Welcome ...

All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alzheimer's disease promotes isolation

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and their caregivers say the illness leaves them feeling isolated and apart from family, friends and life’s typical connections, a report shows.
About a quarter of people with dementia hide or conceal their diagnosis because of the stigma surrounding the disease and 40 percent say they are excluded from everyday life, according to the World Alzheimer Report 2012 released today by London-based Alzheimer’s Disease International.
About 36 million people worldwide are living with dementia and the numbers will more than triple to 115 million by 2050, according to the report. The global cost of the disease is estimated at $604 billion. More education is needed about dementia, especially as seemingly healthy people are diagnosed earlier with the disease, said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services at the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travels with Scooter

Sometimes, traveling with a mobility scooter may not seem to be worth the effort. With the amount of care that goes into ensuring its functionality after long distances, many users of disability scooters have started looking for ways to rent a mobility device instead while being abroad.

Like renting a car, mobility scooter rentals vary depending on the model and make, insurance, and duration of use. There may also be the expense of renting an actual car for a traveling partner to assist with transporting the mobility scooter or wheelchair across longer distances. Fortunately, many places offer handicap passes to be placed on the car so that drivers can obtain prime parking spots near entrances and doorways.

It hasn’t always been easy to travel with disability scooters, especially with air transportation. Special requests have to be made long in advance to ensure that the plane holds enough space to store the device carefully. This also means extra handling fees are needed to dispatch special crews to manage the device with special attention. Even then, there are no guarantees that the mobility scooter will arrive unscathed.

To avoid the matter entirely, people have turned to renting at the place of destination. Even though most people are very attached to their own mobility scooter and have difficulty adjusting to a different one, many users have found it worth it to skirt the issue and simply rent upon arrival. While there aren’t many places that offer this yet, especially at international locations, it is slowly catching on as more and more people use disability scooters as their primary means of getting around.

Because of the lack of mobility rental locations, however, many users must still resort to finding ways to transport their scooter or electric wheelchair. Often time, this means settling for places that can be reached by car. The user’s travel partner will likely be in charge of loading and unloading the scooter at different destinations.  So while traveling by car is certainly the most convenient form of transportation for mobility scooter users, it can be limiting.

 All the same, users of disability scooters should not stop traveling because of their mobility device. Renting a scooter at the point of destination is steadily becoming commonplace, allowing mobility users to enjoy the same destinations and sites as anyone. When traveling by air, airports will often accommodate by using a manual wheelchair to move the user through security checkpoints and directly to the boarding gate. Once there, an airline agent will assist the user to their seat and provide assistance in flight and upon disembarking. In the airport at the destination, users can then seek out a mobility scooter for rent.

Renting a mobility scooter may take some adjustments, but for some it could be worth it to be able to travel without the hassle of transporting their own mobility scooter.  And because companies have to apply with federal regulations on mobility scooters, it’s a safe bet that a rental won’t look or feel any different from personal ones. Above all, it allows users of disability scooters to travel more efficiently and experience the same comforts as anyone while wandering the world.

Paul Stiner is the staff writer of AllMobilityScooters.com – a one stop resource for the mobility-challenged and all things mobility aid-related from Medicare assistance to parts and repair.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Activities for Aging in Place

written by Sarah Jennings, guest blogger

The most difficult part of post-employment life is the loneliness. Even if you don’t live alone, you probably crave the company of more than just one person. Even if you were not particularly buddy-buddy with anyone at your workplace, work offered a variety of people to interact with. Meeting people can be difficult if you don’t have anywhere to start. Luckily, no one at this age has to start with a blank slate. There are a few different places you can draw from to find people to associate with.

Old Friends
Maybe you haven’t talked to the boys from the office, or the girls from your old book club for years, but people you were close to in your younger life are great to catch up with. You can compare lives, brag on grandchildren, and talk about the other people you used to know. This will also give you some perspective about where you are in life and what you want to do while you still can.

The best way to find people to spend time with is to draw on your resources. If you attend church or any other weekly function, reach out and talk to new people. There are probably plenty of people you’ve known for years but never really gotten to know. Invite some of them to lunch or to try a yoga class with you or something.
Finding people isn’t the only difficult part though.  What are things you can actually do with limited funds and possibly mobility? Well, there’s actually a lot.

Community classes
Life is a never-ending parade of lessons. We never stop learning. So look into the offerings of your community to see what learning opportunities there are. The local recreation center probably offers a yoga class or another stretch-based exercise option. This is a great way for you to stay fit, learn something new, and meet people.
A local university or art studio might offer pottery or sculpture as a community class. These can be either low-cost or free depending on your location. Learning a new art style not only broadens your mind, but keeps you sharp. Adding skills to your repertoire as you get older keeps your mind strong and reminds you that you are still fully functional even though some days you may not feel like it.

Senior Centers
Senior Centers in your area probably offer a plethora of activities for both residents and non-residents. Senior centers are all about community so there is probably an easy way for you to get involved. By doing this, you can be a part of game tournaments, physical activities, and events such as shows, dances, and movie showings. These activities will also all be people-centered, so you are sure to make some new acquaintances.

It is important to get out in nature, as tempting as it might be to stay cooped up at home all day. Whether it’s just feeding the birds and reading a book in the park or going for a hike, find ways to get outside and enjoy the world. Have you always had a passion for photography? Utilize it now. Getting outside can be as simple as eating lunch on your porch or as involved as maintaining a garden.

Life after retirement can be full of time, and there are plenty of ways to fill the hours. Whether you are as active as ever or need to slow down a bit, you can find ways to fulfill lifelong dreams and satisfy curiosities. By utilizing your resources and accessing your goals from younger days, you can be sure to have a fulfilling retirement.

Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes for Brookedale Senior Living.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are you over indulging your grandchildren?

Americans are lavishing their kid's kids with money and gifts, even to the point of jeopardizing their own safety net.

New York Times columnist Kelly Greene offers insight into gifting responsibly.

Read article...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Great Activities for Limited-Mobility Seniors

Guest blogger - Ken Stanfield

If you have an elderly loved one and children of your own, sometimes the age gap between the two generations can be difficult to bridge. It can be especially tricky when your aging loved one has limited mobility and your child seems to go full speed all day long. What do you do to foster closer relationships between children and their aging relatives? Not everything will work for every situation, but here are a few ideas for you to draw inspiration from.
Memory Activities
Some of the most rewarding activities for seniors and children to do together are memory related. Even if seniors have difficulty with short term memory, many retain a good deal of their long-term memory and thus remember stories, dates, and people from their younger years that may be of interest to their grandchildren. Memory activities are mutually beneficial; the seniors have the opportunity to share their history and feel important and useful, and the children not only get to see their grandparents in a different light, but also gain more of a sense of who they are and what their heritage is. Some examples of memory activities include

·         Telling stories: Provide a list of questions about your elderly loved one’s life for your child to ask their grandparent and keep a recorder on hand to preserve their answers. They can also look at photo albums together and talk about who is in the pictures and the circumstances in which they were taken.

·          Making a memory book: Have grandparent and grandchild sort photos and place them in an album, along with the stories that go with them. This can help work fine motor skills for your elderly loved one and produces a priceless piece of family history.
Playing Games
Games are easy and fun activities for homebound seniors to enjoy with their young relatives. These include things like board games, card games, bingo, etc. If your child has never (or rarely) played checkers or chess, playing with Grandpa can be a good learning experience and a treasured time spent together. If your child knows a game his grandparent does not, he might be able to teach Grandpa a thing or two as well. For example, WiiFit games like bowling or tennis can be a fun alternative to shake things up a little bit; these games can be played with simple arm motions and are therefore feasible even for those with limited mobility.

Teaching a Skill or a Hobby
Along those lines, having the grandparent teach her grandchild a skill or hobby can be another great bonding experience. Perhaps the two could crochet or knit together, or your mother can supervise your child in the kitchen while she cooks. Passing on these skills will ensure that your parent’s special talents will be preserved in some way.

Reading together is one of the classic activities to do with elderly relatives, who may have vision problems that keep them from reading very often on their own. You might see if you can round up books that your elderly relative enjoyed when he or she was young so your child can enjoy it as well.

Watching a Movie
Many kids have not seen some of the classic films or TV shows that were popular when your parents were young; these may include Casablanca, Red Skelton, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Abbot and Costello, I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and others. It’s worth introducing your children to some of the classics that multiple generations can enjoy together.

Arts and Crafts
Even if your child or their grandparent isn’t particularly “crafty,” art and craft projects can be a fun way to spend time together. If the final product doesn’t turn out very well, you can always just laugh about how terrible it looks afterward. Ideas for arts and crafts include

·         Drawing or painting

·         Sculpting with clay

·         Folding origami

·         Tying fleece blankets

·         Weaving hats on a circular loom for charity

·         Seasonal crafts

Limited mobility doesn’t mean limited relationships or limited fun. With a little creativity and effort, your child and their grandparents can have a good time and develop a treasured relationship in the process.
Ken Stanfield is a writer and blogger who spends his time researching and writing about health care, geriatric healthcare needs (including medical walkers), and humanitarianism.


Retirement Savings Goals by Age

For those of you wondering if you’re saving enough money for retirement, here are some new savings guidelines to ponder.

Fidelity Investments has recommended that most workers should strive to save at least eight times their final salary before they retire to adequately prepare for retirement. (Saving that amount puts you on track to replace 85 percent of your salary, Fidelity says.)

Now, the investment firm is suggesting earlier milestones to help you get to that eight times goal by the time you’re 67.

Namely, Fidelity suggests workers should aim to save about one times their salary at age 35, three times at age 45 and five times at age 55.

So if you’re 45 and you’re making $50,000 a year, you should have put away $150,000.
“We believe these savings targets offer a rule of thumb to help employees get engaged in retirement planning by making it simpler and more achievable, but we recognize many individuals may need more than eight times their ending salary in retirement based on their lifestyle,” James M. MacDonald, president of workplace investing at Fidelity, said in a news release.

The company’s savings guideline is based on an employee in a workplace retirement plan, like a 401(k), beginning at age 25, working and saving continuously until age 67 and living until age 92. The goal would include savings in all retirement accounts, like 401(k)’s and I.R.A.’s, as well as other savings.

The calculation includes several assumptions, like a lifetime average annual portfolio growth rate of 5.5 percent and income growth of 1.5 percent a year over inflation with no breaks in employment.
So, all of you out there who are 35, 45 and 55(ish), are you anywhere near those targets? How did you do it?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Will you outlive your money?

Retirement used to last less than 20 years on average for Americans, but new projections are forecasting a much lengthier time period—up to 30 years for some Americans.

With the expanded time frame, the aging population will need to adjust their long-term financial plans accordingly so it can continue to fund housing and health care costs.The increase is attributed to longer life expectancy along with some seniors’ decision to enter retirement in their early 60s.

“Now we have more of a 30-year retirement period we are looking at,” said Shawn Britt of Nationwide. “People are living longer and there was a time that we projected a 20-year retirement period where people would retire at 65, the husband would die by 85. Most Americans are now retiring at 62.”

The 30-year retirement period shows a sizable increase from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 average retirement period of 18.7 years.

Because of the rise in number of years spent in retirement could also mean an increase in the amount of costs seniors acquire, it is important for those in the industry to plan for this new, longer retirement.

“As people age into their 80s, it increases the amount of money they need to survive,” said Britt. “This isn’t something people are aware of. The aging of America really has an impact on how we have to plan.”

Today, when couples reach age 65, there is a 50% chance one spouse will live to age 92 and a 25% chance one spouse will live to age 97, Britt says, citing research from Senior Capital Services.

While life expectancy for both men and women has increased, women have a longer life expectancy than men, and should be realize they will most likely face greater costs than their husband, according to Britt.

It’s important that people understand what they’re really facing. They need to understand that women are going to live longer than men, and their health care costs will be more. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can you avoid developing osteoarthritis?

Nearly 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. And while some of the risk factors for this condition can't be changed — for example, your age, sex, and genetic makeup — you can control others.

Osteoarthritis Risk Factors:
  • Age - is the number one risk factor for getting osteoarthritis. Research shows that, in younger people, cartilage in joints is stimulated to grow thicker and stronger with use, but with age, that ability is lost. The tendons and muscles that support your joints also weaken with age, which increases wear and tear on the joints over time. Osteoarthritis is rarely diagnosed in people under the age of 40, and is commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 60.
  • Sex - if you are female, your chances of getting osteoarthritis are higher. Women are at higher risk for osteoarthritis in all joints, and this increased risk begins at around the age of 60. Researchers suspect this is partly due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause, though this risk factor is not yet completely understood.
  • Genes - you are born with are believed to play a significant role in hip and hand osteoarthritis, where heredity is involved in about 50 percent of osteoarthritis cases. Osteoarthritis of the knee is less often inherited, probably less than 30 percent of the time. People who are born with certain types of knee abnormalities, have a very high risk of getting osteoarthritis.
  • Researchers are studying biomarkers, substances in the blood of people with osteoarthritis that can be found on a blood test and serve as an early warning sign that the person may develop osteoarthritis. This way, you can work with your doctor to start treating your osteoarthritis at an earlier stage.
  • Weight - how much you weigh is the biggest controllable risk factor for osteoarthritis. "Being overweight makes joint pain of all sorts much harder to cope with and may aggravate wear in knee joints," warns Edwards. Carrying too much weight is generally worse for people with knee arthritis than with hip arthritis, and worse for women than for men. Being just 10 pounds overweight will increase the stress on your knees with every step you take. Women who are overweight have four times the risk of osteoarthritis as women who are of normal weight.
  • Damage - to the ligaments that support your joints causes the joints to be less protected from stress. A broken bone can change the structure of a joint and lead to abnormal stress. Someone who has already had a joint injury should avoid strain through strenuous exercise, which can further aggravate the problem. Certain diseases can cause joint damage that can increase the risk for osteoarthritis. These include joint infections, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and Paget's disease.
Certain occupations or activities in which the joint is stressed repeatedly over a long time can also be risk factors for osteoarthritis. Farmers, for instance, have a high risk of hip osteoarthritis, while miners have a high risk of knee and spine osteoarthritis. A recent study also found that military personnel are at higher risk of osteoarthritis, especially those serving in the Army — who must meet high physical demands on a regular basis.

The bottom line: As with most diseases, prevention and early treatment offer the best chance of success against osteoarthritis. Get your weight down to a normal range through diet and exercises that are right for you.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Trouble on the horizon for LTC...

Low interest rates and policyholders' unwillingness to drop coverage are two of the key reasons the long-term care insurance market is in trouble, an expert recently asserted. Long-term care insurance carriers used to operate under the assumption that a reliable number of policyholders would drop their coverage before they reaped their claim, Howard Gleckman, a journalist and Urban Institute fellow, writes in Forbes magazine. But as interest rates plunged in the economic downturn, more policyholders have not cashed in. Additionally, not enough consumers are buying the policies, he says.

In this environment, LTC insurance carriers have had to either exit the market or increase premiums substantially. Genworth increased premiums this year and decreased product offerings, while Prudential has decided to offer only group long-term care policies.

“Overall, though, the decline of the private LTC market is a huge problem, especially since it is coming just as Washington is seeking ways to reduce Medicaid, the most important payer of long-term care costs,” Gleckman wrote.

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