• April 25, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    The Power of Art in a Senior’s Life

    As people age, they sometimes begin to feel like they don’t have a lot of things to keep them happily occupied. They may begin to feel depressed or underappreciated because they think they no longer contribute to their community, and not having a good hobby can worsen these feelings.

    According to a study published in the Journal of Aging Studies, study participants, aged 60 to 93, identified six features of successful aging: a sense of purpose, interactions with others, personal growth, self-acceptance, autonomy, and health. Creative activities, such as writing, painting, or knitting, encourage a sense of competence, purpose, and growth—all of which contribute to aging well.

    One of the best ways to keep yourself happily occupied is by taking up painting. There are many benefits that you’ll gain from staying creative, and a lack of experience is not a barrier to enjoyment. Whether you’re picking up the brush for the first time, or returning to an old favorite hobby, the benefits include improved moods, better hand-eye coordination and an outlet for emotions through creative expression.

    Participating in artistic activities also bolsters problem-solving skills, as you work to put what you see in front of you, or in your mind’s eye, onto the blank canvas. And this will bring a satisfaction that you can carry over into everyday life. You develop a sense of pride in what you’ve created, especially when you share it with your friends and family!

    Psychologically, the benefits of creating things is fulfilling and gives people a sense of worth and contribution; creating gives people a more positive outlook on life, and as we age, having the a negative outlook can cause mental and physical deterioration.

    Many seniors shy away from creative activities because they feel as though they are not creative enough or are not artistic; however, even novices can be creative with the right approach. By taking a painting class, you’ll find yourself surrounded with those who are new to the art form as well. Visiting an art museum can inspire you, and you might find yourself testing out your skills as you interpret the pieces you saw. One must always remember that abstract art is a wonderful form of painting in which you can focus more on using colors, shapes, and designs that express your emotions in a unique way. And there’s no training necessary for that!

    Surprisingly, it is shown that regular participation in the creative arts yields a significant increase in overall physical health. In addition to fighting negativity, as noted above, those seniors who regularly engage in art programs actually have better physical health than those who do not.

    In one study, after a twelve month period of engaging in participatory art activities, those who participated reported a higher rate of physical health, fewer accidental falls, a decrease in the amount and types of medications they needed, and a decrease in the number of times they needed to visit the doctor or other healthcare professional. A control group—comprised of similarly situated seniors who did not participate in the art activities—did not report the same benefits.

    This study shows a definite correlation between participation in a regular creative art activity and increased physical health. As such, involving yourself in painting, drawing, and the like, will improve your quality of life and act as a way of preserving your physical health and well-being.

    It would be well worth your time to enroll in some sort of arts program. One such place would be one of the Seniors First Adult Day Programs, where a variety of beneficial classes are offered at a reasonable price. Check them out here, and discover the benefits and the power of creativity in your life!

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  • April 11, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    The Power of Music For the ElderlyIt’s impossible to imagine a world without music. For most of us, music holds special meaning, and has emotional value. It creates strong responses, such as hearing a song from your past that connects with the feelings you had back then. When you take a step further and actually create music yourself, it involves complicated processes in your brain that can be incredibly therapeutic.

    Research has shown that music shares neural networks with memory, attention, motor movement, language and executive functioning. All of this helps us understand the way our brain processes music as we age; even if we have a disease or lesion in the brain that affects our motor movements, memory, speech, etc., we can still process music and use it as a tool to re-wire our non-musical neural networks. It is virtually impossible to completely lose music perception and production processes in our brain.

    One wonderful example can be seen in this video clip, taken from the documentary Alive Inside. It highlights the reaction of an elderly Alzheimer’s patient to music from his era. You can watch it here: http://bit.ly/1sJeRx7

    Clearly, music has the ability to take us back in time, to evoke memories and feelings from the past. Hearing a tune you love can offer comfort and cheer during times of sadness, and can even turn a bad mood around almost instantly. So, how can music help you, regardless of your current age or mental abilities?

    • Music taps into our memories. Have you ever been driving, heard a song on the radio, then immediately been taken to a certain place, a specific time in your life, or a particular person? Music is second only to smell for it’s ability to stimulate our memory in a very powerful way. Music therapists who work with older adults with dementia have countless stories of how music stimulates their clients to reminisce about their life in a positive way.
    • Music is a social experience. Our ancestors bonded and passed on their stories and knowledge through song, stories, and dance. Even today, many of our music experiences are shared with a group, whether playing in band or an elementary music class, listening to jazz at a restaurant, or singing in church choir. Music makes it easy for music therapists to structure and facilitate a group process. For seniors without family nearby and who lack social involvement, signing up for a music therapy class can bring them joy and relaxation.
    • Music is non-invasive, safe, and motivating. We can’t forget that most people really enjoy music. This is not the most important reason why music works in therapy, but it’s the icing on the cake. Many seniors have found that putting on a favorite record can address mild anxiety very well, and can be a complement to any medical interventions. (Individual cases vary and medical choices should always be made with your doctor.)

    What issues exactly does music therapy address, and what is your greatest concern for your own self?

    • Cognitive skills: Music can help seniors process their thoughts and maintain memories. For dementia patients, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven to be effective in obtaining a positive response and involvement, even when the patient can no longer communicate. So starting when you are still a senior, not quite elderly, can give you a strong emotional foundation as you age.
    • Speech skills: Music therapy has been proven to help older adults answer questions, make decisions, and speak clearer. It can help slow the deterioration of speech and language skills in dementia patients; studies have shown that even when an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to speak, they can still recognize and even hum or sing their favorite song, as was illustrated in the video clip above.
    • Stress Reduction: Stress, anxiety, and depression are all too common for seniors. Playing music you enjoy can help you relax and work through your emotions. Slow songs, like ballads, can help prepare you for bed, or energetic songs, such as jazz, can help you stay alert while going about your daily activities. The great news is that the possibilities are endless!
    • Physical Skills: Music can inspire movement in seniors. With music comes dancing, after all! Music and dancing promote coordination and can help with walking and endurance. Even if you aren’t as mobile as you’d like, music can inspire toe tapping and clapping, thus getting the blood flowing once again.

    If you’re convinced, and want to get involved, check with your local senior center, and the community center, to see if they have any programs in place. Additionally, the American Music Therapy Association has a list of music therapists available, as well as general information on the topic. You can find them at www.MusicTherapy.org.

    Finally, you can go dig out some of your old records, or buy some new CDs, and take the time to listen and relax everyday. Take care of yourself now, and you’ll be happier in the future!

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  • March 20, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    6 Senior Home Care Myths Busted
    Home care: these two words may overwhelm families as they’re considering viable options for their aging relatives, as well as senior citizens themselves. Home care allows a person with special needs to remain in their home, and may encompass a variety of roles such as personal care (i.e., bathing, washing your hair, getting dressed), homemaking (i.e., cleaning and yard work), cooking or delivering meals, and health care such as having a home health aide come to your home.

    While it entails a variety of situations (such as people getting older, people who are chronically ill, recovering from surgery or disabled), there are many myths you might be aware of as you consider the possibility. Let’s take a look and learn the truth about them.

    Home care is only for elderly people.

    “People of all ages are eligible for home care,” says Maxine Hochhauser, CEO of Visiting Nurse Regional Health Care System. In fact, she notes older patients aren’t the only people receiving care; mothers and babies receive services as well as older individuals. In addition, home care may be necessary for a variety of life altering situations such as car accidents, unanticipated illnesses, or other mishaps.  It stands to reason that even a capable senior citizen in their 60s might benefit from aspects of home care.

    The quality of care provided at home is inferior compared to institutionalized care.

    According to Hochhauser, the clinical training of the staff for home care is the same if not better than training in institutions. She explains, “The clinicians need to be very well-versed since they’re on their own inside a home. It’s not uncommon to have advanced medical treatments such as intravenous therapy and ventilator care to be done at home.”

    Home care is the solution to a problem.

    Milca Pabon, RN, a home health care nurse with Adventist Home Health, indicates that home care is quite the opposite: it’ll help you find ways to cope with the problem, not cure it. “The purpose of visits is to teach family members how to provide care for their loved ones in the home.” She adds, “It will open them to the resources in their communities that will be able to assist them to function at their highest level if possible where they were prior to hospitalization.”

    For instance, patients and family members are taught how to do procedures such as uncomplicated wound care and post-orthopedic home exercises. Many skills learned from short-term home care have assisted senior citizens in various situations that arise in their lives.

    Home care is an alternative to other care options such as a hospital or nursing home.

    Actually, home care provided by professional caregivers often supplements other care arrangements and helps ensure patients receive the care they need and deserve. Instead of viewing home care as a replacement for other care arrangements, it is about meeting people’s needs and wants regardless of where or when services are provided or who else is involved in the care process.

    Home care is expensive and only wealthy people can afford it.

    Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers, says there are actually many ways for seniors to afford quality home care. “With new programs such as reverse mortgages, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and access to state and local programs such as Medicaid, many more families are able to afford quality home care for their loved one.” Consider contacting a professional such as an estate planning attorney, in order to discuss your options.

    Long-term care only exists in a skilled nursing home.

    This is not the case for many families. If a senior has medical issues that require health care throughout the day, a skilled nursing home may be the right option. However, most seniors require simple assistance, which oftentimes is non-medical (such as running errands). It’s a great option for those who want to live out their life in their own homes.

    How do you know if home care is right for you? Next time, we’ll discuss the signs that indicate you might want to look into it.

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  • January 30, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    Today my guest is Rachelle Wells. She does a lot of the research for my website and keeps my posts up-to-date.

    The title for today’s entry is: No, You Can’t Have My Money! or 7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Financial Scams:

    7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Financial Scams

    Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year. Use these tips to protect yourself – with knowledge you can stay safe!

    1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers — and from those closest to you.

    More than 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by the older person’s family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.

    Common tactics include depleting a joint checking account, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, outright theft and other forms of abuse, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation and neglect of basic care needs.

    Everyone is at risk of financial abuse, even people without high incomes or assets. Understand common scams, so you can spot one before it’s too late.

    1. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”

    Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company and always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.

    Neighborhood children you know who are selling Girl Scout cookies or school fundraising items may be an exception, but a good rule of thumb is to never donate if it requires you to write your credit card information on any forms.

    It’s also good practice to obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number before you transact business.

    And always take your time in making a decision.

    1. Shred all receipts with your credit card number.

    Identity theft is a huge business. To protect yourself, invest in — and use — a paper shredder.

    Monitor your bank and credit card statements and never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates the contact with you.

    1. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists.

    Visit www.donotcall.gov or call the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 to stop telemarketers from contacting you.

    Be careful with your mail. Do not let incoming mail sit in your mailbox for a long time. When sending out sensitive mail, consider dropping it off at a secure collection box or directly at the post office.

    To get more tips on protecting yourself from fraud, visit www.onguardonline.gov, which has interactive games to help you be a smarter consumer on issues of related to spyware, lottery scams and other swindles.

    1. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen from the mailbox.

    Using direct deposit ensures that checks go right into your accounts and are protected. Clever scammers or even scrupulous loved ones have been known to steal benefits checks right out of mailboxes or from seniors’ homes if they are laying around.

    1. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

    Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries.

    Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card, banking and Social Security numbers, and do not allow anyone else to use it. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.

    Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

    1. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and do thorough research.

    Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.

    Also, carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing. Understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.

    As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts or committing money. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

    Steps to Take if You’re a Victim

    If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it — waiting could only make it worse. Immediately:

    • Call your bank and/or credit card company.
    • Cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account.
    • Reset your personal identification number(s).

    Also, contact legal services and Adult Protective Services if warranted. You do have the ability to protect yourself from financial scams!

    Rachelle Wells

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  • January 9, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    What Can Seniors Do to Prevent Falls?
    What’s the first you think of after you’ve had a fall? Most people would simply assume that they’re having some problems with eyesight or balance, hence impairing their ability to coordinate movement. Some also assume that they’ve had nothing more than a moment of clumsiness. These are not impossible conclusions. They do make perfect sense, but it is important to know that there can be other underlying reasons for the fall.

    Dr. Farrin Manian is a clinician educator and the principal investigator of a Massachusetts General Hospital study regarding infections and falls in the elderly.

    The study involved 161 patients who were treated in the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room for a fall. All 161 of these patients were later also diagnosed with an underlying infection. Of these, 44.1 percent had a urinary tract infection, 39.8 percent had a bloodstream infection, 23 percent had a respiratory infection and 5.6 percent had an infection of the heart valve.

    Initially, experts did not suspect an underlying infection in more than 40 percent of the patients. This may be due to the fact that many of these patients only had one, or even none, of common signs of an infection (such as a rapid heart rate, an abnormal white blood cell count, and fever). As such, it is apparent that it is highly likely for the underlying infection to be missed if you don’t consider all the factors that led up to your fall.

    Now you may be wondering how exactly an infection could lead to a fall. There may not seem like there is an obvious link between the two, but the explanation is rather simple! According to researchers involved in the Massachusetts General Hospital study, infections can lower blood pressure. This will result in feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness, which then increase the person’s risk of falling. This effect is worsened in elderly persons because illnesses can also increase confusion in older people, especially in the cases of those who are also suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    According to Dr. Manian, he was inspired to conduct the study because he had realized, over the years, that some of the more serious infections he had treated were in people who had come to the hospital because they had had a fall.

    According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.5 million elderly persons end up in American emergency rooms each year as a result of falls. Of these 2.5 million, less than a third require hospitalization consequentially. The death rate of these falls has also increased between the years 2004 and 2013, from 41 deaths per year for every 100, 000 people to 57 deaths every year for the same number of people.

    With such a large number of cases of elderly falls every year, it is important to be informed that there could be a huge range of causes behind the falling – it might not be a bout of clumsiness or failing eyesight.

    Of course, it is important to maintain your regular health checkups to ensure that no infections or other health problems go unnoticed. However, if you have already had a fall, it is essential that you don’t jump straight to conclusions and assume that it was due to clumsiness, eyesight problems, confusion, or other reasons. It is important that you consider all possibilities, and get a full health checkup conducted if possible, so as to detect any underlying health problems.

    By staying aware of the health of your complete body and mind, you can control your risk for serious falls!

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  • December 27, 2016 /  Miscelleaneous

    Five Wellness Tips for Seniors

    This is our last post in the ongoing series on health topics, and we’re going to go over five basic tips that all seniors can apply in their lives. By taking these general proactive steps you can lessen and even delay the severity of any health issues that arise. As always, run any diet and supplement changes by your doctor first!

    Tip #1: Take a fish oil supplement, which are rich in EFAs. Many seniors have a limited income and having something that gives the best bang for your buck is always a plus. Fish oil is one of them and highly recommended by many health professionals.

    Fish oil helps manage cardiovascular health by making platelets less sticky and therefore reducing your likelihood of clots, which can cause strokes or heart attacks. They also reduce atherosclerosis by lowering two repair proteins that encourage the spread of atherosclerotic tissue in arteries. In effect, they help fully open arteries. Fish oil assists in reducing inflammation for those with osteoarthritis or injuries due to trauma. It’s actually a key factor in decreasing age related memory decline. Those at risk for Alzheimer’s and/or dementia will find this extremely important.

    Tip #2: Eat a wide variety of fresh, organic food. This tip can be applied to anyone since many settle into a regular routine regardless of age. Eating the exact same thing for years increases one’s chance of accumulating food sensitivities. When this happens, digestive issues crop up and effective absorption of nutrients from food is reduced. Disease and other health related issues are guaranteed to become a problem. As we age, stomach acid (which is key in helping one break down food in the digestive system) is produced less. Eating seasonally and/or buying a CSA will help one increase variety in their diet.

    Tip #3: Take a probiotics and eat foods rich in good bacteria. Probiotics help increase your immune system, which can be very helpful for seniors that get ill often. If you’re encountering any food sensitivities (because you didn’t follow tip #2!) then probiotics are definitely your friend. Some foods that are rich in good bacteria are kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and kefir.

    Tip #4: Take a CoEnzymeQ10 supplement. When our body becomes ill or imbalanced, it creates free radicals. One way of addressing this is to increase your antioxidants. CoEnzymeQ10 is an antioxidant nutrient and is a key factor in preventing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular related problems. Many medications on the market directed at seniors have a side effect that drastically depletes your CoEnzymeQ10 reserves. If you take any heart medication it is imperative that you take this supplement.

    Take #5: Include medicinal mushrooms in your diet. Fungi are more beneficial to humans than you might expect! Traditionally used in ancient cultures for a range of conditions, they are useful for the immune, respiratory, circulatory, nervous, digestive, and skeletal/muscular systems. They work very similarly to an adaptogen by helping the body return to a balanced state. Numerous studies suggest they contain compounds that support immunity, prevent infection and provide additive or synergistic effects in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Medicinal mushrooms include shitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps.

    Senior health care is often a cause of concern. You may have spent a large part of your younger life pursuing work, career and family goals. As you retire from your hectic routine, the pace of life begins to slow down. It requires effort to pay attention to what your body demands, and ensure that you continue to live a long and healthy life.

    With age, priorities change. If those were the days when earning money or sustaining the needs of your family was your priority, the senior years can be looked upon as an opportunity to pamper yourself. Take care of yourself. Beyond these tips, look for other ways to improve your overall wellbeing. Go get a massage, join a spa, or sign up for an art class. Think outside the box. By incorporating practical healthcare with inner self-care, you’ll find great advantages to embracing your senior years!

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  • December 12, 2016 /  Miscelleaneous

    How To Exercise When You Have Arthritis
    This is part of a continuing series on how seniors can stay fit long into their older years. Arthritis is extremely common among the elderly, and can affect life negatively in numerous ways. If you’re a sufferer, you might wonder how you could possibly exercise with the pain you experience.

    However, you can take an active role in protecting your joints so that you can enjoy a pain-free life. Many people with arthritis mistakenly believe they should avoid exercise and rest their muscles and joints. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle weaken cartilage and bone, and increase the likelihood of damage and deterioration. A person with arthritis (regardless of age or gender) needs to exercise for the same reasons as everyone else: to maintain skeletal muscle, heart health, and bone density. They also need to increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

    So what are the best types of exercise for arthritis sufferers?

    Many find that physical therapy and exercise help reduce pain and minimizes stiffness. There are three types of exercise that work well for people with arthritis:

    1. Exercises that improve range of motion. Incorporate these exercises daily in order to help increase your level of flexibility and maintain or regain normal movement of your joints. Include back exercises to help relieve pain and stiffness.
    2. Exercises that improve strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints. Follow a strength-training program developed by your physical therapist or trainer and learn how to properly (and safely) perform these exercises.
    3. Cardiovascular exercises. Your cardiovascular health is important. While you may not be able to run, you can greatly benefit from walking, a stationary bicycle, swimming, or any activity that safely increases and maintains an elevated heart rate and breathing. Cardio training will also burn calories and help you maintain a healthy weight.

    Try to include exercises from all three of these training types. Regardless of the exercises you choose, focus on ones that do not cause you additional pain.

    As you exercise to increase the strength and flexibility in your joints, you will soon find particular ones that you enjoy. However, avoid doing the same workout over and over, with no variety. Doing this for extended periods will result in overtraining and cause injuries to your joints, especially your knees. Alternate your exercise program and include a wide range of low or no-impact exercises. Alternate training days with strength training exercises.

    But don’t skip the weight or resistance training as it strengthens those muscles and the supporting ligaments surrounding your joints and protects them from damage or injury and may delay additional deterioration. Strength training also increases bone density (thickness) and bone strength, and stronger bones and muscles support your joints and take pressure off of them.

    Your goal should be three or four session of twenty to thirty minutes each week. When your arthritis flares up you will be tempted to skip your workout, but keep in mind that arthritis sufferers who continually skip exercise are more likely to experience loss of muscle tone and flexibility, decreased joint motion and a progressive thinning and softening of bone and cartilage.

    While you can’t stop the aging process, there are simple steps to prevent unnecessary damage or wear to your joints and to reduce joint pain or swelling beyond increasing activity and exercise.

    Start by eating more joint friendly, anti-inflammatory foods. These include fruits like apricots, cantaloupe, kiwi and blueberries, and vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, and cauliflower. These foods have been shown to reduce inflammation and help remove the toxins that cause inflammation in your body and worsen your arthritis. Add omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flax seeds, walnuts and avocados, these foods and foods high in antioxidants like berries also have been found to decrease the inflammation and joint swelling associated with your arthritis.

    A healthy lifestyle that includes following an anti-inflammatory diet and participating in a regular exercise program are important parts of your arthritis treatment program. When combined, they reduce the effects of the arthritis by:

    1. Encouraging the flow of blood and synovial fluid to your joints.
    2. Strengthening the supporting structures including muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
    3. Increasing the range of motion and flexibility of the affected joints.
    4. Increasing antioxidants that reduce swelling.
    5. Reducing the processed sugars, starches and toxins that promote inflammation.

    Don’t let your pain keep you from living a healthy, happy life. Take control of your arthritis today!

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  • December 6, 2016 /  Miscelleaneous

    I asked Jennifer Scott to be my guest this month. She has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager and has made it her mission to advocate for mental health.

    4 Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining Tips

     

    This year, make it a point to put the “happy” back in Happy Holidays by doing all that you can to make your entertaining stress-free. It is especially important to have a stress-free holiday season if you have anxiety or seasonal affective disorder or are a recovering addict looking to maintain your sobriety. No matter your reason for trying to have a more enjoyable holiday, our four tips will help you achieve your goal.

    1. Make your plan

    The best move you can make to ensure you make it through holiday entertaining with the least stress possible is to be proactive and make a plan. One way to be as prepared as possible is to work with an organizer or blank calendar and plan what you need to do each day before the party. Don’t overlook any task, even if it’s something simple like cleaning off the counter and table, because you don’t want to forget something in the chaos of preparing. Making a plan will also help you remember items such as napkins and ice that often get overlooked.

    2. Know your limits

    While you may be envisioning a perfect holiday table and meal, crisply wrapped gifts, and lush centerpieces, you need to know your limits and be realistic about your expectations and abilities. If you don’t have time to do it all, don’t attempt to. Use some of these quick tips to help you prepare for your holiday gathering:

    • Ask your guests to bring the side dishes, order dessert, and spend your time focusing on appetizers and the main entrée.
    • Get a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree to save time stringing lights and cleaning up the mess from the needles and branches.
    • Prep food in advance by cooking or baking food that can be frozen. The more food you prepare ahead of time, the more you will be able to spend time with friends and family instead of in the kitchen.
    • Make quick and easy centerpieces with boughs and pinecones from outside. Decorate with Christmas ornaments or bells placed inside glass hurricanes or underneath wine glasses that you flip upside down.
    • Use gift bags instead of taking the time to wrap presents.

    Knowing that nobody expects everything to be perfect can take a huge weight off your shoulders and help you enjoy your time with friends and family.

    3. Stock up on appetizers and drinks

    You never know if people who did not RSVP will show up anyway, or if your guests will bring along additional people without telling you first. It’s a good idea to stock up on appetizers that have a longer shelf life, such as crackers and cheese, cookies, mixed nuts, salsa, and chips so that you can feed extra guests without feeling stressed.

    Having additional drinks on hand also is a smart entertaining trick. If you don’t have enough free refrigerator space and you live in a cooler climate, put drinks outside on a porch or in a garage to cool down naturally. Soda, cider, coffee, cocoa, and tea are beverages you should have an abundance of during the holiday season.

    4. Make having fun a priority

    When making your lists for food, gifts, and entertaining necessities, don’t forget to include a list for fun. If you plan activities for your holiday gatherings that you are excited about participating in, you’ll be more likely to put down the hostess hat and pick up the party hat. Holiday crafts for the whole family will keep everyone entertained if you are hosting out-of-town family members for a few days. Put the kids in charge of decorating the tree with the homemade ornaments you make to save you some decorating time, too.

    If your party is for friends and adults, plan to play some Christmas party games that are sure to get everyone laughing and get you out of the kitchen. You can play some old-fashioned games such as charades or Pin the Red Nose on Rudolph, or you can play some trendy adult games such as Cards Against Humanity and 5 Second Rule.

    Reducing your stress during the holidays is important to helping you have a happy, healthy season. Following our four tips will help you not just get through holiday entertaining but truly enjoy it.

    Image via Pixabay by StartupStockPhotos

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  • November 29, 2016 /  Miscelleaneous

    The Impact of Pets on a Senior’s HealthThere’s nothing like coming home to a happy pet that’s excited to see you! Did you know that it’s good for your health as well? While it might seem that the responsibility of a pet is too much for some seniors, the positive aspects far outweigh the negatives. There’s been a lot research done on the subject, and the results are significant. Let’s look over some of the benefits, how to decide if it’s right for you, and how to care for your pet long-term.

    Caring for a pet gives you a sense of purpose, which is particularly important for older people. It reduces stress levels and can help lower anxiety. A study conducted by the University of South Carolina discovered that simply petting a dog lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Clearly, animal companions are very beneficial to both the young and the old.

    Cats and dogs are the most popular pet choices, though many enjoy caring for birds, reptiles, rabbits, and a variety of other animals. For this article, however, we’ll focus on our feline and canine friends.

    Cats are a favorite choice of seniors. The benefit of these companions is that they need less direct attention than a dog does. They clean themselves, tend to be quiet, and enjoy lying around doing nothing! Many of them love to cuddle with their owners, or simply lay in bed next to them.

    You might consider adopting an older cat, rather than a kitten, as they will have a calmer nature. Several cat breeds work especially well for the elderly. One is the British Shorthair, who is mellow, independent, and plays alone happily. Russian Blues are quiet yet loving, preferring to stay close to their owners, and Persians are known to be affectionate and gentle.

    Dogs have always been popular, with families, single adults, and seniors. They are an excellent choice for many. What about you? Easy-natured breeds include Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Greyhounds, and Bichon Frises.

    There are a few things to consider before taking on this responsibility. One is how often you can walk your dog, and take them outside for fresh air. Another is the concept of dog training – is this dog already trained? Is it a puppy that’ll need a lot of attention at first? The expense of food, flea products, vet visits, and the like, should all be factored into your decision.

    These questions can all be addressed. First, choosing an adult dog that has already been housebroken and taught manners will be less work. You can utilize dog-walking services, or ask an in-home caretaker to help out. Family members might be willing to come walk them every couple days, or to take them for grooming. Some veterinarians make house calls, as well as some grooming businesses. There are local groups and programs that offer help for seniors with pets.

    You’ll also want to prepare for the possibility that your pet may outlive you. It’s not uncommon for family members to take the pets to a shelter to be euthanized, being unsure of what else to do. This isn’t something many people think of, but there are definitely active steps you can take now to ensure your pet’s wellbeing. It can be difficult for many seniors to contemplate their own deaths, but preparing in advance will bring you peace of mind.

    Do you have a designated caregiver who is committed to being in charge of your pet’s future? This could be a family member, a good friend, or even a long-term pet sitter you trust. Next, write up a few pages detailing specifics such as their favorite brand of food, any medications they need, and their daily routine. In the case of an emergency, your pet won’t be able to vocalize what they need, so it’s up to you. You can even set aside a fund to cover future expenses.

    Don’t simply rely on an informal conversation. Include the information in a will or trust. Seek legal advice on the best way to go about this.

    In summary, caring for a pet goes a long way in fighting the loneliness many retirees and elderly feel. They act as friends who are always around for a hug. Seniors often have a great deal of experience in nurturing others, and pets can provide an outlet for this need even when children are grown and out of the house. Taking care of another living thing again often leads to a senior caring for themselves better too!

    For additional resources, check out the Placer County SPCA. They offer a variety of services and can provide support.

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  • November 15, 2016 /  Miscelleaneous

    In recent years, it’s become simpler and easier for seniors to browse the internet.How Seniors Can Stay Safe on the Internet According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 59% of seniors use the internet regularly. It’s a convenient way to keep in touch with family and friends, utilize it for banking and personal bills, and to find useful information such as the article you’re reading now. In fact, the Gerontological Society of America found that using the internet can actually reduce depression in seniors, connecting them to others in very positive ways.

    Unfortunately, the internet is not always a safe place to be. There are 4 basic guidelines to follow that will help protect you!

    Basic Security

    Your installed operating systems, internet browser, and user software must be continually updated to not only ensure that programs function properly but also as a safeguard against possible threats. Computers should also have recommended anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software installed as a safety precaution. Households using wireless technology or external hard drives should also implement password options for their software.

    Email

    Email and other online accounts must be secured with strong passwords. Creating phrases that combine upper and lowercase letters in addition to numbers and symbols enhance security by making them virtually impossible to hack. That means you don’t want a password composed of your pet’s name and your birth year! It’s also very helpful to use different passwords for different accounts. To help remember your passwords, write them down and store them somewhere secure.

    Fraud Alerts

    Beware of emails or messages that claim you won a contest or a lottery in which you never entered. Other scams include unscrupulous individuals claiming to be a relative in need of money or someone requesting assistance with fund transfers. Be on the lookout for obviously misspelled words and grammatical errors that often indicate scammers from a foreign country.

    Other signs of fraud include urgent messages from seemingly authentic institutions or organizations. Never supply anyone with financial information, passwords, names, addresses, social security numbers or other personal information. If you’ve been contacted by someone that looks like they work at your bank, for example, but they’re asking for your social security number, beware! An official organization will already have this information and would not need to ask for it.

    As a rule of thumb, avoid opening emails from addresses you don’t recognize and people you don’t know personally.

    Online Purchases

    While looking to book a trip or make a purchase, you may stumble across a deal that seems too good to be true. It probably is. Buying and selling online is a great way to shop, especially if you have physical limitations. Just make sure you choose a reputable vendor. Ask your friends and family where they shop online, or if they know of a certain website you’re considering using. You can also do an internet search for online reviews from others.

    When you make transactions online and use personal information that requires the transfer of funds, make sure that the site has indications that it is secure. Legitimate sites commonly feature security emblems and privacy notices. Many have https addresses that include a closed padlock next to the site address. Never enter personal information on pop-up windows.

    The internet is a useful resource for seniors, but you need to be equipped with the right knowledge beforehand. Apply these principles and you can enjoy your time online while also staying safe!

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