. Blogs make money by serving ads, offering products for purchase or providing click-throughs to affiliate links.  Don’t expect to get significant returns for a few years. 
  • Put together an online course. So you realize that you’re an expert at, say, weaving horsehair (yes, it’s a thing called “hitching”) and you want to pass on the art. Why not create an online course or video to teach your craft? Online marketplace Udemy is the most popular platform, and comes with a built-in audience. However, it takes a big bite out of the profits and controls pricing. If you already have a website, Teachable may be a better bet. It’s an end-to-end solution that you can post on your own site.

Sources:
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2018-02-06/6-ways-to-earn-passive-income-when-youre-retired
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2016-08-03/4-ways-to-create-a-passive-income-in-retirement
https://www.retirebeforedad.com/passive-income-ideas/
https://www.goodfinancialcents.com/passive-income-ideas/



Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Apple Watch Series 4 for Older Adults



The latest iteration of the Apple Watch made waves with its inclusion of a fall sensor. Should every older adult have one?


Fall Detection

The Apple Watch Series 4 has health capabilities to interest many older adults and their children, who may want them to have the technology. The fall detector, which is automatically enabled on wearers age 65 and up, activates after a hard fall. A message appears on the screen asking if help is needed. If the wearer doesn’t respond, an SOS call will automatically result.

Some amateur researchers have tried to fake falls (on a couch) to test the device, but the watch isn’t fooled. On the other hand, one wearer on a soccer team (who truly took hard falls) had to constantly let the device know all was well.

Apple’s disclaimer says: “Apple Watch cannot detect all falls. The more physically active you are, the more likely you are to trigger Fall Detection due to high impact activity that can appear to be a fall.”

The fall detection system might not be perfect, but it sounds like a great start.

Electrocardiogram and Health

While every version of the Watch measures your pulse rate, the Series 4 is the first to add an FDA-cleared electrocardiogram (EKG). Hold down the round button on the side of the watch for about 30 seconds, and you’ll get a read on your heart’s electrical signals. While “clearance” is not the same as “approval,” Apple’s research claimed to detect atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) an impressive 99 percent of the time. Indeed, news reports are coming out about users who went to their doctor after a troublesome EKG reading and had a problem confirmed.

People with heart conditions or anxiety can have the Watch set to alert them about a high heart rate. That’s their cue to take it easy and perhaps take medication. The feature can benefit healthy people by reporting how often they’ve raised their exercise rate.

The Watch continues to get useful upgrades for personal health monitoring. In addition to the heart rate monitor, it will let users know how often each day they stand rather than sit and report their daily activity level. Apple has made enormous investments in health care, so expect continuing evolution on this front.

What’s Coming Next?

At about 4 percent market penetration, there’s plenty of room for the Apple Watch to grow. And grow it will with partnerships such as one with medical device company Zimmer Biomet, one of the biggest players among reconstructive products manufacturers.

More than a million people get knee and hip replacement surgery in the U.S. every year. Zimmer Biomet and Apple are working to combine a new app, along with health-tracking data from the smartwatch, to figure out why certain patients recover faster than others. In addition, the two companies are collaborating on a clinical study.

The app is called mymobility, and it guides people through their rehabilitation experience to improve outcomes. It contains educational resources such as exercise videos, and it allows patients to contact their care team with questions and concerns.

Apple developed the first smartwatch with an EKG sensor, and it’s on the hunt for more medical applications to further establish itself in the $3 trillion U.S. health care sector. Apple and Biomet enrolled 10,000 people in the study, a significant sample size. The partnership heralds “one of the largest evidence-gathering clinical studies in orthopedic history,” according to Zimmer Biomet CEO Bryan Hanson.

In another development, Apple is partnering with University of North Carolina researchers to track binge eating.

Dick Tracy

When we were kids, it was a toss-up which was cooler: Dick Tracy’s watch phone or Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone. Who knew then that one day, we could imitate one of our heroes?

Older adults aren’t always in the habit of carrying a phone everywhere, so having one on their wrist is appealing. “The good thing is you can’t lose it,” says Sandra Lew, 75.

However, it can be tricky for older fingers to use. With a 30 percent increase in screen size from its predecessor, the Series 4 has a vastly improved display. Incoming calls were a snap for older adults to pick up. Just press the green phone button that pops up after your watch rings and gently taps your wrist. No more missed calls.

But outbound calls might be more problematic. It’s hard for unsteady fingers and dimming eyes to press the right button on a screen that, while larger, is still only 1.6 inches across. “I even find my iPhone screen too small,” says Jane Salzfass, 73.

It also helps if the older adult is used to an iPhone and recognizes the icon for calling. “You’re going to have to know what those icons mean,” says 67-year-old Rhona Lishinky. If an older adult isn’t somewhat tech-savvy to start with, the Watch may not get used at all. On the other hand, Siri will place a call if you raise your wrist and say, “Call Tom.” Just press and hold the digital crown to summon voice assistance.


Decent volume is particularly important to aging adults. The speaker and microphone in the Series 4 have been placed left and right instead of on the same side, leading to a better audio response. The new Watch boasts a 50 percent louder speaker, too. It works great in quiet environments, like your home, but some users have found it difficult to hear Siri in a noisier environment, like while riding in a car.

Steep Price 

So, how much is one of these gadgets going to set you back? The price floor is $399, moving up to over $500 for a bevy of options, including larger sizes, optional cellular connectivity, and a steel case or fancy straps.

Reviews are uniformly positive. Many older adults may benefit from the device for its fall-detection capability alone. The Watch’s many other features, however, may prove to be more easily adopted by adults who are on the younger side of old age. It will be exciting to see what Apple comes up with next.

Click below for the other articles in the March 2019 Senior Spirit








Sources:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/14/unitedhealthcare-gives-free-apple-watches-if-walking-goals-met.html 
https://www.techradar.com/reviews/apple-watch-4-review
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/14/apple-aetna-secret-meetings-to-bring-apple-watch-to-millions-more.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/15/apple-and-zimmer-biomet-bring-apple-watch-to-people-getting-new-knees.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/10/03/apple-watch-faces-its-toughest-challenge-yet-grandma/?utm_term=.3bdfce341c3b
https://www.cnet.com/reviews/apple-watch-series-4-review/



Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Three Things Make Older Adults Feel In Control


Clues for improved physical, mental and emotional health are found in new research.


A new study has identified three factors that are crucial to older adults’ best health outcomes. Psychology researchers found that sleep, mood and stress are critical components to older adults having a feeling of control over their lives, and this sense of control had powerful ramifications for their physical, mental and emotional health.

"We found that sleep, mood and stress are all important factors in determining a sense of control and in whether older adults feel they can do the things they want to do," says Shevaun Neupert, a professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. "This finding is important because when older adults begin to lose their sense of autonomy, it can lead to changes in behavior that adversely affect their health and well-being.”

"We found that sleep efficacy - or the belief that one can get a good night's sleep - was associated with better control beliefs," Neupert says.

"We also found that positive affect was good for an individual's control beliefs, while negative affect was bad," says Shenghao Zhang, a Ph.D. student at NC State and first author of the paper. "In other words, being in a good mood made people feel better about their competence and control, while being in a bad mood made people feel worse about those things.

"Lastly, we found that stressful events on one day had an adverse effect on an individual's subsequent control beliefs," Zhang says. "These results suggest that the adverse effect of stressful events can last for more than a day. It would be interesting to conduct additional work to determine how long the effects of stress resonate in regard to control beliefs.”

"We know there are things people can do to improve their mood and to improve their sleep," Neupert says. "And while sleep and mood are things most people think are important, this study highlights a very specific reason that they are important.

"When people think they have little or no control in their lives, they may stop doing some of the everyday things that are important for self-care because they believe those things don't matter," Neupert says. "By acting to improve mood and sleep, older adults may better retain their sense of control and better maintain their quality of life.”

Bring Down Stress

Harvard Health has some tips to reduce stress, and help you sleep better, too. If insomnia is a problem, a special type of cognitive behavioral therapy, called CBT-i, may be your best bet. It works to remove ingrained patterns of self-defeating behavior and replace them with new habits. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommends the therapy as the first-line treatment for insomnia.

Other types of stress come with negative impacts on health. "Stress increases blood sugar and can make diabetes worse. It can create high blood pressure and cause insomnia. It can also make people become anxious, worried, depressed, or frustrated," says Dr. Ann Webster, a health psychologist at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Chronic stress should be treated as soon as it’s identified.

Here are suggestions for combatting other types of stress, as reported in the Harvard Special Health Report Stress Management:

  • Consider whether you might benefit from a course in assertiveness training that would help you state your wishes and handle conflicts.
  • Join a support group if you are dealing with bereavement.
  • Think about getting a pet—both the pluses and minuses. Several studies support the stress-lowering effects of having a dog, cat, or other animal companion. But don't forget to take into consideration the physical and financial challenges of pet ownership.
  • Attend a mind-body program. These can help at any age. Some are specifically designed for seniors. Others may focus on chronic pain or specific ailments, such as heart disease.
  • Engage in regular physical activity. If you are infirm, ask your doctor whether you might benefit from certain types of exercise, such as tai chi, which enhances balance. Many other kinds of physical activity improve your health, lift your mood, and reduce stress, too.

How will you know if there’s too much stress in your life? It can show up in a variety of ways, including:

  • tension headaches
  • back pain
  • indigestion
  • heart palpitations
  • poor concentration
  • indecisiveness
  • crying
  • irritability
  • edginess

It’s impossible to avoid stress in your life. But by taking steps to neutralize the things that are causing anxiety, you can move toward living your best life every day.

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month


March 1 - Ron Howard, actor and director

Remember sitting transfixed in front of your old black-and-white TV, eyes glued to the screen for The Andy Griffith Show? Ron Howard played Opie Taylor, the kind, freckle-faced son of Sheriff Andy in mythical Mayberry, where no problem was too big to handle with folksy southern flair.

What you my not know is that Howard was also already starring in films (The Music Man and others). The child prodigy went on to star in the role of Richie Cunningham on the sitcom Happy Days, a part he played for seven years. But he continued making films at the same time, and made his directorial debut in 1977 at the age of 22.

In 1980, Howard called it quits with Happy Days to focus on directing. His credits include Cocoon, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. The latter earned him the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture. The accolades didn’t stop there, as he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2003, and has a pair of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television and film industries.

Howard is the co-chair of film and TV production company Imagine Entertainment. Imagine has produced several films and a handful of television programs, most notably Arrested Development, which Howard also narrated.

Howard married writer Cheryl Alley in 1975 and the couple has four grown children, two of whom followed their father into acting careers.


March 8 - David Wilkie, Olympic swimmer

Wilkie is the only person to have held British, American, Commonwealth, European, world and Olympic swimming titles at the same time… and it’s likely he’ll be the only one to ever achieve that feat!

Wilkie was born in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) to Scottish parents. As a child, he learned to swim at the outdoor Colombo Swimming Club in Sri Lanka, an island off the southeast tip of India famous for its ancient Buddhist ruins and sandy beaches. When Wilkie got to the ripe old age of 11, his parents shipped him back to Scotland for boarding school in the British tradition.

Fortunately, he joined one of Scotland’s most famous swim clubs, the Warrender Baths Club, where he began to hone in on the breaststroke under one of Britain’s leading coaches.

Specializing in one stroke spurred him to achievements that warranted being chosen for the elite Scottish Training Squad. Wilkie shattered the British record for the 200 meter breaststroke at an international match against Denmark as a 16-year-old. He broke his own record a year later at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in front of a home crowd in Edinburgh.

As famous as he’d already become in his homeland, Wilkie’s international fame started in Miami, Florida. As a member of the University of Miami’s vaunted Hurricanes swim team, Wilkie won gold at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada for the 200 meter breaststroke. In setting a new world record for the event, he prevented the dominant U.S. men’s swimming team from sweeping gold in all the main events.


March 11 - Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior

Norton gained fame as the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of the Interior. She held the post from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush, after serving as Colorado’s Attorney General. 

As a libertarian in the 70s, Norton climbed the ladder and very nearly became the party’s national director in 1980. Later, she was influenced by thinkers including writer Ayn Rand to switch affiliation to the Republican Party.

As a refresher, the Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, including oversight for agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Controversially, Norton joined Royal Dutch Shell as a general counsel in exploration and production immediately after she left office.

As of 2017, Norton was working in consulting firm Norton Regulatory Strategies, a company dealing with environmental regulations. 

Click below for the other articles in the March 2019 Senior Spirit









Sources:


https://www.wikipedia.org

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

New Cholesterol Recommendations Focus on Personalized Care



New guidelines focus on your personal risk, LDL target levels and new drugs for those likely to get cardiovascular disease.


New cholesterol recommendations from the American Heart Association, backed by the American College of Cardiology, support the treatment of older patients with high cholesterol who have previously been left untreated.

"High cholesterol treatment is not one size fits all, and this guideline strongly establishes the importance of personalized care," says Dr. Michael Valentine, president of the American College of Cardiology.

"Over the past five years, we've learned even more about new treatment options and which patients may benefit from them," he said. "By providing a treatment roadmap for clinicians, we are giving them the tools to help their patients understand and manage their risk and live longer, healthier lives.”

What is Cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell of your body. It is used to make vitamin D, hormones and compounds that assist with digestion. Every cell membrane needs cholesterol, which supports intracellular transport, nerve conduction and cell signaling.

You can get cholesterol from animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy items like milk and cheese, but you don’t need these foods to get cholesterol. Although your body can make all the cholesterol it needs, many of us consume too much cholesterol and struggle to keep our cholesterol at safe levels.

To reach every cell in your body, cholesterol travels through the bloodstream while attached to two types of lipoprotein: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). In general, LDL is known as the “bad” cholesterol, while HDL is considered “good.” LDL cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries, increasing the chance you’ll get heart disease because the heart muscle must work harder to pump blood through narrower channels. Cholesterol can be lowered through diet, exercise and/or medication.

Previous Guidelines Inadequate


The new guidelines replace those from five years ago. Those previous recommendations were troubling on numerous accounts, according to Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. The 2013 advice omitted components such as family history, overemphasized risks associated with statin drug therapy at lower thresholds, and rejected target levels for LDL cholesterol, which provided finite goals for patients.
People with LDL levels of 100 or below "tend to have lower rates of heart disease and stroke, supporting a 'lower is better' philosophy," according to a statement issued by the medical organizations regarding the new guidelines. A level of LDL above 160 is considered “very high.” The new guidelines suggest that high-risk patients aim to lower this number below 70. Patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke may need to add another drug if statins don’t do the trick. The medication Ezetimibe, also available as a generic, can be used. Patients at extremely high risk can add a PCSK9 inhibitor.

This new attitude encourages medical professionals and patients to discuss a broad array of risk factors, including family history and ethnicity, and the presence of other conditions such as metabolic syndrome, premature menopause and chronic kidney disease.

Cholesterol at Every Age


Previously, high cholesterol in older patients was often left untreated. However, the new recommendations recognize the importance of healthy cholesterol levels at every age.

“They now acknowledge that it might be appropriate to treat older people,” says Nissen. “Today’s 75-year-old can live a long time.”

High-risk children can be treated as young as age two. Most youngsters should have their first cholesterol test between the ages of nine and 11, followed by another test between the ages of 17 and 21. The accumulation of cholesterol, even at these early ages, can have a big impact on the likelihood of heart disease later in life.

Does Cholesterol Matter for Older Adults?


While it is well known that cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, some studies have shown that it does not increase the risk of dying from heart disease in adults in their 70s or 80s. So can older adults stock up on deep-fried butter balls?

Not so fast, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of the Lipid Clinic at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “If someone has made it to that age and hasn’t had problems from their cholesterol, they may have gotten lucky with genes or other protective factors,” he says. But high cholesterol isn’t harmless, and that luck could run out.

Managing high cholesterol in older adults can be complicated by other prescription drugs that could interact negatively with the statins that are usually prescribed to lower cholesterol. In some patients, the side effects could outweigh the benefits of statins. “It requires extra care and discussion to figure out the best decision for each patient,” Martin says.

Coronary Calcium Artery Score Controversial


However, Nissen does have a criticism of the new guidelines in one regard: the suggestion to use a coronary calcium artery score to help determine the need to lower cholesterol in patients for whom the need is unclear. 
The score highlights plaque buildup in arteries via a CT scan, which at the Cleveland Clinic where Nissen works, can run between $500 and $1,000 for one that includes angiography.
"You're radiating somebody to decide whether to use a drug that costs as little as $3 a month, and you're spending a lot of money to do it," Nissen says. "I just don't think it's prudent.”

Heart Disease Is a Killer


Heart disease is lethal. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart attacks and strokes end the lives of more than 836,000 Americans every year, according to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. 

“Having high cholesterol at any age increases that risk significantly," says Dr. Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Association. "That's why it's so important that even at a young age, people follow a heart-healthy lifestyle and understand and maintain healthy cholesterol levels."

Total cholesterol

HDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol

Triglycerides

 Good
Less than 200
40 or higher
Less than 100
Less than 149
 Borderline
200–239
N/A
130–159
150–199
 High
240 or higher
N/A
160 or higher
200 or higher
 Low
N/A
less than 40
N/A
N/A


Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit









Sources:
www.cnn.com/2018/11/10/health/cholesterol-guidelines-aha-bn/index.html
www.sigmaaldrich.com/life-science/cell-biology/cell-biology-products.html?TablePage=9563178
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Are Changes in Government Benefits for Older Americans on the Horizon?



With Democrats back in the House majority, will they and Republicans agree to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? Is there any chance that hearing, vision and dental will get insurance coverage?


Older Americans are in a uniquely powerful position to influence public policy. They are the fastest-growing age group in the country, maintaining a 75 percent growth rate versus less than 10 percent for other age groups. They also vote more than any other demographic, and more consistently.

The sheer number of older voters gives them a strong voice, making Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid crucial issues in political discourse, regardless of party affiliation. Older adults are not enthused about cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

There is speculation about a meeting of the minds between Republicans and Democrats on numerous policies of concern to older adults. Some proposals are already in place and Republican and Democrat lawmakers may find room for compromise in certain areas.

Social Security


CA significant number of retirees count on Social Security for their living expenses. According to the Social Security Administration, about 43 percent of singles and 21 percent of married couples rely on the program for 90 percent or more of their income. Social Security keeps millions of older Americans out of poverty, but the funds it depends on are expected to be depleted by 2034. A recent government report suggests that benefits are expected to then drop by about 20 percent.

Congressman John Larson (D-Conn.), chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security and co-chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus, has a bill to both expand the program’s benefits by setting a floor of minimum payments and to raise revenue. Democrats will likely propose funding options, including a restored estate tax and raising the earnings cap (the maximum amount of annual earnings on which you pay Social Security taxes) beyond the 2019 ceiling of $132,900, as well as asking both workers and employers to pay an increased percentage of wages.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed changing the annual cost of living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index to lower, “chained” adjustments that factor in substitution bias. Substitution bias means that consumers buy less expensive items to lessen inflation’s impact on their standard of living, for example, buying chicken instead of beef. As a result, inflation estimates are lower than if these substitutions were not considered. Such a change would reduce increases tied to inflation, with effects compounding the longer you receive benefits.

Medicare


Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to work together to strengthen Medicare. The bipartisan Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2018 was signed into law under Republicans last year, notably allowing Medicare Advantage programs to offer social benefits such as wheelchair ramps and adult day care coverage for the first time, among other provisions. However, these services are not available from traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Medicare funding is projected to come up short by 2026. Republicans have proposed a plan to give older adults a voucher-type option to enroll in private health plans, while also putting other changes on the table to cut $537 billion from Medicare. Expect Democrats to push against new options and budget proposals to cut Medicare, and instead float recommendations to maintain or expand services. 

Medicare for All


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently agreed on hearings for “Medicare for all”, a plan for single-payer Medicare that would cover all Americans. The House Budget Committee is putting together an analysis, with the Democrats’ goal to “defend and enhance what’s in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and then move towards Medicare for all,” says Rep Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

The promise of Medicare for all is free health care, meaning no more premiums, deductibles or copays, and coverage for vision, dental and hearing. Of course, nothing is really free, and Republicans oppose the prospect of funding the program (including increased taxes), as well as its Socialist aspect, and the loss of private insurance plans.

Progressive Democrats are pushing for a vote in Congress, but party chairmen have made it clear that other health care issues have priority in 2019. What is likely to be more important is how much momentum the movement can gather as the 2020 elections grow near.

Medicaid


To recap, Medicaid is a cooperative insurance program between the federal government and the states that covers about 75 million low-income adults and children. The Feds set required minimum standards and benefits. States may broaden the benefits for their residents, including instituting the Medicaid expansion program under the ACA, but can't cut back on the federal minimum services.

In the midterm elections, Medicaid expansion was on the table in several states. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah approved ballot initiatives to broaden the program, and Maine voters elected a new governor, pushing out an ardent opponent of Medicaid expansion. Virginia increased support to the state’s Medicaid program.

Other states-- Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana and New Hampshire -- have started, or are scheduled to start, work requirement programs to qualify for expanded Medicaid, and seven more are pursuing the idea.

Recently, reports came out that Republican lawmakers are again working on legislation to institute block grants for Medicaid. Currently, whoever qualifies for the program is covered. Under block grants, states would each get a lump sum from the federal government to manage the program as they would like. Republicans argue that block granting would increase efficiency and cap costs. Democrats foresee inadequate funding and loss of coverage for millions of Americans.

Other Programs


Protections afforded older Americans under the ACA, such as not being forced to pay an age penalty for health insurance, will likely remain in place. Expect popular health care protections, such as coverage of preexisting conditions, to be debated and potentially supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

More than half a million Americans have no access to a retirement savings plan with their employer, according to AARP research, which shows that such a plan increases the likelihood of employees saving money significantly. Rep. Richie Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, has proposed the Automatic Retirement Plan Act to require more employers to establish a 401(k) or 403(b) to cover all employees, among additional provisions.

Other ideas on the floor are to expand the system to cover new safe harbor rules, increase minimum default contributions, enhance matching contributions and create a special tax credit to encourage participation.

Both parties may be likely to compromise. In the next two years, we may see a retirement policy that benefits more older adults under the age of 70 who are working and still eligible to contribute to qualified (tax-deferred) employer retirement plans. 


Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit








Sources:
www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2018/midterms-affect-older-americans.html
www.forbes.com/sites/teresaghilarducci/2018/11/11/how-the-midterm-elections-may-steer-retirement-policy/#7dd89bc951f1
www.marketwatch.com/story/the-midterm-elections-could-greatly-affect-your-retirement-2018-11-06
www.ncoa.org/blog/how-the-midterm-elections-will-affect-aging-policy/
www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/011317/how-have-comfortable-retirement-social-security-alone.asp
www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/11/10/these-5-charts-explain-who-voted-how-in-the-2018-midterm-election/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ef2035e6f6db
www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/03/13/new-law-broadens-chronic-care-through-medicare/#70c5c8a61d4f
http://factmyth.com/factoids/the-us-is-the-only-very-highly-developed-country-without-universal-healthcare/ 
www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/03/13/new-law-broadens-chronic-care-through-medicare/
www.investors.com/politics/editorials/medicare-for-all-democrats-midterm-elections/
www.rollcall.com/news/politics/democrats-medicare-for-all-tread-lightly
www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/three-deep-red-states-vote-to-expand-medicaid/2018/11/07/6586ae58-e1dc-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?utm_term=.ec2ea66e54c0
https://khn.org/news/block-grants-medicaid-faq/ 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Connecting the Generations


Innovative programs across the country are maximizing the many benefits to all when generations mix. 


Often in life, we find ourselves divided by age. In school, then at work and again in retirement communities. Many talk about helping older adults, but it’s also younger people who need help. Young, old and in-between are meant to live together and interact.

For instance, older people traditionally teach and take care of the young. The relationship benefits everyone. Parents get a little time off and receive emotional support and advice from older adults who have already raised a generation. Older adults get a second chance to spend time, a resource that many have more of, with children. They can model and teach empathy, character and unconditional love. Children remind their older relatives and friends  how to play, be in the moment and not worry about an end goal. They encourage joy, hope and love while providing an endless source of diversion.

As many families are spread across the miles, many communities are rethinking the idea of separating age groups, coming up with innovative ways to combine generations for the benefit of all. Let’s look at some successful programs around the country.

Common Unity pairs high schoolers in Topeka, Kansas, with adult mentors who help them navigate basic life skills. Often city employees, the mentors, teach financial literacy and budgeting, and assist the kids with applying to colleges or trade schools. They may also take part in community service projects together.

The program began at Highland Park High School. City officials are eager to see it spread across Topeka so that every child of high school age has a mentor to guide them to adulthood.

Fostering Hope is the brainchild of pediatrician Dr. Angela Carron, who left medicine after 21 years when research showed the treatment she was providing child abuse victims didn’t work. She asked herself if unconditional love could become a program.

“A large system and talk therapy aren’t designed to provide what young people need most—stability and long-term connections with at least three people who are irrationally crazy about them,” Carron says. Give kids that, she added, and it will make “all the difference between thriving and not.”

Older volunteers from faith communities around Colorado Springs, Colorado, serve as extended family for foster families. They may take children to the library, help them learn to drive or guide them in how to find affordable housing—all while providing that essential component of love without qualifiers. Some adult volunteers stick with kids from infancy to young adulthood.

Does it work? While 20 percent of foster kids nationally graduate from high school, almost all the kids mentored through Fostering Hope do. Plus, these children are three times more likely to be adopted than other teens in foster care.

Nuns and Nones forms a bond between two groups: religious sisters and Millennials, who are likely to check “none” on the Census form’s religious affiliation box. The sisters share wisdom, sacred spaces and a passion for social issues, while the Millennials find mentors for tackling social problems like economic inequality.

“We’re pioneering something the world desperately needs,” says Milicent Johnson, a Millennial. “Two groups that you would think are totally opposite—nuns and millennials—coming together and having the most beautiful, candid, soul-bearing, life-altering conversations. I think we can help inspire other communities to try to begin to talk more to each other.”

The group spreads its message in several ways, including local gatherings, shared social issues work, spiritual practice and co-living residences.

Read to Me International’s (RTMI) Haku Mo’olelo program is a pioneer project with the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state’s eight correctional facilities. Older adults volunteer to help incarcerated women write, illustrate and publish storybooks for their children.

The books are sent home, together with audio recordings, to help children remember and connect with their mothers. The sudden separation of a child and parent can be deeply traumatic for both and the program maintains connectedness and builds literacy in both moms and children.

Seeing-i2i.com is an unusual program out of Gainesville, Virginia, that pairs low-income teens with older adults who are willing to learn a non-violent, sports-focused video game. The intergenerational friendship has a mentorship aspect as the older adult helps the youth with college applications.

The program is also creating job experiences for the teens. In the first half of 2018, 600 companies in 28 states created 2,500 Esports jobs. Interestingly, nearly half of adults over 50 play video games.

Providence Mount St. Vincent Assisted Living’s Intergenerational Learning Center has been inundated with visits from people around the globe since being featured in a 2015 documentary, Present Perfect, by filmmaker Evan Briggs. The film features the daily interactions among the day care center’s 125 children and the assisted living facility’s 400 adult clients with an average age of 92.

Children in the day care make daily visits to the older adults to share music, art, a meal or just a greeting. The connections are more than the sum of their parts, according to Marie Hoover, director of the learning center for infants to 5-year-olds.

"The activity a teacher may have planned is nowhere near as important as the love between the two age groups," she says. "When I talk to people who want to bring this model to their hometowns, I emphasize the importance of that. The activities are the vehicle to spread the love.”

The Intergenerational School in Cleveland, Ohio, is the result of a geriatric neurologist married to a developmental psychologist, naturally. Peter and Catherine Whitehouse launched the charter school with the idea that learning shouldn’t be segregated by age.

"We reject the idea that age should be how you organize learning. Learning is a lifelong process and we should invite learners of all ages to participate in learning activities," says Peter Whitehouse. The school's first intergenerational program—a one-on-one reading program—continues to be the most important.

"Because of their circumstances, many of the children don't have early literacy skills," Whitehouse says. "We train our volunteers that their job is not to teach reading skills, it's to teach a love of books and to use books as a way to have rich conversations."

Maple Knoll Village is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, where youngsters are a common sight throughout the 54-acre campus, thanks to the Maple Knoll Montessori Child Center located there.

Along with older residents, kids garden, learn carpentry or blow bubbles. The kids like to visit their “Grandfriends” for weekly art classes. Children assume teaching roles as they help residents with dementia play matching games or put together puzzles. The kids benefit from added resources such as the pottery studio and radio station. The constant contact helps the children get over any reluctance to approach older adults.

"Many times I've had parents say that their child doesn't ignore older people when they're out and about in public, and that the children are more helpful and empathetic. The interactions bring an awareness of older adults to them,” says Meri Fox, director of the center.

ONEgeneration is a nonprofit pairing adult and child day care program participants for activities like cooking, crafting or rocking a baby. With daily interaction, both children and adults refer to each other as “neighbors.”

"You really do see the benefit to both populations. It's a very special program," says Anna Swift, adult program director, whose own son attended the child care center. She says that when their older adult population, who often feels very dependent, interacts with the children, “they get that adult role back, they feel needed, and have the opportunity to teach and instruct.”

One man with early onset Alzheimer’s connected with a little girl, reading to her and helping her get to sleep at nap time. His wife claimed the program had “given her husband back” to her. “We have dinner conversation again,” she said.

The program in Van Nuys, California enrolls 120 children and 100 adults with an average age of 85.

The Tiny Tiger Intergenerational Center in Marshfield, Wisconsin, arose out of high school student demand for a facility where they could gain hands-on experience caring for older adults and children. The child care center and adult day care opened six years later. Students can volunteer and work at both facilities to prepare for careers in human services.

A welcome but unexpected benefit arose when adults in day care started visiting the children, whether to rock a baby to sleep, color with a toddler or read a book. 

Activities to Connect Generations


Cooking. Everyone likes to eat, and older adults have decades of kitchen experience to pass down. Invite a group of people of all different ages over for a pasta party or pancake cook-off.

Game playing. Some older adults are up for a summer game of tag, or Twister indoors. Almost anyone enjoys a card or board game where skills of patience, fairness and taking turns are inevitably part of the process. Teens can show older adults how much fun video games can be.

Physical activity. Something as simple as taking the dog for a walk can lead to great conversations. How about a yoga class or shooting some hoops? Building a snowman, sledding or riding the lazy river at a recreation center are just a few of hundreds of activities different generations can enjoy together.

Classes. Partner up for an art class, nature walk or library event. Learn to cook, sew or change the oil. Learn Pilates or the right way to brush your teeth … almost anything is available on YouTube for free if you can’t find a local offering.

Projects. Make a quilt, build a rocket or create jewelry together. Plant a garden, decorate a window or make a scene in a shoebox. Paint a room together or enlist youngsters to help with your shed-building endeavor.

Outings. Ask an older neighbor to play mini golf or see a movie. Take an acquaintance out for a smoothie or coffee. Invite someone to sit with you at a dog park or fountain to watch others or stroll along a street in a pretty neighborhood.

Writing to Cure Loneliness


Some older adults have no family or friends to connect with, a fact Marlene Brooks discovered the day she found a neighbor’s heartbreaking letter in her mailbox. It read:

Mrs. ?
Would you consider to become my friend. I’m 90 years old—live alone and all my friends have passed away. I am so lonesome and scared. Please—I pray for someone.

Brooks wrote her neighbor back, starting a rewarding relationship that continued even when her neighbor moved to assisted living. But she realized there were many other older adults like her neighbor, so she started a Facebook page called Pen Pals for Seniors

The site matches participants who would like to have a pen pal. You can also fill out a form to request a pen pal on behalf of an older adult.


"The child's need to explore and interact can alleviate the older adult’s boredom and loneliness, and the child's need for guidance can alleviate the older person’s helplessness," explains Jennifer Fredrick, career and technical education coordinator for the Marshfield School District.”

Additionally, the high schoolers get an opportunity for real-life learning, bestowing greater awareness and empathy. Classes in caregiving and life span development, combined with activities to connect generations and facilitate working with children and older adults, enable the teens to get a career jump on most youth their age.

Senior Housing with a Twist


Senior living has taken a new turn, thanks to a novel approach by Deerfield, a Lifespace Retirement Community in Urbandale, Iowa. Staff partnered with a nearby university to invite a college student to live in the community for a semester, offering free board and meals in exchange for musical performances.

“What I wanted to gain was stories that the people who live at Deerfield have to offer,” says Haley Jenkins, the Drake University senior who answered the call. “I really do love older people and sharing their life experiences, whether that be in college, or where they grew up or advice they want to give me. I really love that opportunity to learn and talk with them about the different experiences. And vice-versa, to share that with them.”

The classically trained vocalist and music major took her assignment seriously, purchasing books of oldies, jazz and big band to round out her repertoire in hopes of connecting with the older aduts. In turn, Deerfield hopes to achieve a sense of normalcy more like outside life and keep the residents from feeling isolated.

“It’s part of a healthy community to have people mixing from different generations,” says James Robinson, executive director of Deerfield. “It’s good for the older adults who live here at Deerfield to be able to share their hopes, dreams, ambitions with someone that is Haley’s age, who has her own hopes, dreams, ambitions. They overlap in a lot of ways.”

Exposing more people who are Haley’s age to senior living communities may get them thinking about a career option for themselves, muses Robinson. He hopes other senior communities can model what Deerfield is doing.

“I would encourage the industry to think about what successful aging means,” he says. “I think aging successfully means to have people of all ages together. They don’t necessarily have to be living together under one roof but have opportunities for people of all ages to come together. If that results in a relationship with a university like Deerfield has with Drake, that’s outstanding. From our perspective, it’s been well worth it.”

Click below for the other articles in the February 2019 Senior Spirit








Sources:
https://legacyproject.org/guides/intergenbenefits.html
www.nextavenue.org/gen2gen-encore-prize-finalists
https://blog.episcopalretirement.com/deupree-house-blog/how-seniors-can-connect-with-other-generations
www.aarp.org/livable-communities/livable-in-action/info-2016/building-community-bonds-across-generations.html
www.sageminder.com/Caregiving/Relationships/ConnectingGenerations.aspx
http://innovation.seniorhousingnews.com/why-senior-housing-is-welcoming-residents-of-all-ages/
www.nytimes.com/2016/01/05/health/a-twist-on-caring-for-a-parent-move-into-the-home.html?_r=1

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us