Senior woman meeting with agent

 

Deciding whether it’s time for aging parents to stop living alone can be difficult. You don’t want to wait too long until after a major incident has occurred and done irreversible harm, but sometimes the early signs of a growing problem can be subtle. To make sure your parents get the care they need when they need it, keep an eye out for the following signs that your aging parents should  no longer live alone.

1. Difficult recoveries

If your aging parent’s last brush with illness or injury led to a longer-than-usual recovery, this can be a strong indication that their health is starting to fail. As we age, we lose our ability to bounce back from poor health. This is important to take into account, as even a mild injury or ailment can become a long-term drain on an elderly person’s well being. To avoid these types of lengthy recoveries and their detrimental impacts, it might be a good idea to start looking at alternatives to living alone.

2. Signs of dementia

Any sign of dementia should be taken extremely seriously. Forgetfulness, losing track of events or items or general disorientation can all spell danger for your aging parent without the proper supervision and help. It only takes a moment for a forgotten stove burner to start a major fire, for example.

If you even slightly suspect that your parent might be suffering from the early stages of dementia, you owe it to them to help them seek diagnosis, treatment and the proper senior care, whether assisted living, in-home care, or another daily care arrangement.

3. Recent accidents

There are a lot of little accidents that might not mean much on their own but can combine to paint a worrisome picture for elders living alone. For example, if you notice new dings and dents on your parent’s car, it’s probably time to join them on a ride to see how their driving looks.

If they’ve become prone to falls or stumbles, they may need help getting around the house or may need to move to an easier-to-navigate home. If you see signs that accidents are becoming a regular occurrence in your parent’s life, it might be time to talk about outside assistance.

4. Weight fluctuations

If your parent is experiencing serious changes in their weight, you should keep a close eye on how they’re doing. This includes both weight loss or gain, as either one can herald a host of health problems, psychiatric issues, or neurological problems, especially if there’s no easy explanation for the change. Difficulties preparing the same meals they used to make routinely or getting as much exercise as they previously did should be taken as warning signs.

5. Poor hygiene and personal care

If a parent who previously paid close attention to their appearance begins to slack on fixing their hair, makeup or other normal grooming before leaving the house, it may be a sign of deteriorating physical or mental health. You should also be alert to changes in hygiene; if your parent is no longer brushing their teeth, bathing regularly, or washing their clothes, it’s a huge red flag. These problems will only grow worse with time, and can complicate, encourage, or create health issues if left unaddressed.

6. Social withdrawal

If your parent has suddenly begun making excuses to avoid social outings, stopped attending church, hasn’t seen friends in a while, or has otherwise shown signs of social withdrawal, you should pay attention. Not only will getting out less worsen or exacerbate their general well being, it’s a potential sign of cognitive decline or depression.

Normally people do not, as a rule, stop socializing without reason—and in most cases, the underlying reason is something you should be worried about. The health benefits and social engagement of assisted living or a home care companion can be exactly what a withdrawn parent needs to return to their normal social activities and start thriving again.

7. Financial problems

When you visit your parent, do you spot unpaid bill warning notices in the mail? Do you have to help your parents make ends meet where they previously had no problems? These can be signs of deteriorating health and may indicate that the time for living alone has ended, as forgetfulness, apathy, and other problems begin to take a serious toll on their bank account. In some cases, forgotten expenses, scams, and other issues can add up to larger financial problems.

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You should think long and hard about the best interests of your aging parents and the rest of your family when considering senior care options. It’s better to have these conversations with your parent early on. That way, you can honestly discuss the potential pitfalls associated with living alone and the perils of ignoring them before any cognitive problems develop.

 

Senior Man Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

One day you get a call informing you that you’ve won a cash prize, or an invitation to buy into an investment that outperforms the market, or an email telling you that your medical insurer needs your insurance ID. Scenarios like these should raise red flags. While some of the time they may be legitimate, oftentimes these are scams.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, so too do unscrupulous scammers.

“The stereotype is that older adults have more money,” says Brandy Bauer, communications manager for economic security at the National Council on Aging. “That, coupled with the perception that seniors are in cognitive decline, means that older people are a target for economic exploitation.”

Falling victim to a scam can have real consequences. Seniors are often living on a fixed income and don’t have the time to recover and rebuild their savings should fraud lead to a large financial loss, says Bauer.

That said, for many of these scams to work, scammers want you to hand over your personal information. Knowing the red flags to look out for can help you avoid giving out the information they desperately need, protecting you and your assets from falling into the wrong hands.

“The key to avoiding many scams is to stay educated and to continuously monitor your accounts for suspicious activity,” says Liz Loewy, former chief of the elder abuse unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office who is now senior vice president for industry relations at EverSafe a service that helps protect seniors from fraud and identity theft.

When in doubt about whether an offer or request is legitimate, it’s best to have a trusted family member or friend take a look, Loewy says.

“It never hurts to have a trusted advocate serve as a second set of eyes,” she says.

What follows are some of the most common scams targeting seniors today.

1. Phone Scams
Scams that take place over the phone are one of the most common types to affect seniors. Some current schemes include people posing as IRS agents to collect personal information (the IRS does not contact you over the phone) and scammers pretending to be technicians from computer companies claiming to have detected a problem with your computer. With little way of verifying a caller’s identify, avoid giving out any personal information over the phone.

Once on the phone, it can be hard for many seniors to say no to caller requests. To avoid being put in an uncomfortable position in the first place, consider screening calls on cell phones and landlines with caller ID. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t pick up.

2. Medicare and Health Insurance Scams
Beware of people posing as medical professionals who request your medical information over the phone or online. Scammers can use your health insurance ID number and other personal information to fraudulently bill Medicare or insurance companies. In the meantime, you could get saddled with copays and percentage-based fees for care you never received.

Also be wary of companies selling durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, and claims that they’re covered by Medicaid. Since Medicaid has strict rules about which agencies you can use to acquire medical equipment, oftentimes this type of equipment is not actually covered.

Don’t provide your medical information to anyone unless you are 100 percent sure you know who you’re talking to. Review your insurance statements regularly to spot any suspicious activity.

3. Internet and Email Scams
Watch out for pop-ups on your computer, phone or tablet that ask you to download things like virus protection software. Ironically, you may actually be downloading a virus that will mine your computer for personal data.

Similarly, you may receive official-looking emails telling you to download something or click on an unknown link. “Phishing” scammers often use this tactic, and once you click, the scammer is given a porthole into the information stored on your computer. What’s worse, sometimes simply opening these emails is enough to give scammers access to your data.

Before opening any emails, make sure they’re from a legitimate source that you recognize. In general, before entering any personal information online, look for a padlock symbol in your browser bar (near the URL) or a web address that includes HTTPS at the beginning of the URL. Any information you type into a website that includes these markers is encrypted and protected by the website.

4. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
Scammers may inform you that you’re the winner of a sweepstakes or lottery prize, and that all you have do to claim your prize is pay a processing fee or taxes upfront. They may go so far as to send a fake check for you to cash, knowing that it will take a few days for your bank to reject it. In the meantime, the fraudster can pocket your money and disappear.

5. Investment Schemes
Seniors managing their finances after retirement may encounter investments that sound too good to be true. That’s because a lot of the time, they are. Investments that purport to be a limited-time offer or claim returns that are higher than the market—think the Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme—should raise red flags for any investor. Make sure you fully understand any kind of investment you’re considering participating in.

6. Asset Recovery Scams
An insidious and increasingly common scheme, asset recovery scams target older adults who have already been the victim of a scam. For example, a perpetrator might contact a senior taken in by a timeshare scam, promising to help the senior recover some of their lost money. The scammers then collect personal information from the senior that gives them access to the senior’s finances — victimizing them twice.

7. Social Media Scams
Increasingly, seniors are on social media, and that means a lot of their personal information is readily available to the public. If you’re on social media, scammers may find photographs of friends and family members, gathering names and other information. Then they contact you, claiming that one of the people you know is in some kind of financial trouble and needs you to send them money. Protect your information on social media by changing privacy settings so that only family and friends can view your profile.

8. Charity Scams
During the end of the year, the holiday season, or after a well-publicized disaster, some scammers try to take advantage of seniors’ charitable instincts by soliciting money for bogus organizations. Before giving, make sure to vet all charities to make sure they are legitimate and that your money will actually go to help those in need.

It's time to dispel the myths about Alzheimer's disease.

It’s estimated that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Learning that a loved one has Alzheimer’s can bring up countless questions. With a bombardment of information easily accessible online, it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not. The following are some common myths surrounding the disease.

Myth 1: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are One in the Same

Dementia is an umbrella term for progressive and disabling cognitive decline. Everybody with Alzheimer’s disease has dementia, but there are many different kinds of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for about 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Sometimes people are upset when they hear Alzheimer’s disease, and for some reason less upset when they’re told it’s dementia. Everybody with Alzheimer’s has dementia, and in fact, most older adults with dementia have Alzheimer’s,” said neurologist Riley McCarten, MD, medical director of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

Gary Kennedy, MD, geriatric psychiatrist at the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York said to think of it this way: “Alzheimer’s is to dementia as leukemia is to cancer.”

Myth 2: Everyone Gets Alzheimer’s Eventually

While Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related illness, it’s not inevitable for everyone. “If you live well into your 80s or 90s, about half of the population has some signs of dementia, but there’s also half that don’t. Dementia is always caused by disease. It’s not healthy aging,” said McCarten.

Myth 3: Alzheimer’s Comes on Strong

Alzheimer’s often is associated with the image of an incompetent or impaired person. However, for most people with Alzheimer’s, this isn’t the case until they’ve had the disease for years. “Like lots of chronic diseases, whether it’s emphysema or cancer or heart disease, people can look good for a long time with Alzheimer’s. Dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease, can last for a long time, on average 10 years, and sometimes twice that long, so for the first 90 percent of it, people may be up and around, quite active and engaged,” said McCarten.

Not recognizing people also happens much later in the disease. “I tell families that it’s not important if the patient calls wife ‘Mother’ or husband ‘Father’ or daughter ‘Son’. What’s important is that they’re expressing love and affection and recognize that this is a person they love,” said Kennedy.

Myth 4: I’ll Have Alzheimer’s Because My Dad Had it

While having a family history of Alzheimer’s increases your risk, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the disease. Scientists have found certain genes related to the onset of the illness. When genes are to blame, it is referred to as “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” because family members across several generations are affected. In these cases, symptoms tend to develop at a young age, usually before 60. This form of Alzheimer’s is rare, accounting for less than 5 percent of cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

 “While there’s a lot of work that’s been done on identifying these genes, nothing has lead to the discovery of a medication that could modify the genetic risk,” said Kennedy.

Myth 5: Medication Can Cure Alzheimer’s

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several prescription medications to treat Alzheimer’s, the drugs are used to treat symptoms rather than cure the disease.

 “While we have medications that will help, we really don’t understand what’s causing Alzheimer’s yet,” said Kennedy. “For instance, for diabetes, we know where the problem starts so we can counter it with medications like insulin. For HIV/AIDS, we found the infectious agent and now we have medication that keeps it at bay. However, that’s not the case with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s much more complicated.”

Both Kennedy and McCarten agree that the best approach to treatment is making lifestyle changes that give the patient a sense of independence for as long as possible.

“The concept of treatment, unfortunately, is usually viewed as a pill or surgical intervention, but medications have a modest affect,” said McCarten. “A lot of intervention isn’t related to medication. Somebody who is living with dementia can have a much better life if the family intervenes and makes sure they’re not isolated, are eating well and getting exercise.”

Myth 6: It’s Always Hard to Care For Someone with Alzheimer’s

Of course Alzheimer’s has detrimental effects, but Kennedy said there are some people with Alzheimer’s who are easier to care for than expected. “Rather than depressed and aggressive, there are Alzheimer’s patients who are in elevated spirits and in a certain sense ‘easy’ to take care of,” he said. “Of course they don’t make it into the research studies because they’re not a ‘problem’ and they’re not seen by the psychologist or specialty neurologist because the family is managing well.”

Still, Kennedy points out that there is a need for better resources for families who struggle with difficult behaviors exhibited by their loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Myth 7: Alzheimer’s is on the Rise

According to Kennedy, the percentage of older adults who now develop dementia has declined, but because the older adult population is increasing worldwide, the prevalence of dementia will continue to swell.

“There’s an increasing awareness that vascular risk factors such as diabetes and heart disease make a contribution to Alzheimer’s. In other words, people who have the pathology of Alzheimer’s also have the pathology of vascular disease in their brains,” Kennedy said. “The reason that’s so important is that we’ve had pretty good luck for intervention for cardiovascular disease, whether it’s the cholesterol lowering agents, anti-hypertensives, or anti-diabetic agents.”

“They’re all having an impact on the frequency of stroke, brain hemorrhage and heart attack, which is most likely responsible for the reduced incidence of dementia in late life,” he said.

Kennedy advises that ensuring a loved one with Alzheimer’s is properly treated for other conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes may help keep dementia at bay.

Hacks and Swaps for Fancy and Green SeniorsYou want to be greener. But you don’t want to give up your creature comforts. Rest easy—with some small hacks and swaps, you can lead a more sustainable life.

Now sing with me. I’m so fancy, you already know. I’m a senior just trying to green my home. I’m so fancy and I can reach this goal, if I up my green game. Let’s go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o.

1. Inspect Your Home

Have a professional assess your insulation level. Many people unknowingly pay good money to heat the outdoors or cool their garage. Owners of older homes should schedule an insulation and energy audit. The original builder should be able to provide basic information for new homes.

2. Be a Greener Cleaner

Run only full loads of dishes or laundry (not together). Now, let them air dry. Remember to use cold water. Double down on green and go old school with sustainable cleaning products. Feel free to buy your supplies from leading stores or create your own at home. Baking soda, lemon juice, oils, borax and the Internet are your best friends.

While you’re at it: homemade soap bars make amazing gifts that your friends will love.

3. Let Your Lights Shine, Not Warm

Replace old bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. They are bright and beautiful without wasting energy on releasing heat. This hack is so simple it’s “like you’re giving lessons in physics.”

4. Impress Your Friends with Smart Technology

Convert your appliances to smart appliances. The fancy side of you will love that you can turn your lights on and off from a remote application on your phone. The green side of you knows that your smart house can do the green work for you. From the lighting to the temperature, everything adjusts just how you like it. It will feel “so good getting what you want.”

5. Use Reusables

Paper or plastic? Opt out of both by bringing your own cloth bags to the store. For storage and transport, use reusable crates instead of cardboard boxes.

6. Change Your Driving

Keep your car in tip-top condition. Drive slower and inflate your tires. Reduce the junk in your trunk for better gas mileage “from L.A. to Tokyo.”

7. Switch Into the Fast Lane

Splurge on a new hybrid or electric car for some serious swagger. From the Prius and the i3 to the Leaf, Tesla and the Chevy Spark, you will find a car that fits your lifestyle. Your friends will ask “Who that, who that?” as you drive by.

8. Purge Your Paper

Unsubscribe from junk mail. Switch to electronic versions of your favorite magazines and newspapers. Scan your old files and receipts and recycle the originals. Try applications like Evernote and OneReceipt. You can make your electronic copies more organized than the paper versions ever were.

9. Do a Digital Diet

When leaving your home, unplug your appliances and electronics. This reduces phantom loads—energy use from idle electronics. Use power strips to turn everything off with a single button. Look for smart strips that turn off the power flow when the appliances are off. You don’t “ever have to turn down nothing.” Take the next step and go screen-free for a day. Then try it for a week.

Luxury and comfort, meet sustainability. You’ll get “the whole world asking how I does that.”

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

escape-to-the-beachAs fun as snowy winter weather can be, sometimes you just need to escape for some vitamin D therapy. Do you envision relaxing on a white sandy beach? Or is the dry heat of Arizona calling your name? From the bustling city of Oahu to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, these are the top desert, beach and city destinations for your 2016 travel adventures.

Desert 

Nothing beats the heat of the desert. And nothing compares to its wide-open spaces, geological beauty and quiet solitude.

Death Valley, California

If vitamin D therapy is definitely what you need, a visit to warm and sunny Death Valley is just what the doctor ordered. The Valley is known for its record-breaking heat.

Plan your visit in the spring, and you will get to see the valley of death turn into a valley of life. From February to July there is a spectacular explosion of wildflower blossoms covering the desert floor.

Any time of year, you can visit Death Valley’s sand dunes, relax in warm hot springs and marvel in its stark natural beauty. With names like the Devil’s Golf Course and Mosaic Canyon, how can you resist?

Grand Canyon, Arizona 

The Grand Canyon is one of the United States’ incredible natural wonders, stretching a vast 277 miles from end to end. A mile straight down you will find the Colorado River winding its way along the canyon floor.

You can explore the canyon in every way imaginable. Hiking, backpacking, biking, off-road driving, helicopter flights and mule rides are only some of your options. A must-see stop is the Grand Canyon skywalk—a glass walkway that extends 70 feet out from the canyon’s rim.

Pictures don’t do this breathtaking sight justice; you truly have to experience it in person.

Beach

Is there anything more relaxing than lying out in the sun, burying your toes in the sand and watching the waves? These exotic locales may be just the winter pick-me-up you need.

Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean

The Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean are home to picture-perfect white sand beaches. With consistently warm temperatures, even at night, you’ll never be cold.

Plunge into the warm blue water and snorkel over exquisite reefs. Or take to the sky in a breathtaking hot air balloon tour. When you’re ready for a break, you can enjoy beachfront dining with views that can’t be beat.

Once you enjoy a walk down the powdery white shores of the Caribbean, you won’t want to go home!

Phuket, Thailand

With its turquoise lagoons and sherbet sunsets, Phuket is an island conjured out of a dream. Surrounded by the clear waters of the Andaman Sea, it is home to silky-soft beaches and picturesque views.

Whether you are looking for world-class diving, an exciting rainforest adventure or a round of golf at international-standard courses, Phuket has no lack of activities.

Once you have had enough sun, Buddhist temples, Chinese shrines, relaxing spas and a lively nightlife entertainment scene await you. 

City

Experience the perfect mix of city life and beach living with these cities full of rich cultural destinations and lively party scenes.

Oahu, Hawaii

Sandy white beaches and clear blue water seem to epitomize Hawaii. While Oahu has lovely beaches and scenery for you to enjoy, it is the heart of its big city that distinguishes it from the other Hawaiian Islands.

If you love art, food, shopping or surfing, Oahu is the place for you. The island is full of cultural and historical sites, including Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Center. Many of these destinations are accessible and can be easily reached by public transportation.

Enjoy a day in the city, then kick back and watch a sunset on one of the island’s pristine beaches. With Oahu you will get the best of both worlds.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Once a small fishing village, the bustling city of Playa del Carmen is now one of Mexico’s top travel destinations. Home to many all-inclusive resorts, this trendy city has a European flair with restaurants and shopping to fit every taste.

In Playa del Carmen you can meet playful spider monkeys, explore ancient ruins and visit Mexico’s best golf courses. Take a trip to the popular Xcaret eco-Park and swim with dolphins, explore a bat cave and see jaguars up close.

Playa del Carmen’s vibrant culture is the perfect getaway for the city lover. Beachside lounges and exquisite dining awaits you in this Euro-chic Mexican city.

Sunny Retreats

Escape the cold grip of winter and head for someplace warm and sunny. Kick back and relax, go on an adventure or party the night away—the choice is yours. Go get that vitamin D and make 2016 the year you embark on your next great adventure.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

merrill-gardens-at-the-university-courtyardIn Bill Pettit’s opinion, the courtyard at Merrill Gardens at The University is one of the best in Seattle. As president of R.D. Merrill Company (parent company of Merrill Gardens), he has seen some of the finest courtyards that are found in senior living communities. Superficially, there isn’t anything noticeably different that distinguishes this courtyard from others:  it has seating areas, a water feature, and planters. Not even the Ionic columns, which symbolize its relationship with the University of Washington, would make this courtyard more special than the others.

The Importance of Connectivity

It’s not the tangible design elements that make this courtyard the best, in Pettit’s mind. It’s the intangible element of connectivity: This courtyard is a gathering place not only for seniors who call Merrill Gardens at The University home, but also the residents of The Corydon, an adjacent apartment complex which houses students, young professionals, and even baby boomers. Petitt says that during the day, the populations mix in the courtyard, allowing relationships to grow between residents of all ages. It’s this connectivity which he sees as an overlooked yet vital component that contributes to a seniors’ well-being. This desire for social connection “will merrill-gardens-at-the-university-courtyard-twoeven be more pronounced and meaningful as my generation, the Baby Boomer generation, transition into senior housing alternatives,” Petitt explains, and that “seniors as they age are looking for connections and to maintain connections more than anything else.”

In his opinion, this connectivity wasn’t appreciated or understood when senior living communities were built decades ago. “When Merrill Gardens started building communities 24 years ago, and I think the industry as a whole, a lot of the 1990s’ designs focused on finding an affordable piece of land and rather than looking at trying to create a community that kept seniors connected, typically that affordable land would be off on its own,” he said. “Out of this experience we learned two things, the land might have been cheaper, but you were spending more in marketing trying to get people to the site, and in addition to keeping them connected, we were now transporting them longer distances. The other aspect is what they were turning into was one big island of old age.”

Building a senior living community that wasn’t an island of old age was the vision for Merrill Gardens at The University, which is located near the University Village shopping center and less than half a mile away from the University of Washington Seattle campus. “From the start we had envisioned a gathering place, someplace where [we could] combine seniors with other generations. In some respects we weren’t sure how it was going to work out,” Pettit admitted.

Since the opening of the community in 2009, this new approach has paid off with a waiting list at the community, and families surprised that the surroundings don’t feel like a senior living community when they tour. “All of what we build as a company, and we’re not alone, these are truly residences. All of our units have kitchens,” Pettit says. “Our residents know they have the flexibility if they choose to prepare their own meals but they also have access to our dining room.”

The Design of Connectivity

The incorporation of connectivity is visible in prominent and subtle ways of its design. Walking around the block, and you will find a Yoga studio, restaurants, and shops and the entrance to The Corydon. Once inside Merrill Gardens at The University, “it’s not by accident that all of our common areas are set up with a visual to the courtyard,” he adds.

Pairing a merrill-gardens-at-the-university-dining-roomresidential apartment building alongside the senior living community also resulted in the unforeseen benefit of helping seniors transition “at their own pace” into Merrill Gardens at The University. Seniors who live in the neighboring apartments can participate in the dining program and activities, and this approach has “worked very effectively,” Pettit says.

With Merrill Gardens at The University having proven that this new approach to connectivity works, Pettit says they are now using this approach at new communities in other Washington State cities including Burien, Kirkland and Auburn, but also future sites in California. We have been actively building for the last 10 years, he says, and we are looking for sites “where the seniors are connected to downtown, where they are connected to be able to walk and step outside the door of the community and be immersed in an intergenerational population, rather than feeling like they have to [be] transport[ed] to it. They are part of it.”

This new approach does have its disadvantages from a financing and construction standpoint; multiple parcels are required to build these larger communities and being located in an urban environment means higher construction costs due to less laydown area for materials. Unfortunately, it also means higher monthly fees to live at the community, but at least in Washington State, there are income-restricted apartments available thanks to tax credits Merrill Garden receives from the state.

With an increasing population of seniors who will eventually move into senior housing, an emphasis on connecting seniors to outside the community and other generations will likely only increase.

“My belief, after all these years in the industry, is the industry needs many solutions,” Pettit shares. “This is a solution which I think appeals more broadly certainly to my generation than to previous generations, and yet I think there are still other alternatives that will continue to evolve and offshoots. But I think the central theme of maintaining connections is very real and very telling about the evolution of senior housing.”

Senior man reading book

For caregivers, the John Lennon lyric “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans,” could easily be rephrased to read “Caregiving is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” There often is no advance notice that you will suddenly assume the role of caregiver, whether for a mother, uncle, spouse, or sibling. And for many new caregivers this means rearranging one’s life to make room for these new responsibilities. Yet this rearranging shouldn’t mean abandoning your own ambitions.

This is why SeniorHomes is proud to announce our brand-new Caregiver Scholarship program to help caregiver-students continue their schooling. We are offering two $1,000 scholarships for caregivers who are actively enrolled in a U.S. college or university. To apply, student caregivers may submit their story through a 1,200-word essay or a 5-minute video that tells us of your journey being a caregiver and student. The deadlines for entry submissions is June 30, 2016 and the winners will be announced August 1, 2016.

To learn more about the application requirements, visit our Caregiver Scholarship page. We look forward to hearing your stories.

 

 

senior-fitness-activitiesThe weather outside is frightful, and all you want to do is snuggle on the couch with your warm blankets and a mug of hot chocolate. But after all of those Christmas cookies you ate this holiday season, you know it’s time to get up and moving.

The good news is that being healthy doesn’t have to mean going outside and turning into an ice cube. It’s time to get motivated with some surprising ways to stay active while staying out of the cold.

Playing Games

Who says staying active can’t be fun? The best way to exercise is to forget you’re exercising. Grab some friends and play games that keep you moving.

  • Indoor Mini-GolfChallenge your coordination and visualization skills with miniature golf. The game may be small, but it is big fun. Even regular golfers will be challenged by mini-golf’s clever obstacles.
  • BowlingWhen’s the last time you put on a pair of bowling shoes? Head over to your local lanes and get laced up. Choose your ball, knock over some pins, and cheer your friends as they try to beat your high score.

Taking it Easy

Need to keep your workouts low impact? It’s all about getting creative with where you exercise.

  • Aqua DanceSwimming is the best low-impact activity. Find a heated indoor pool that offers aqua dance or water aerobics classes. Water aerobics is a surprisingly great workout. You will dance and swim your way to better health.
  • Window shoppingThe mall is the perfect place to take a walk on a winter day. Stay warm while enjoying the sights. People watch, look in the windows and maybe try on a few things. Even if you don’t buy a thing, you will have spent the day burning calories without even realizing it.

Staying Home

You don’t have to go very far to start getting in shape—you don’t even have to leave your living room.

  • Video gamesVideo games don’t have to mean sitting on the couch. Wii and the Xbox Kinect were made to get you moving. Play a wide variety of games, from tennis to shuffleboard to bowling. Or grab Dance Dance Revolution and dance to your heart’s content—all without leaving your living room.
  • CleaningCleaning is very few people’s idea of a good time. Why not make a game out of it? Put on your favorite upbeat song and see how much you can get done before the song ends. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and you’ll find yourself dancing and singing your way to a cleaner house and better health.

Being Adventurous

Don’t let staying inside be an excuse to be lazy. Stretch your limits, push your boundaries, and get your blood pumping while staying indoors.

  • Rock climbingThere’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get from scaling a wall and looking back down at the ground. Revel in your body’s power with an amazing arm and back workout. Rock climbing gyms have walls of different levels so that you can increase the challenge whenever you’re ready.
  • Ballroom danceHave you ever watched Dancing with the Stars and wished you could dance like them? Head over to your local ballroom studio and sign up for classes—no partner required. Before you know it, you will be twirling around the ballroom to your favorite songs and dancing the night away.

Getting Fit

Making your body strong doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights.

  • Tai ChiTai chi is a martial art that is often called “meditation in motion”. You will do slow, flowing movements that stretch out your muscles and promote better balance and body awareness. Focusing on the movement will clear your mind and help you to forget your worries. 
  • PilatesPilates is a favorite of celebrities and dancers—and for good reason! It focuses on strengthening your core and maintaining lean muscles. It can be done with equipment and without, and can be adjusted to different experience levels. It will increase your strength and flexibility without feeling like a traditional gym workout.

Having Fun

Exercise doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Get creative. Find something that you enjoy–something that just so happens to keep you active. You’ll be having so much fun that you’ll surprise yourself with how strong you’ve gotten and how much better you feel.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

joans-journey-last-postWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. Four years ago, on Dec. 22, 2011, Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing launched as a regular feature in SeniorHomes.com‘s blog. Many roads were traveled, chronicled in my 38 Joan’s Journey’s posts. The journey included a decision to relocate, sell a condo, downsize, pack, move across country, and settle comfortably into life in a senior community.

Joan’s Journey has arrived at its destination—Holiday Villa East, an independent living residence in Santa Monica, California. With every arrival comes an ending. My Joan’s Journey chronicling concludes with this post. Thanks to SeniorHomes.com, its management and editors for the awesome opportunity to share my journey with its online readers. Most of all, thank you Journeyers for your readership, questions, comments, and suggestions.

The goal of Joan’s Journey was to share the realities of my lifestyle changing from living alone in a condominium in a city suburbs to sharing life in a +55 residential community. With the assistance of the helpful SeniorHomes.com family advisors, I identified the appropriate community to meet my personal and family criteria, as well as geographic location and budget requirements. The journey was not an easy one. Stumbling blocks and roadblocks appeared along the way. But as we near 2016, I am living happily in senior housing that is close to my children and grandchildren. The New Year beckons with many exciting journeys ahead.

As producers say in nearby Hollywood, “That’s a wrap” for Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing. For further conversations and sharing, visit my Joan London Facebook page, where Journeyers may message—and I will respond. From the staff of SeniorHomes.com and myself, thank you for being part of Joan’s Journey. We hope that by chronicling my path, we have helped families understand the road to successful senior housing. Happy New Year, and remember to enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.

decorating-a-smaller-homeWhen you’ve recently moved into a new place, the holidays can make you feel nostalgic for your old home. But even though your place is still fresh and unfamiliar, you can fill it with memories from Christmases past. Don’t have room for your standard 12-foot Christmas tree? Tap into your creative side and find new places for your traditional decorations.

  • Downsize your tree—You don’t need a tall Christmas tree to make the holidays complete. A small tree is easier to decorate and easier to store after the season is over. If you can’t fit all of your ornaments on it, you can rotate them for a different look every year. Put your tree up on a platform to give it a larger presence without taking up as much floor space.
  • Forgo a tree—Can’t get a tree this year? You can still have the symbol without taking up the space. Pin garlands or lights on the wall in the shape of a tree or cut a tree and ornaments out of construction paper. You don’t have to be without this quintessential Christmas symbol.
  • Display ornaments creatively—Do you have more ornaments than will fit on your tree? Hang them on your walls, display them on shelves, and use them to decorate wreaths. Group them together in odd numbers and play with their heights.
  • Pass along old favorites—If your grown-up children have places of their own, gift them their favorite childhood ornament. They can add it to their own tree so they always have a piece of home with them.
  • Use your windows—Limited wall space? Your windows are perfect places to hang wreaths, ornaments, and garlands. Drape garlands around the edge and hang a wreath covered with ornaments in the center.
  • Don’t forget your front door—You may not have a front yard, but you certainly have a front door! Don’t be afraid to go crazy and cover your door in holiday cheer. If your door has windows, hang a snowflake or ornament in each so they can be seen inside and out.

When’s the last time you’ve bought a new Christmas decoration? Take this opportunity to go shopping for a few new statement pieces to perfectly complement your new space. See what’s new and trendy in the shops. Splurge on something you really love to add to your collection.

Making Your New Place Feel Like Home

Moving to a different neighborhood can mean some big changes. You can no longer walk to your town’s annual Christmas parade and there’s no room for your grandchildren to stay over. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same holiday spirit. The key to maintaining your traditions is being flexible.

  • Don’t expect perfection—Traditions are important, but they are supposed to be fun. Don’t stress about making everything exactly the way it used to be. If you are no longer enjoying the process, it’s time to adapt or let the tradition go.
  • Stay connected with your children—With everything being different, it can be difficult to gather the family together. Perhaps this year one of your children can host the annual get-together. Or you can gather at a different time of day so that everyone can make it. What’s important is keeping in touch.
  • Remember small rituals—They are as important as big traditions. Some may be as simple as the family gathering to watch an annual event on TV. Don’t let these traditions become forgotten just because you are in a new place. It’s often these small rituals that really make the holidays feel special.
  • Make a home-cooked meal—Nothing makes a new place feel homey quite like the smell of cookies and pies in the oven. Make your old favorites to bring the smells you miss into your new home.

Your new town may surprise you with holiday traditions of its own. Ask your neighbors for their favorite things to do, places to eat, and events to see during the holidays. You may just find a new favorite. 

Mixing the Old and the New

Your first holiday in your new place may be difficult, especially when you look back at what your move has cost you. But your new place is full of opportunity when you look forward. You don’t have to abandon your old ways. Mix the old and the new. Your traditions will make the holidays feel like the holidays and make your new place truly feel like home.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.