• 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!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • December 12, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    The Benefits of Dance for Seniors

    Many health organizations recommend seniors remain physically active to avoid or postpone health issues ranging from cognitive decline to cardiovascular disease. Dancing is an excellent option that many older ones love. The health benefits range from improving your physical health to creating strong social connections that increase your sense of happiness and well-being.

    If you’d like to get started, try checking local community centers and retirement homes for free or inexpensive dance classes aimed at senior citizens. Enrolling in one of these age-specific programs ensures the moves will be appropriate for individual strength levels. Additionally, they provide great opportunities for socialization with other seniors.

    Here are 5 key benefits, and the science that supports them.

    1. Reduce depression: While depression is a serious illness that must be treated by a doctor, you can still do everything within your power to boost your mood. A group of Australian researchers found that men and women with mood disorders who participated in a two-week tango instruction program felt less depressed, and experienced significant reductions in their levels of stress, anxiety and insomnia.
    2. Improve strength: Even just a few weeks of dance classes can improve your strength, according to a study published in the journal Gerontology. The study authors noted that dance was a safe and feasible exercise program for most older adults. They also noted the high adherence rate of the program—over 92 percent of the seniors who started ended up completing the eight-week salsa dancing regimen.
    3. Alleviate stiffness: A Saint Louis University (SLU) study recently concluded that after engaging in a 12-week, low-impact dance program, participants with an average age of 80 years old were able to decrease the amount of pain medication they were taking by 39 percent. They were also able to move around more easily—a key determinant in remaining independent. “Walking just a little more rapidly can make enough of a difference for a person to get across the street more quickly or get to the bathroom faster, which keeps them functional and independent,” says study author Jean Krampe, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at SLU. Any medication changes should be discussed with your primary care physician.
    4. Defend against dementia: When compared to other leisure activities (e.g. playing golf, doing crosswords, reading, cycling, etc.) dancing actually appears to offer the best chance of helping stave off dementia. According to a 21-year study led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, aging adults who danced regularly had a 76 percent reduced risk for developing dementia. Experts theorize that dancing is beneficial for our brains because it combines cardiovascular exercise with split-second decision-making that taxes our neural network, forcing it to create new pathways.
    5. A realistic goal: Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease: What do all of these conditions have in common? They don’t prohibit you from dancing. Research into using dance as a therapy for each of these ailments has unearthed a host of advantages, with very few risks. However, it’s important to always be sure and check with a doctor before embarking on a rigorous dancing regime, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions.

    So, what are you waiting for? Call up a friend to join you, and enjoy an hour or two dancing your cares away!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • December 1, 2017 /  Basics

    How Seniors Can Stay Safe in the Winter
    Cold weather can be a bother for anyone, but for seniors it can be dangerous. They are particularly vulnerable to complications from winter weather, with the flu and falls on the top of the list. It’s important to be aware of the many hazards winter can bring. Here’s what to do, and not to do, to stay safe!


    Do prevent falls in icy conditions

    Preventing falls is critical. Keep driveways, porches, ramps and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Put down salt to melt the ice and to provide extra stability. Also, be sure to wear rubber-soled boots or shoes. In addition, add non-skid pads to your shoes, as well as new treads on canes and walkers. You can ask friends, family, or caregivers for help with any of these.

    Do clear the driveway regularly

    Enlist the help of a neighbor or hire a local service that will plow and shovel on a regular basis. Also, if possible, invest in a good snow blower. Manual snow shoveling is strenuous, time-consuming and sometimes dangerous work. Many seniors will prefer to ask someone else for help with this task.

    Do make sure that your house is well heated

    Before the start of winter, you should make sure the furnace or gas heaters have been serviced. Change the filter on the furnace. Make sure the propane tank is full. Use only modern space heaters. Keep them away from flammable objects, such as clothes, blankets or curtains. Also, have extra blankets, sweaters and slippers within easy reach of your bed, couch, or wherever you spend the most time.

    Do prepare for the worst-case scenario

    One bad snowstorm can cause a great deal of havoc. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario, like losing power for a week or more. If there is a generator for the house, make sure it is serviced. If not, have one installed that is powerful enough to run a few lights and essential appliances during a power outage. Stock up on water, batteries, candles and canned food. Always keep a disaster kit handy.

    Do stock up on medical supplies

    Health conditions, such as incontinence, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease, don’t take snow days. Traveling during storms to purchase needed medical supplies can be dangerous. In some weather conditions driving is impossible. Purchase home medical products online. You can choose from an array of products for every kind of health condition. No matter the weather, the products arrive in a fast and timely way. In some cases, they arrive the same day.


    Don’t shovel alone

    Never shovel snow alone. The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snowdrifts puts a huge strain on the heart. Shoveling also increases the chance of a fall, injuries and muscle strains. Ask for help. If you’re active enough to manage it, be sure you still have someone who can come help out, and can be there should you need them.

    Don’t leave the house without properly dressing for the cold

    Winter storms can leave motorists stranded. Individuals with compromised health are more sensitive to the cold and need extra layers for warmth. Make sure that you are well dressed in case of an accident before heading out. Also, make sure you have a windproof coat, hat, gloves and waterproof boots – even for short trips. It’s also a good idea to leave extra winter clothing, snacks and water in the car at all times.

    Don’t forget to hydrate

    Seniors and those who are sick are more prone to wintertime dehydration. The air is drier and they tend to feel less thirsty. Nevertheless, it’s vital to keep hydrated. Fill a pitcher each morning to serve as a reminder to yourself to drink eight glasses of water. Add lemon slices or juice to flavor the water. This makes it easier to drink.

    Don’t overlook the importance of car maintenance

    In the winter we tend to drive less. For this reason, too often we let car maintenance slide. Keep your car – if you still drive – running well. Make sure the tires are in good shape and can handle winter conditions. Also, make sure the antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids are full. Keep the gas tank above half-full at all times. Otherwise, condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank in sub-freezing temperatures. This causes the fuel line to freeze-up. A reliable car is crucial during the cold months, especially in case of a medical emergency.

    With these simple steps, and some help from loved ones, you can enjoy this wonderful time of the year to its fullest!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • November 15, 2017 /  Dementia

    10 Brain Exercises to Help Prevent Dementia

    In the past we’ve shared valuable tips on how physical exercise can help reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Now it’s time to look at working out your brain, in ways that might help prevent the development of these devastating diseases.

    You want to take care of your whole self as you get older, and that includes keeping your brain running at peak performance. Just as it’s important to get up and get moving with some daily exercise, you can’t overlook giving your mental muscles some exercises to do, too. Scientists agree that training your brain helps keep it healthy, letting it form new neuro-connections and preserving the older ones.

    Another benefit of challenging your brain each day is that you will notice any changes early on. For instance, if you find that your daily crossword has become much more challenging than in the past, it might be a good idea to mention it to your doctor. They might recommend ways to help prevent future mental deterioration, including supplements, nutritional changes, and the like.

    Common Symptoms of Cognitive Impairment

    These are some of the signs of mild cognitive impairment that could be a signal to you that it is time to see your doctor and get started right away on your mental workout:

    • Forgetting important events/dates
    • Easily distracted
    • More impulsive
    • Difficulty with abstract thinking
    • Trouble finding the right word for something
    • Lose train of thought in conversations
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Trouble finding your way around familiar places
    • Neglecting personal nutrition and hygiene

    All of these can simply be signs of getting older, but it’s always a good idea to keep your brain in shape to help keep you sharp as you age. Don’t worry. Exercising your brain doesn’t have to feel like a return to your school days. There are plenty of games and exercises that are fun and stimulating without feeling like homework.

    10 Ways to Get Your Brain in Shape


    Crossword puzzles, in addition to the many other kinds of word or number puzzles, are excellent exercises for mental stimulation. They help improve or maintain your recall abilities, and changing up from one puzzle to the next helps stimulate different areas of your brain, keeping your nerves functioning properly. They work out the part of your brain that relates to reasoning and problem solving, one of the first areas to be impacted by dementia.

    Learn Something New

    Don’t ever think that you’re too old to learn something new. There are hundreds of classes available online for free about a wide range of topics. You don’t have to be working towards a degree to take advantage of these resources. Just find a topic that you’ve always wanted to know more about and sign up. You can also sign up to learn a new language or take a cooking class. Learning new things helps improve self-esteem and memory while strengthening the connections between different parts of your brain.

    Read More Books

    Reading is a low-stress activity that offers hours of enjoyment. You are limited only by your personal preferences when it comes to books. Dust off that library card or visit your local secondhand bookstore to find a new adventure in fiction, or choose to learn something new with the plethora of non-fiction works available. Cutting back on the amount of TV you watch can also reduce your risk of dementia, so let yourself get swept up into a book series instead of a television series.

    Play with Children

    Doctors have found that adults who spend time playing with children have lower levels of stress as well as reduced blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate. Play can also improve mood, which is an important element in keeping your brain operating at its highest level. If you have grandchildren, playing with them won’t just benefit you – it will benefit them emotionally as well!


    As we’ve talked about in our previous posts, regular exercise is an important part of keeping the brain healthy. The more you exercise, and the healthier you eat, the better your mental well-being will be compared to people who avoid those things.

    Grow a Green Thumb

    Gardening has been proven as an activity that helps improve mood and brain function, but no one really knows why. Perhaps it’s the probiotics in the soil, exposure to natural light, or simply the joy of seeing something grow, but gardeners have shown lower levels of stress and improvement in cognitive abilities, and an alleviation of dementia symptoms.


    Yoga gives you all of the benefits of exercise but with much less impact on your body. Combine yoga with meditation and you’ve got a great balance for mind-body health. It helps improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and increases neuroplasticity.

    Listen to Music

    Researchers have shown that the brain of a musician has better recall of large chunks of data, plus the connections between short term and long-term memory are closer than the average person’s. More studies are being done to see how music therapy can help people fight dementia.

    Hand-Eye Coordination Work

    Activities like knitting and needlework are excellent ways to keep your brain stimulated and functioning at a high level. People who have these types of hobbies have been found to recall information more easily. These activities improve concentration, and are considered a natural antidepressant!

    Play Games

    There are tons of apps you can add to your phone that are geared towards building your mental muscle. They offer a variety of games and puzzles you can do on the go. Some that you should check out include Lumosity, CleverMind, and the Brain Trainer App. These are handy to have when you’re waiting at a doctor’s office, on your commute, or even when you have a little downtime at home.

    Dementia and Alzheimer’s are a risk for any adult as they get older. Doing whatever you can to help reduce your risk of developing these diseases can be fun, stimulating, and keep you feeling like yourself for many years to come, so don’t wait. Start exercising your brain today!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • October 25, 2017 /  Basics

    7 Ways We Can Keep Our Home Safe

    It’s a fact of life that as we age, our safety concerns increase. Physical changes associated with aging may raise new issues in your home, so it’s important to create a safe environment for independent living. And it’s never too early to start! It’s better to make these adjustments now so you don’t have to worry about them a decade down the line.  Fortunately, there are many ways to make your home environment much safer.

    1. Fire Safety

    While smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are essential safety equipment in every home, placing these items in easy-to-access locations is especially important in the home of a senior citizen. Impaired hearing may make it difficult to hear an alarm sounding in another part of the house, so it’s important to place carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors in frequently used spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, and the living room. Likewise, impaired mobility may make it more difficult to get to a fire extinguisher quickly for small fires, so store several in easy-to-reach places such as in a kitchen cupboard, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, and in the living room. If possible, make smoke detectors part of a monitored alarm system, which decreases fire department response time.

    2. Safer Bathrooms

    Showers can be slick, making them dangerous for those with limited mobility or poor eyesight. There are multiple ways to increase the safety of baths and showers.

    • Grab bars help with stability, and can prevent slips and falls. Likewise, a grab bar installed near the entrance to a tub or shower will give you something to hold onto when stepping over the edge of the tub. Install grab bars at arm height, as well as one at about waist height. You can also install a grab bar next to the toilet so you can pull yourself up and safely lower yourself.
    • Rubber mats or decals render tile less slippery, minimizing the risk of slipping and falling.
    • Shower seats give you a place to safely sit during a shower. These improve safety by allowing you to sit if you feel dizzy or tired. Choose a sturdy seat that affixes firmly to the floor of the tub or shower.
    • Walk-in tubs and showers eliminate the risk associated with the high-step into the bath tub/shower that is a fall hazard.
    • Taller toilets make it easier to get up and down. Many major manufacturers make toilets with higher seats, which can improve safety for those with mobility impairments.

    3. Monitored Alarm Systems

    Along with a monitored fire alarm system, you’ll be safer with monitored burglar alarms, as well as a personal emergency response and home safety alert system. Choose monitored alarm systems that have easily accessible panic buttons. These systems provide easy ways for you to call for help if you’re injured, sick, or unable to get to a telephone.

    4. More Lighting

    Inadequate lighting may cause accidents. Make sure all high-traffic areas (such as the living room and bedroom) have bright, easily accessible lighting. Install automated and safety lighting inside and outside of the house. Outside, install motion activated safety lights, which can provide visibility after dark and may discourage intruders, as well. Inside, install an automated lighting system so you can easily access and turn on lights without having to cross a room to find a light switch.

    5. Safer Stairs

    Indoor and outdoor stairs may also create hazards. Take the following precautions to make stairs safer.

    • Outside, install non-skid strips on steps and porches to provide extra traction when they are wet.
    • Tighten all handrails and banisters to provide a sturdy support for ascending and descending stairs. If stairs do not have a handrail, install one at slightly lower than elbow height.
    • Remove runners from stairways, which can be a tripping hazard.
    • Indoors on wooden stairs, install non-skid strips.
    • Install ramps if you use a walker or wheelchair.

    6. Outdoor Safety

    Outdoor areas have a number of safety hazards that need to be secured to keep you safe.

    • Trim trees, plants, and hedges so they don’t infringe on walkways.
    • Maintain adequate outdoor lighting. Consider installing pathway lighting to help improve nighttime visibility.
    • Fix cracked, broken, or displaced pavers and tiles, which can be tripping hazards.
    • Level rough patches of lawn that may have bumps or holes that can be tripping hazards.
    • Install non-skid decking, or use materials on decks to keep it safer in wet weather.
    • Fix broken steps and loose or uneven boards on decks and porches.
    • Tighten handrails and deck rails so they are secure to grip.
    • Keep sidewalks clear of debris that could cause trips and falls.

    7. Bedroom

    Make bedrooms safer with several bedroom upgrades.

    • Install sturdy bed rails to assist with getting in and out of bed.
    • Place a phone next to the bed and post emergency phone numbers where they are easy to see.
    • Create some kind of emergency escape in case of fire, such as a window safety slide.
    • Adjust bed height so it is not too difficult to get in or out of. Medical professionals suggest a safe bed height is at knee level or lower. An adjustable bed can also increase safety, making it safer for you to get in and out of bed.
    • Use a firm mattress on the bed, which makes it easier to get off the bed.
    • Place lighting controls next to the bed and just inside the door so you don’t have to cross the room in the dark.
    • Install a night-light or small lamp in en-suite bathrooms so it’s easier to find the way in the dark.

    While we may not have the ability to stop ourselves aging (or stop the physical declines associated), we can make large changes to our home environment to accommodate them. By taking steps to improve your surrounding environment, you can greatly increase your health, safety, and longevity!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • October 16, 2017 /  Basics, Dementia

    Reduce Your Dementia Risk With Exercise

    In our last article, we discussed what proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Today we’re going to go into further detail on one such step: regular exercise.

    Many older adults find that with age fitness is more difficult to maintain. You may face chronic pain, fatigue, or illnesses that limit your physical abilities. Additionally, if you’re isolated from friends and family you might lack the motivation to exercise on your own. There’s still plenty you can do, however! Let’s learn why exercise plays such an important role in reducing one’s risk for these serious diseases, and how you can incorporate it into your own life.

    Scientific Evidence

    What scientific evidence is there to support this claim? As one reference, we can look at a study done by neuroscientist Art Kramer. He scanned the brains of 120 older adults, half of whom started a program of moderate aerobic exercise — just 45 minutes, three days a week, mostly walking. After a year, the MRI scans showed that for the aerobic group, the volume of their brains actually increased.

    What’s more, individuals in the control group lost about 1.5 percent of their brain volume, adding up to a 3.5 percent difference between individuals who took part in aerobic exercise and those who did not. Further tests showed that increased brain volume translated into better memory.

    This isn’t an isolated case. Bryan James is an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. He conducted a study in which he looked at a different measure of activity — something he calls “life space.” He added up how often people got out of their bedroom, went out of their house, traveled out of their neighborhood or out of town. “The people who never left their home — even though they didn’t seem to have any cognitive problems when we started following them — were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over five years,” James says.

    Why exactly does this happen? Increased aerobic capacity has benefits for the metabolism and physiological function of the brain. A protein known as brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is known to be important in the development, survival, and plasticity of nerve cells called neurons. It’s also important in protecting against neuro-degeneration that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia.

    Regular aerobic exercise boosts the level of BDNF by 2-3 times, and clearly the more often you exercise, the more prolonged the effect. We all deal with stress and fear in our everyday life, requiring our brains to constantly adapt. Since exercise has been shown to help us do this, it may well explain how it can be effective in reducing the risk of depression, anxiety, and dementia.

    What You Can Do

    As mentioned, this blog has covered the topic of fitness in the past. There are 3 common threads among them: start with easy, gentle exercises until you know your personal limits; reach out to family and friends for support, or look for a group to join; and have fun! By finding activities you really enjoy doing, you ensure that you continue to do them with regularity.

    For more, check out our past articles regarding fitness and overall wellness:

    4 Ways to Stay Active as a Senior

    How To Exercise When You Have Arthritis

    Five Wellness Tips for Seniors

    Speaking of Exercise

    Does this mean that you can 100% prevent dementia? Sadly, no. There are a myriad of factors that influence someone’s risk. However, you can play an active role in your own future health, and do a great deal of good for your brain!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • October 2, 2017 /  Dementia

    Lifestyle Tips to Help Prevent Dementia

    For those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, forgetting names and misplacing keys is more than just a frustration – it can feel like a sign of what’s to come. But we are more than our genes and in fact, for the vast majority, it’s lifestyle choices that represent the biggest dementia risk factors.

    Change is hard, and it’s unrealistic to try to completely transform your life just for the sake of making changes. A smarter move would be to take manageable steps that will actually make a provable impact. Taking a look at scientific evidence can help you make those changes.

    Improve Your Daily Routine

    From how you spend your daylight hours to how well you sleep at night, it’s your daily routine that impacts your health the most.

    • Quit smoking.A daily habit of lighting up can be a dementia risk factor, research shows. In 2014, the World Health Organization found that smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. Be aware of second-hand smoke exposure too – it may increase your dementia risk by nearly the same amount as if you were holding the cigarette. For tips on quitting, read our previous article on the subject here.
    • Sleep better.The CDC estimates that 50-70 million U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep. Studies suggest that slumber is essential to brain health. As you snooze, your brain resets and cleans out the hormones and chemicals it used during the day. One of the chemicals that is scrubbed away each night is amyloid-beta, a chemical that forms brain plaque – a key suspect in what causes Alzheimer’s.
    • Exercise regularly.One of the signs of dementia is loss of brain mass. A 2013 study conducted by Maryland School of Public Health researchers tracked four groups of healthy adults aged 65-89 – those with high and low Alzheimer’s risk and those with high and low activity levels. Only one group lost brain mass – those who had both a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and who also did not exercise. If you need ideas on how to start getting fit, read our article about how to stay active!

    Fuel Your Body

    Your body and your brain run on what you consume. There is a significant amount of science on which foods can help reduce your dementia risk.

    • Drink raw fruit and vegetable juices.A 2006 study from Vanderbilt University found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week could cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76 percent.
    • Eat less sugar.Diabetes may not cause Alzheimer’s directly, but the two diseases share the same root cause – the body not using insulin properly. According to research published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal in 2011, diabetics are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and have an increased risk of developing dementia of any kind.
    • Eat more fish.Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against brain atrophy, which is associated dementia. An eight-year study lead by University of South Dakota researchers found that women with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood had 2.7 percent larger brain volume – that means their brain atrophied less. Plus, those who reported eating seafood at least once a week were less likely to have the dementia-related brain plaque.

    Strengthen Your Brain

    Protect your brain’s health by strengthening the areas often targeted by dementia.

    • Learn a new language.In 2013, a study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal found that participants who spoke a second language developed dementia 4.5 years later than their monolingual counterparts.
    • Do new things.Simply put, learning new skills helps enhance cognitive function. In a 2013 University of Texas at Dallas study, participants learned quilting or digital photography for three months. They found that no matter if the participants learned the skill alone or with others, their memory of past events was enhanced. The key is to find and spend time mastering new hobbies that make your brain think in new ways.
    • Meditation not only lowers stress – research suggests it can help reduce brain atrophy. A study from the Jena University Hospital in Germany found that the brains of people who meditated regularly appeared on average seven years younger than their true age.

    Dementia may not be inevitable. The studies highlighted here seem to suggest that it’s possible to influence and change your dementia risk factors. Know the science so you can take control and face dementia head-on!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • September 11, 2017 /  Basics

    The Importance of Dental Care for Seniors

    You might be surprised to learn how much your dental health says about your physical well-being. Periodontal disease is a precursor for some pretty serious medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The healthier our mouths are, the healthier our bodies will be. And fortunately, it’s not that hard to care for them!

    Risks and Dangers

    The aging process begins to affect oral health and puts seniors at higher risk for several common oral health problems such as:

    • Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is a condition where the mouth stops making necessary amounts of saliva. It’s a common side effect of many medications, cancer treatments, and dehydration. More than being a nuisance, decreased saliva production puts seniors at a higher risk for developing gingivitis, tooth decay, and mouth infections such as thrush. The dentist may recommend specialized mouthwashes or the implementation of a humidifier to help keep the mouth moist.
    • Root Decay. Typically, gums begin to recede with age, and as a result of gum disease. This will eventually leave the higher parts of the tooth, which are the lower portions of the roots, exposed and vulnerable to acids and other substances that lead to their decay. If dental roots are damaged beyond repair, it leads to dental extractions.
    • Gum Disease. Also called periodontal disease or gingivitis, gum disease is most commonly caused by an accumulation of plaque on the teeth and along the gum lines. This hard substance allows bacteria to grow, causing inflammation (gingivitis) that leads to gum disease – the leading cause of tooth loss. Other common causes include smoking, use of dentures, poor diet, and certain diseases.
    • Tooth Loss. As mentioned above, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Losing your natural teeth is a serious business. While dentures may seem synonymous with old age, they are also synonymous with poor diet and a deterioration of the gum tissue and jawbone. Dentures are typically uncomfortable and make it difficult for seniors to eat well, which leads to malnourishment, a compromised immune system, and susceptibility to other medical conditions. The longer you can keep your own healthy teeth, the better!
    • Uneven jawbone. Your teeth, gums, and jaw have a very close relationship. When the teeth go missing or are extracted, the gums and jawbone begin to diminish, which can lead to misshapen jaws. If you break or lose a tooth, get to the dentist immediately to determine the best solution. Implants or well-fitting bridges and dentures will help to slow down receding gums and jaws.
    • Denture-induced stomatitis. Dentures must be cleaned, maintained, and fitted on a regular basis or they can contribute to disease of the mouth. Denture-induced stomatitis can occur with poorly fitting dentures, poor oral hygiene, or an accumulation of a fungus called Candida albicans, which causes the gums to become inflamed and potentially infected.
    • Thrush. This is the same condition that can affect babies and young children. It is a symptom of a compromised immune system and is the result of a build-up of the aforementioned fungus.

    What You Can Do

    We all know brushing and flossing twice a day is important for oral health. But there’s more to maintaining dental care than that. Here are expert tips from the American Dental Association that are good guidelines to follow:

    • Brush twice a day with a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride-containing toothpaste
    • Use an electric toothbrush
    • Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another inter-dental cleaner
    • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day
    • If you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis – Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day, and know that it’s best to remove them at night
    • Quit smoking – Besides putting you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss
    • Visit the dentist on a regular schedule for a complete dental check-up, cleaning and oral exams
    • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes dairy and high-fiber foods

    Seniors in general are the most likely to stop seeing the dentist, especially in cases where dental insurance is no longer covered by a retirement health plan. The good news is that most dentists offer special rates for seniors and those who do not have dental insurance. They are often willing to work with you on payment plans. Seniors can also apply for CareCredit, which can be used like a credit card for dental and other health services.

    Schedule your next dental checkup today, because dental care for seniors is crucial to overall health!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • July 10, 2017 /  Basics

    How Older Ones Can Stay Safe in the Summer

    The summer is now here in full force and in most areas of the country there are times that it gets dangerously hot. The fact is, older ones are more susceptible to its ill effects. As you get older, your sweat glands are less active, and make it harder for your body to eliminate heat. Even seniors as young as their 60s still have a higher risk in the heat, especially if they have any chronic health conditions.

    There are 4 basic, vital steps that everyone should take to protect themselves. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns as well, and see what advice they have for you.

    1. Sun Protection: First and foremost, you need to protect yourself before you even step outside. And that means more than applying sunscreen! You should absolutely wear it, though, any time you go out. Even when in the shade, or when it doesn’t seem too sunny, you should still apply it. You’d be surprised how much exposure you get even at those times!

    The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using “broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher”. This level of SPF filters out about 97 perfect on the sun’s UV radiation. Broad-spectrum ensures that you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Sunscreen can only do so much. You need to protect yourself additionally by wearing broad-rimmed hats and sunglasses. Choose loose-fitting clothing made from a breathable fabric such as cotton, and choose lighter colors. Avoid prolonged exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hottest part of the day.

    2. Keep Hydrated: Most adults need about two quarts (64 ounces) of fluids every day, but that amount increases with heat and humidity and can change based on various medications. Drink plenty of cool water throughout the day, and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which will actually dehydrate you.

    If you struggle to drink enough water, remember that you can get extra hydration by eating water-rich foods such as cucumbers and watermelon. You can also purchase flavored waters, drink a half-and-half mixture of fruit juice and water, and include plenty of ice in your usual favorite beverage. But in the end, these need to be an accompaniment to a consistent intake of water throughout your day.

    3. Cool Down: What steps can you take to stay cool throughout the day? If you feel very hot and uncomfortable, try a cool shower, or sit with your feet in a basin of cold water. Keep your AC at a reasonable temperature. If you’re out and about, be sure to have air-conditioned places around you – this includes coffee shops, libraries, stores, and the like. This is a great way to get mild exercise, too. Some seniors enjoy walking around malls in the early morning, especially if they have a friend to join them.

    4. Watch for Signs of Heat Stroke: Even if you follow all of these steps, as a senior you’re more prone to experience heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Part of the reason for this is that older ones have a harder time, on average, monitoring and adjusting to big changes in temperature. As the CDC points out, “People aged 65 years or older are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.”

    According to the Mayo Clinic, heat stroke symptoms include:

    • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
    • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
    • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
    • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
    • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
    • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
    • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
    • Headache. Your head may throb.

    If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate help. Call 911 and if you have any family or friends nearby, alert them to your situation, so they can stay with you until professional help arrives. In the meantime, some quick steps you can take include getting indoors or into the shade, removing excess or heavy clothing, and using a hand-held fan with a water mister.

    By following these guidelines, you can be sure to have a healthy, enjoyable summer!

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • July 4, 2017 /  Special Needs

    I know Lori Cochrane from our association at the local Professional Fiduciaries Association chapter where she is chair of the education committee. She is also a local, licensed professional fiduciary specializing in all matters of the person and practices a person-first-and-centered philosophy as a special needs and health care advocate. She earned her B.A. in Behavioral Psychology and her Master’s Degree in Special Education from CSU, Sacramento. She is a professional member of the National Guardianship Association, Professional Fiduciary Association of California, The Arc of California, and the Placer County BAR Association. She has been helping families during times of difficulty and transitions since 2000. Lori can be reached at 916-705-7309 or Lori@CochraneCSS.com.

    This is posted with permission and may also be found at:  https://www.cochranecss.com/single-post/2017/06/06/SPECIAL-NEEDS-PLANNING-Who-will-watch-over-my-child-with-special-needs-as-they-age-when-I-am-not-able

    Special Needs Planning: Who will watch over my child with special needs as they age when I am not able?

    For parents of a child with special needs many questions arise as the child becomes an adult;

    Will they be able to live independently? Will they have an adequate and dignified place to live? Will they be able to pay their own bills? Who will watch-over my child to ensure their needs are met?

    If you have come to the realization of life-long dependence for your child, planning for their transition into adulthood will go a long way to ease your mind. Before your child turns 18-years-old, becoming an adult, it is important to plan for who will make decisions on their behalf if they are not able. Consult with an attorney to discuss whether assigning an agent with power of attorney or establishing a court conservatorship is appropriate.

    Who can be assigned as a decision maker?

    Parents are the likeliest chosen decision makers. The usual recommendation is to select one parent primarily and the other parent as an alternate. Both parents may be assigned as co-conservators if your adult child does not have capacity.

    The usual recommendation when planning is to include a succession plan in the event you become unavailable, incapacitated, or die. You may consider including a close responsible adult as an alternate. Whoever is selected they must be over 18 years of age, and be willing to serve in this role.

    The qualities of a person best suited to act as a decision maker for a person with special needs is someone who will act in the best interest of the person, separate from their own interests. They must be trustworthy and capable as a strong advocate navigating and adapting the plan of care as the person ages. They must have the knowledge necessary to preserve the person’s public benefits and prudently manage their finances. Direct service providers or their employees may not serve in this role.

    There are professionals who specialize in this area who can help you plan, manage services, and advocate for your adult child’s best interest.

    How will I know when it’s time to seek help?

    Planning for your inability to serve as your child’s decision maker is wise. The loss of your ability or willingness to manage important things isn’t likely to be black and white or happen overnight. As time progresses and the realities of aging become known, you as a parent may find yourself less-willing or less-able to manage everything for your adult child. Maybe you are feeling it is best to be busy in your own lives or you want to help your adult child become less dependent on you.

    The need for less dependency or a less restrictive arrangement may become apparent. You may choose to step-back somewhat to provide your adult child the tools or resources which will be available to them as you become less available. Arranging for your adult child to live outside of your home with the necessary supports will be important to do before long. Finding an appropriate living arrangement along with navigating the maze of resources and public benefits, can be managed by a professional.  You might consider involving a licensed professional fiduciary to help with the transition between your adult child being your dependent, to your adult child living independent of you.

    What can a licensed professional fiduciary do to help the transition?

    Licensed professional fiduciaries provide critical services to help protect and maintain quality of life for vulnerable people. When it comes to people with special needs, some professional fiduciaries who specialize can identify critical needs, manage a person’s publicly provided services, protect their public benefits, and consult with doctors and attorneys as necessary.

    A Licensed professional fiduciary can open an *ABLE Act account on behalf of a person, and serve as the legal representative managing the account.

    A licensed professional fiduciary can also serve as a consultant, or as agent for power of attorney for health care and/or for finances. They can also serve as a court appointed conservator for a person with special needs under a limited conservatorship. Some fiduciaries specialize in serving as either health care agent or finance agent as trustee.

    In California, fiduciaries are licensed and regulated by the state of California’s Professional Fiduciary Bureau under the Department of Consumer Affairs.  You can learn about the high standards and stringent requirements licensed professional fiduciaries are held to by visiting their website at www.fiduciary.ca.gov.

    *You can learn more about the ABLE Act by visiting www.ablenrc.org.

    guardian visit

    Tags: , , , , ,