• October 8, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Staying Safe in Extreme Temperatures
    Extreme temperatures are among the worst silent killers, as we often underestimate how dangerous they are. Even in areas that are notorious for extreme temperatures, people will still be unaware of the warning signs from their health that life-threatening damage is being done from the extreme heat or cold. Furthermore, many seniors are unaware of the specific safety precautions they especially need to take when in extremely high or low temperatures. We’ll discuss some pointers to keep in mind when preparing for drastic weather changes.

    Extreme Heat

    The heat causes fatal health problems for nearly 200 people in the United States every summer. Most of those 200 people are over the age of 50, as the aging body is not able to handle extreme heat as well as younger bodies. Here are some ways to stay safe when the summer is just too hot.

    • Air Conditioning– When a heat wave hits, you’ll want to stay inside with air conditioning on. Staying indoors will keep your body from overheating and suffering health ailments like heat stroke and dehydration. If you don’t have air conditioning at your home, then try going to the movies, the mall, or the community center.
    • Avoid the Sun– Direct sunlight during extreme heat, only compounds the harmful effects. The sun can wear out the body much faster, to a point of losing orientation and fainting. If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade, or do your activity in the evening or early morning, when the sun is not as draining.
    • Hydration– Your body needs plenty of water to properly function. Once the body is dehydrated for an extended period of time, then organ failure becomes imminent. It is very important to drink fluids so as not to fall victim to the sun. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, as they will dry you out faster.
    • Wear Breathable Clothing– Your clothing can have a huge effect on your internal temperature. Wear clothing that will allow sweat to evaporate, which allows your body to keep cool. Loose, light colored clothing will go a long way in helping your body to withstand the effects. Wear a hat and sunglasses as well, to avoid sunburn and to protect your eyes.
    • Sunburn– As mentioned above, it can be very easy to get sunburn during extreme heat waves. Sunburn can exasperate skin cancer in the long term, and be very uncomfortable in the short term. Always wear a hat, preferably a wide brimmed hat, when outside. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Always put on sunscreen of at least SPF 30, preferably 50 for good protection against the sun. It is advisable to reapply the sunscreen every two hours that you are outside.
    • How to Cool Down– Take showers or baths that are cold or tepid, as the water will cool down the blood in your veins, which will in turn cool your entire body. Hand towels that are soaked in cold water or wrapped around ice packs and placed on areas where there is a lot of blood flow will also cool you down rapidly. Areas like the neck, wrists, and armpits are ideal.

    Extreme Cold

    The cold is just as taxing on the body as the extreme heat is. Seniors are much more susceptible to losing body heat in the cold compared to those who are younger. The aged body is also less aware of when it is getting too cold, meaning an older person may stay out in the cold longer than they’re actually safely able to do. Seniors can begin to suffer from hypothermia much sooner than younger people. Here are a few ways for seniors to stay safe in the extreme cold.

    • 68°F Minimum on Heater– Sometimes it’s tempting to turn the heater down to 60-65°F to save on utility costs, but this can be life threatening during extremely cold days. A heater lower than 68° will not properly heat the house, and as mentioned earlier, an older body does not signal the brain when it is too cold. A senior living alone could fall into fatal hypothermia, as they are not keeping their body warm enough to function properly.
    • Dress Warmly– Again, an older body will not warn you when it is too cold. If you don’t feel cold, you’ll still want to wear a sweater, long pants, and socks to keep warm. Keeping your body warm is of utmost importance to avoid hypothermia. Even when going to bed, be sure to be fully bundled.
    • Insulate the House– Make sure your windows are not drafty, and that they are shut tight and locked, curtains drawn. Install weather stripping if possible. A drafty house will sap out any heat from the heaters, raising utility bills and making it unsafe for you.
    • Stay Dry– If you go outside and get snow on you, be sure to change clothing as soon as possible as wet clothing saps you of your body heat.

    Be Prepared for Temperature Changes

    Aging makes regulating body temperature more challenging during hot and cold spells. Seasonal temperature changes and activities once taken for granted pose potential problems with declining reserves, chronic conditions, and medications. But with careful forethought, you can remain safe and healthy no matter the weather!

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  • September 28, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    How to Prepare an Emergency Disaster Kit
    Natural disasters are stressful for anyone, regardless of age. Unfortunately, if you’re a senior, they might present greater challenges for you. You may have less mobility, or poor health, making it a challenge for you to respond quickly. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for possible emergencies.

    This guide will cover a handy checklist of items to have and bring with you in the event of an emergency, as well as some advice on further resources.

    First things first, you’ll want to be aware of what risks are more common in the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, others to fires or snowstorms, for example. You’ll want to keep this in mind when considering what should go in your kit.

    Emergency Kit Checklist

    This is a basic overview of what every emergency kit should contain. Please visit Ready.gov to view the government’s comprehensive checklist, as well as how to maintain and store your kit.

    • Non-perishable foods (at least 3 days worth)
    • Can opener
    • Bottled water (if you have pets, pack generously)
    • Medication (a week’s worth)
    • Spare clothing and shoes
    • Pet food, if applicable
    • Spare keys to your home and car(s)
    • Glasses and spare contacts
    • Waterproof matches
    • Swiss army knife
    • First aid kit
    • Common toiletries (you can buy small travel kits at the grocery store for ease)
    • Emergency blankets (you can buy them in packs), as well as fabric blankets if desired
    • Cell phone charger
    • Spare hearing aid batteries, if applicable
    • Flashlight
    • Battery powered radio
    • Extra batteries
    • Moist towelettes and garbage bags
    • A backpack, tote, or other sturdy container for your kit

    Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources

    What happens when a disaster strikes in your area? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before the emergency takes place. This way, you won’t have to fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go.

    Most areas should have emergency shelter locations nearby. Identify those and write out a list of emergency contacts and addresses so that you have it all in one place. Keep this list safe inside your disaster kit. In addition to emergency shelter locations near you, you may want to also consider gathering contact information for your local:

    • Fire and police department
    • Hospitals
    • Water and power suppliers
    • Poison control

    Get Your Plan in Place

    The most pivotal part to surviving an emergency is having a solid plan. Write one that’s easy to follow and keep it somewhere accessible. When creating a plan, you may want to consider including information on:

    • A communication plan with your family and caregivers so that you won’t lose touch with the ones you love in any emergency.
    • Safe and easy escape routes in case of fire or flood. It’s best to have more than one route option figured out.
    • What to do next after escaping — where to go and who to call for help if needed.
    • Where to keep your emergency kit so that you can grab it quickly when needed

    Conclusion

    Disasters are usually not avoidable or predictable. With that said, it’s important to be fully prepared ahead of time. This is true for all of us, but senior citizens will especially benefit from taking matters into their own hands earlier on as they may not have the ability to escape an emergency as quickly. Remember that when an emergency strikes, time is of essence!

    Additional Resources

    Red Cross – Find out more on why it’s so important to have a personal support network when you’re a senior preparing for any emergency.

    FEMA – Review additional tips for emergency preparedness. These pointers are great for both family and caregivers of seniors to keep in mind too.

    Insurance Information Institute – Learn more about the importance of home insurance and the different options available to seniors.

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  • July 27, 2018 /  Basics, Resources

    How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors Part Two
    This is a continuation in a series focusing on scams and crimes targeting older adults and the elderly. Did you read the last article? If not, check it out here! How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors: Part 1. Today we’ll be sharing even more resources to help you stay protected and knowledgeable.

    Stealing from the Grieving

    What to look out for: Widows and widowers are told that their spouse had outstanding debts that must be settled. Sometimes, the scammer may appear at the victim’s doorstep with a pay-on-delivery package that was supposedly ordered by the deceased. The con artists find widowed spouses by browsing public obituary listings or snooping at funeral homes. Sometimes the funeral home is the perpetrator and tacks on additional fees or pushes unnecessary items, such as an expensive casket for a cremation.

    Risks: The bereaved can be scammed out of money or upsold on funeral expenses.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers tips about how to avoid scams after the death of a loved one.

    Phony Sweethearts

    What to look out for: Sometimes referred to as the “sweetheart” scam, fraudsters target widowers using online dating sites in an attempt to form a trusting relationship and then take advantage. The con artists may make up a heartbreaking story and ask for financial assistance, request that the target be a cosignatory for a loan, or even convince the target to sign over power of attorney, allowing the perpetrator to take out a home equity loan.

    Risks: Victims face a loss of funds and risk being saddled with unwanted debts. Identity theft is also possible.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers an in-depth look at online dating scams and how to avoid becoming a victim.

    Reverse Mortgage Scams

    What to look out for: Many people’s life savings are tied to the equity in their homes, a prime target for thieves. Reverse mortgages are a popular way for seniors to take cash out of their homes without having to move. Scams related to this sometimes-useful tool come in many forms, from fees hidden in the fine print to failure to disclose the consequences of unexpected default.

    Risks: Victims can lose their homes, or be subject to excessive fees.

    Helpful resources: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a consumer advisory about the dangers of reverse mortgages.

    Unneeded Repairs

    What to look out for: In this scenario, scammers case a neighborhood looking for elderly residents and then knock on the door posing as handymen. They point out a few things that they insist need repair. Payment may be demanded up front, and if the work is done at all, it’s often unlicensed and sloppy.

    Risks: Homeowners stand to lose the upfront payment and face damage to their property due to shoddy workmanship.

    Helpful resources: The FTC offers tips to help people, especially seniors, avoid home-improvement scams.

    Online Phishing

    What to look out for: Online scams don’t necessarily target seniors, but people less familiar with technology are more susceptible. Phishing, the attempt to steal sensitive information online by posing as someone else, is a popular trick. Emails from supposedly official organizations, including governments and large businesses, ask recipients to change their passwords, update account information, or pay an outstanding debt. Sometimes, simply clicking on a link is enough to infect a computer with malicious software that can steal personal information.

    Risks: The scammers can come away with access to the victim’s accounts and identity, along with a quick payday.

    Helpful resources: The FTC offers advice on how to avoid phishing scams.

    Fraud-Prevention Scam

    What to look out for: Scammers sometimes claim to be calling from a bank’s fraud-prevention department and request information like a credit card security code or expiration date. Even if the caller ID looks like it’s from a bank, don’t be fooled. Never share personal or financial data.

    Risks: Victims face the immediate loss of money from their accounts, with the potential for even costlier identity theft.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers advice about avoiding fraud-prevention scams.

    Tech Support Scam

    What to look out for: Scammers often pose as representatives from software or computer companies and announce they’ve identified viruses or other problems with a person’s computer. They then try to sell the victim bogus software, offer to “run a scan,” or ask for permission to access the computer.

    Risks: Victims face potential identity theft and harm to their computer.

    Helpful resources: The FTC maintains a page dedicated specifically to tech support scams.

    If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of a scam:

    Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing will only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.

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  • July 18, 2018 /  Basics, Resources

    How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors Part One
    We’ve discussed scams, fraud, and crimes against older adults and the elderly in the past, but today we’re going to share valuable resources that will help you either be more prepared, or give you the next step if you do fall victim to it. Seniors are commonly targeted because they tend to own their homes and have strong credit and ample savings. They’re also less likely to report fraud and tend to be less familiar with technology. Consequently, they are a favorite mark for fraudsters.

    Seniors lose more money by far to scams than any other demographic, with the median loss totaling $390, the Better Business Bureau found. This year may see new scams introduced or old scams revised, but one thing is certain: Dishonest people are working hard to separate older Americans from their money. Here’s what to look out for, and links to helpful resources on the subjects.

    Selling Anxiety

    What to look out for: Scams often start with unsolicited phone calls offering products aimed at easing a person’s fears. Calls like these were at the heart of a case where a company contacted seniors (even those listed on the National Do Not Call Registry) to hawk medical-alert pendants. The company shipped products without receiving an order and then threatened legal action or verbally abused seniors who didn’t pay.

    Risks: Victims lose the cost of the product and could be exposed to identity theft.

    Helpful resources: The Federal Trade Commission takes complaints about shady companies.

    Fake Prizes and Sweepstakes

    What to look out for: Another scam that often starts with an email or phone call, this one relies on a sense of hope rather than fear. Victims are told they’ve won a lottery or other large prize, but first they must transfer money to cover the accompanying taxes and fees.

    Risks: Victims face the loss of those funds, and identity theft is also a risk.

    Helpful resources: The FTC maintains a web page specifically about prize scams.

    Health Insurance Fraud

    What to look out for: Mobile “health-care labs” are sometimes parked at retirement homes, malls, or health clubs, and fake or unnecessary tests are administered on “patients” whose identifying information is then used to bill insurance companies and Medicare. Similar rackets involving unneeded medical equipment also target seniors.

    Risks: Often directed at the elderly by perpetrators who leverage the term “Medicare,” this scam seeks personal information and could expose seniors to identity theft.

    Helpful resources: The government maintains a dedicated web page on Medicare fraud.

    The Grandchild Hook

    What to look out for: In the “grandparent scam,” crooks call seniors claiming to be a grandchild who has run into financial or legal difficulties and is in jail. The scammer begs the targeted senior not to tell the grandchild’s parents and to wire money to a bail bondsman.

    Risks: Victims forfeit not just the money but critical personal and financial data.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers tips to help seniors beat this scam.

    Fake Products

    What to look out for: Some scammers sell fake products that promise youthful vibrancy, or breakthrough treatments that have no side effects. These items may be harmless sugar pills that hurt only the victim’s wallet, but others, such as fake Botox, can cause temporary paralysis or other physical harm.

    Risks: People lose money on fake products, but this kind of scam, as well as those selling cheap counterfeit prescription drugs, could also lead to serious illness or injury.

    Helpful resources: The Food and Drug Administration maintains a web page dedicated to medication health fraud.

    “Too Good to Be True” Investments

    What to look out for: Pyramid, Ponzi, or advance-fee schemes, as well as the now infamous “419” fraud, all fall into this category. In the 419 scam, a foreign national (often a “Nigerian prince”) requests money and finagles access to personal and financial data with the lure of sharing his immense wealth. Advance-fee schemes typically involve the sale of a product or service or arranging a so-called profitable venture in exchange for a finder’s fee.

    Risks: Once the fee is paid, the scammer disappears. Identity theft is also a risk.

    Helpful resources: AARP’s ElderWatch offers advice on recognizing and reporting fraud.

    If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam there are local resources you can turn to, including the police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. There’s also helpful information available at StopFraud.gov.

    Check out the second part in this series here!

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  • June 24, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Crime Prevention Tips For Seniors

    Crime prevention is vital for seniors and the elderly as they are an age group commonly targeted by unscrupulous individuals. There is plenty that you can do to learn to protect yourself. Follow these simple tips, and recruit backup as needed from your friends and family, and you can take a proactive approach in your own life!

    General Personal Safety

    1. Keep your money safe by not carrying large quantities of cash when you go out.
    2. When possible, travel or shop with a friend. You are less likely to be intimidated or approached if you are with someone.
    3. Avoid giving money to panhandlers.
    4. If you feel threatened, go to the closest business or public space.
    5. If you decide to give money to the panhandler or feel threatened, do not open your purse or wallet. This showcases how much cash or other valuables you are carrying. This could encourage a panhandler to become more aggressive or try to take your property.
    6. Carry a cell phone for emergency purposes. Emergencies can happen at any time. Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased for very little, and could save a life.

    In the Home (Including in Senior Communities)

    1. Lock your door when you leave your residence and when you arrive home – always use the dead bolt.
    2. Don’t allow someone that you don’t know or immediately recognize into your building. Ask the person who they are, why they need into your building, and where they need to go.
    3. If someone tries to follow you into your building, and is acting suspiciously, use another entrance or go back to your vehicle.
    4. Use the peephole to see who is knocking. If you don’t recognize the person, don’t open the door.

    Credit and Debit Card Safety

    1. Protect your bank and credit card PIN numbers. Do not share your PIN. No one should have access to this information, unless you have designated a trusted family member as a helper.
    2. Never provide personal information over the internet or the phone.
    3. If you shop online, ensure there are good security protocols in place. Review your credit card statements for information security. Only shop on reputable websites.
    4. Immediately advise your bank if you suspect fraud. They can help you determine what to do and what your next step may be.
    5. Change your bank and credit card PIN numbers regularly.

    Identity Theft

    1. Never provide personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know or completely trust.
    2. If a caller is asking for your personal information (social security number, date of birth, banking information, etc.) – hang up the phone. You can immediately end the call. It is not rude if you are protecting your personal information.
    3. Never provide personal information over the Internet (email, social media, websites).
    4. Properly shred anything with personal information on it.
    5. Do not hesitate to question the caller. Ask why they are calling, who they work for, or ask to speak to their supervisor. Fraud artists generally cannot answer these questions and it can identify those who have nefarious intentions.

    Scams

    Scams have many forms. Generally, the scam artist is attempting to get your personal information or money. Scam artists may have some information about you (your middle name or date of birth) but will not know much else. If you are suspicious, challenge the scam artist to identify themselves and give more details.

    1. If someone comes to your door soliciting money or posing as a company employee, ask to see their identification. If they can’t produce it, close and lock your door – call the police.
    2. If a caller poses as a representative of a bank, credit card company, or the IRS, you can hang up and call them directly (using the number you find in the phone book or online – not one given to you by the caller) and check with them. None of these entities EVER request personal information over the phone. The credit card company or bank may call and ask if you authorized a transaction. If you didn’t, they will close the card and reissue a card to the address on file. But never give them your address as they are supposed to already have it. They may say that this is for security purposes but you should always state that you will call them (again, not using a number they supply but one you find in a phone book or online).
    3. Advise your credit card company or bank if someone calls. Your credit card / bank card information may have already been stolen.
    4. If you are asked by someone you don’t know to send money to a family member, or close friend, it is likely a scam. Ask the caller to provide detailed information that only you and your family members know. Ask the caller about a family member that doesn’t exist. You will quickly be able to identify their legitimacy.

    While crime can create special concerns for seniors, you can learn how to protect yourself, and make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood!

    Be sure to stay tuned for the second part in this series, which will go into further details on the various ways seniors can prevent crime in their lives, and how to handle it if it does happen.

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  • June 5, 2018 /  Basics

    According to the National Institute of Health, eating a well-planned and well-balanced mix of foods daily has numerous benefits for seniors. A healthy senior diet can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and bone loss. Not only that, but proper nutrition also helps reduce high blood pressure and can lower cholesterol. Another benefit is that it will build up your body’s ability to manage some of the chronic conditions or illnesses you may already have.

    Eating a healthy diet also provides increased mental capacity and higher energy levels, helping you feel better overall and live longer and stronger. But you might already be used to a certain type of diet and find change difficult. With these tips, you can get started and head in the right direction.

    All diet or exercise changes should first be discussed with your doctor.

    How to Plan a Nutritious Diet for Healthy Aging

    As we age, we may experience changes in our appetites or taste buds. Our metabolism begins to slow as does our activity levels, which means the body needs fewer calories. Some seniors may begin to skip meals, which can lead to a variety of problems that jeopardize their health. An improper diet will cause undesired weight loss and a weaker immune system, making aging adults more susceptible to illnesses like the flu and the common cold.

    It’s important to know how you can stimulate your appetite for proper senior nutrition. Promote healthy eating habits by:

    • Setting a proper eating schedule. Our bodies thrive on routine, and when we stray from our typical schedules the appetite can be affected.
    • Don’t increase the portion size; increase the amount of nutrients you’re eating. For example, adding peanut butter to your toast instead of butter or adding cheese to your scrambled eggs.
    • Use more herbs, sauces or marinades to enhance the flavor of your foods and address decreased taste sensitivity.
    • Eat socially! Go to lunch or dinner with some friends. Socializing with others during a meal can help improve your food intake.

    Conversely, there are principles to follow if you need to lose weight. Control your weight by:

    • Focusing on fruit and vegetables as a basis for your daily diet, as this is where the majority of your nutrients are going to come from.
    • Making sure you have plenty of protein. This protein can come from lean meats, legumes, beans, or even from some quality protein bars. Protein is essential for muscle mass, which decreases with age.
    • Carefully considering your portion sizes. Oftentimes you’ll be greatly surprised at the difference between a healthy portion versus what you initially want to put on your plate!
    • While diet is extremely important, you’ll get even better results if paired with exercise. Check out our articles on that subject!

    Eating Right for Proper Senior Nutrition

    Now is the time to implement those changes in your diet that will improve your overall health! In addition to the previously discussed foods, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients, include healthy carbs from grains and to provide a boost of energy.

    Another way to promote proper nutrition includes eating healthy snacks. Instead of reaching for that bag of chips or package of cookies, snack on chopped veggies, trail mix, whole-grain crackers, or dried fruit. Prepare small containers or bags of snacks so they’re just as convenient to grab as that bag of chips.

    Also, did you know you should eat your biggest meals earlier in the day? It’s true! This can be a difficult rule to follow, as many people tend to skip breakfast and eat a lighter lunch, and then enjoy a large, calorie-laden dinner. However, eating a big, healthy breakfast gives you the fuel you need for the day, while eating a smaller dinner makes sense considering your body will soon be “powering down” for nighttime.

    Don’t forget to treat yourself! Save around a reasonable amount of calories per day to satisfy your sweet tooth with some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or pretzels for your salt cravings. Just watch your portion sizes and keep the calories in check. Be sure to consider whether you have any ailments requiring you to monitor sweets, such as diabetes.

    All potential diet changes should be discussed with your doctor, as they can customize a diet and fitness plan tailored to your needs.

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  • May 28, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    5 Tips to Help Seniors Adjust to Assisted Living
    The decision to move to a retirement or nursing home is never an easy one. The truth is that when we are young, it’s something that we hope we never have to do. We would all love to grow old in our own homes. But for many seniors, moving to an assisted living community is their best long-term option. This may be the case for you.

    Naturally a move to a new community often feels very difficult, and transitioning to new surroundings usually requires close collaboration between yourself, family members, and the staff at the facility. Choosing a community with great amenities, friendly staff, and positive reviews from other residents is often crucial to making the transition successful. However, there is so much more you can do to feel comfortable in your new surroundings.

    1. Stay involved in your own care

    A common worry among seniors considering retirement homes is that you’ll have no control. If you’ve always lived in your own home and taken care of yourself, suddenly having less control can be upsetting. But it doesn’t have to be the case. Sit down with the home manager, and possibly with a trusted family member, and talk about your options. Remember that while staff is there to help you, ultimately, you are still in control of your own life!

    2. Make your new environment feel like home

    Residents are usually free to make some small changes to your rooms. You might not be able to decorate fully, but you could bring your own bedding and small furnishings, as well as photographs, artwork, and other decorative touches. Spending time getting your room just right can help you feel comforted and at home.

    Additionally, try to get to know the staff and your fellow residents. Building friendships quickly will help dispel any initial loneliness, and it’s useful for the staff to know you well, as your will better understand how to help you in the future.

    3. Ask for regular visits

    Many seniors respond better to a change in environment if your see a familiar, reassuring face on a regular basis. So don’t be shy about asking your family or close friends to pay you regular visits! Spending time with you in your new room can help make the new space feel even more familiar. They’ll surely appreciate you expressing your needs openly, and will more than likely be very happy to help you adjust.

    4. Don’t cut off your life outside the facility

    Living in a retirement or nursing home away from your previous life can lessen your sense of independence, which can make getting used to your new environment a lot harder. If possible, continue to eat at your favorite restaurants, visit friends, enjoy classes at the local community center, or do anything else you regularly enjoyed.

    5. Build new relationships within the community

    As mentioned, you also need to build new relationships within the nursing home, so that you gain a sense of community.   One of the best parts of moving to an assisted living community is the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of wellness programs and life enrichment activities. Take time to investigate the community’s activities and events schedule. Identify the ones that sound appealing to you and make the effort to attend.

    While transitioning to any sort of assisted living can be emotional, once you adjust you will be able to enjoy all of the benefits that community life has to offer!

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  • April 30, 2018 /  Basics

    Dealing With the Death of Your Beloved Pet

    Most pet owners report that they see their animals as members of the family. They name them, celebrate their birthdays, pay expensive veterinary bills to help them, buy them gifts, and often feel that they get as much joy from them as they do from their human friends or family.

    For senior citizens, pets can take on a great significance – many of them feel that their pet is their primary companion; they are their family. As seniors age, so do their pets, and so many older adults face the stress of watching their pet fall ill or pass away. Though their lives are shorter on average than our own, their impact on our lives is no less meaningful than the relationships we hold with other people. If you’re struggling with the loss of a pet, you are not alone and you are not wrong for experiencing the deepest feelings of grief in these circumstances.

    Bearing in mind your capacity to love your pet, when a death occurs, it is without a doubt a traumatic experience. The grief reaction is actually healthy, though it can express itself in many difficult ways. You may experience some or all of these symptoms in varying degrees: lethargy, headaches, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep and insomnia, sadness, depression, regret, loneliness, anxiety, poor concentration, confusion, and guilt.

    Your feelings may be especially intense if you had to go through the heartbreaking choice of euthanizing your very sick companion. Dr. Mark Lawrie, president of the Australian Veterinary Association, says: “Yet this difficult choice is often the right one, particularly if your pet is in agonizing pain or the quality of life has deteriorated. Vets deal with this on a daily basis and often have to counsel owners in coming to terms with the death of their pet. People react in all sorts of different ways.”

    Bereavement counseling is becoming more popular because as a society, we’re now coming to terms with the fact that losing a companion animal can be as difficult as losing a family member. All too commonly, people feel they shouldn’t go through the same grieving process as for a human. But if you’re suffering, there is no shame in seeking help.

    To help cope with the loss of a pet, consider the following recommendations from grief support specialists:

    • Don’t be afraid to cry – Tears are a natural expression of your grief. Stifling them does a disservice to your emotional health.
    • Write notes to your pet – When you’re feeling your worst, write the words you’d like to say to your pet down in a note. This will help you to process the complex emotions of grieving.
    • Take care of yourself – Grief can cause us to lose sleep, eat poorly and miss our exercise routines. Taking care of yourself by maintaining your healthy habits leaves you better prepared to handle the grieving process.
    • Be kind to yourself – Take a walk outside, read a favorite book, or enjoy a relaxing hobby like gardening or knitting. Being kind to yourself is something positive you can do in memory of your pet.
    • Avoid unnecessary changes – Major changes in your life or daily routine will only add to your stress. If possible, save them for a time when you’ve had a chance to heal.

    It’s important to make time and space for the grief. Don’t hesitate to express your feelings openly, whether with a counselor, a close friend or family member, or even a journal. Healthy support is the key — talk to people you trust and who will empathize with your situation. What you need is to be heard.

    The early days will be hard going, but eventually you’ll move through the feelings and the intensity will diminish. And in time, you will remember your pet with happiness and affection rather than sadness and grief.

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  • April 18, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    How to Cope with the Death of a Spouse
    The death of your partner or spouse is a life-changing experience. Grieving the loss of a spouse or partner is about cherishing your memories of your loved one while remaining open to new experiences that may enrich your life.

    Have compassion for yourself. The loss of a partner or spouse is a traumatic event. Allow yourself to feel conflicting emotions. At times you may feel that you don’t have enough time to grieve your loss or take care of yourself. At other times, you may feel that you have too much time. You may feel as though you are going through many different losses at the same time, such as:

    • The loss of your loved one’s personality and uniqueness.
    • The loss of the role he or she had in your family.
    • The loss of the routines that were so much a part of your daily life.

    Rest assured that such feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.

    Get help with practical matters. You may be facing practical challenges, such as mounting bills or paperwork related to your partner’s death, along with new responsibilities. A family lawyer or other trusted advisor might be able to offer counsel and guidance.

    Seek support. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be yourself and who recognize your feelings. Identify people whom you can depend on for support. These may include:

    • Family members and friends.
    • A spiritual leader.
    • Members of a support group for people who have lost a loved one.
    • A social worker or other professional counselor.

    Give it time. There is no timetable for grief. Although you will never stop missing your partner, as time passes your pain will ease and you will be able to go on with your life.

    Honor your loved one. Do something special to honor your partner’s memory. For example, you might consider:

    • Planting a tree or flowers in memory of your partner.
    • Enlarging a favorite photograph and displaying it in your home.
    • Setting aside regular time to simply think about your partner, or even listening to music or watching movies that you enjoyed together.

    Create a remembrance album or scrapbook. Photos of your partner can help you remember how he or she looked and the life you shared together. You’ll create something that you can turn to when your feelings are especially painful, or when you just want to dwell on all your happy experiences together.

    Keep a journal. Try to put your feelings and memories down on paper. Recall events and times that were important for the two of you. Think back to the tough times you helped each other through. Record your partner’s history and legacy by identifying:

    • Accomplishments he or she was most proud of
    • Places he or she loved
    • Favorite foods, songs, holidays, and family stories

    You will eventually redefine yourself, and your life.

    These are some of the many things you can do to cope with the death of your loved one, and grieve in a healthy way. You have gone from being a husband, wife or partner to a widow or widower. These words feel harsh and confining, and it’s difficult but critical to ensure that the new title doesn’t define you. As time passes, you will regain both your energy and your hope for the future.

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  • January 2, 2018 /  Basics

    Why should you hire a fiduciary? As a senior citizen, when considering your long-term future, you’re likely faced with two different scenarios. One possibility is that you lack immediate family who can be appointed as your power of attorney or health care surrogate. Or you have plenty of family support, but ironically face a similar predicament. You might have loved ones who could take over if needed, but they may live far away, lack the appropriate skills, or bring a potential for conflict with siblings or other relatives. Family may be willing but unable or ill-prepared to fill this important role.

    In either case, what is a person to do in order to take charge of their legal, financial, and medical future? A professional fiduciary may be the solution.

    What Is a Fiduciary?

    A fiduciary is a person who is named in a private agreement or by a court to assume responsibility for a position of trust. Fiduciaries handle affairs on someone else’s behalf while they are still alive and/or after they have passed away. For example, a representative payee for a loved one’s Social Security benefits and an executor for a decedent’s estate both serve in a fiduciary role.

    Professional Fiduciaries

    Most people would prefer to choose the person who will be entrusted with managing their affairs rather than an appointment by the state; this is why trusts and power of attorney documents for finances and healthcare exist. They allow individuals to appoint someone they know and trust (an agent) to make decisions on their behalf so that a stranger does not assume this very personal responsibility. But, as mentioned above, in cases where a senior does not have a person to appoint, a professional may be the best bet. In the past, those who served as professional fiduciaries tended to be trust company officers, certified public accountants, or attorneys. Starting in 2008, the State of California authorized a new category of people to act in a fiduciary role through the Department of Consumer Affairs by way of a licensing process. In selecting a professional fiduciary, be certain the person or organization has appropriate certifications and experience in this area of expertise.

    This individual must act in the best interest of the person they are representing. Breach of fiduciary duties is taken very seriously. While you may be unsure about appointing someone you do not know, professionals in this line of work must follow a strict code of ethics and are typically regulated by individual states.

    How Are Professional Fiduciaries Appointed?

    Anyone who would like to appoint an impartial individual to manage their healthcare and/or finances can name a fiduciary in their power of attorney documents. In instances where the person failed to name any agent to act on their behalf prior to becoming incapacitated, or in cases where an already appointed agent is misusing or abusing their position, guardianship (for those under 18 years of age)  or proceedings can ensue. This lengthy and expensive process can result in a court-appointed professional fiduciary who will handle the person’s affairs.

    The best way to ensure that your affairs will be handled the way you prefer is to work with an attorney to draft appropriate documents and keep them up to date.

    These reasons and others make it is wise to consider hiring a professional fiduciary. Storz Fiduciary Services offers a free initial consultation, where we can discuss your personal concerns and go over how we can help you!

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