Our baby boomer kids are concerned about us and our cars. When is it no longer safe for us older adults to drive? Are we capable of making realistic decisions? Do we need their help in deciding when to give up the car? At my retirement community, I frequently see this stressful dilemma. Of the many decisions adult children need to make for, or with, their aging parents, the keys to the car may be one of the hardest.

Read what is happening at my place in my latest post Who Should Drive The Car?

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers. The time was 1983 when pop-culture princess Cyndi Lauper burst upon the music scene with her electrifying song, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Forty-two years later, this multi-talented international superstar is heralded for more than 30 years as a celebrity singer/songwriter of new wave, rock and roll, and popular music. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1952, Lauper is a dedicated humanitarian activist and awaits June 2015 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

One of my favorite radio stations, Oldies, recently played Lauper’s song,

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

I come home in the morning light.

My mother says when you gonna live your life right?

Oh mother dear, we’re not the fortunate ones.

And girls they want to have fun.

Oh girls, just want to have fun.

 – Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want to Have Fun/ LYRICS © SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC

As I listened to the song, I thought, “That’s what I want to do with senior living. I want to have fun. It’s my time to have fun.”

To see how Joan is having fun in senior living, read Joan’s Journey, Part 27.

The day after Thanksgiving, my family of six sat down to have an end-of-life discussion. This topic might not be one that most families would voluntarily discuss on a festive occasion, but my family is not the norm. All of us approach life rationally: We’re going to die, it’s just a matter of when—my parents could receive a call that I was in a fatal car accident or I could receive a call that my dad had a heart attack at work.

For me, this two-hour discussion provided a sense of relief that we documented the assigning of power of attorney  and management of assets in the event of my parents’ death or remarriage. My parents voiced their preferences as to how end-of-life decisions should be handled—from “If I’m brain dead, don’t keep me on life support” to having my siblings in agreement when making a healthcare decision if both parents are incapacitated. It also gave me the opportunity to voice my preferences for how end-of-life should be handled, as my parents would be the ones making the decisions on my behalf.

And though my dad jokes that we’re already writing him off when he could have 30 more years left of life, my reply is we don’t know that so that’s why we need a plan. So whether you are a mom who doesn’t feel like she’s 80 or a son who is enjoying his 30s, take time to have that end-of-life discussion. Our helpful Wills, Living Trusts, and Planning Ahead page provides an overview of the documents that you can create to not only document your decisions but help family members carry out your directives after your passing.

Too often, we hear stories of seniors falling, unable to get up on their own. A senior lays helpless on the floor, often for days, before help arrives.

As CEO of Alert1, I want to write new, better stories. Alert1 helps seniors take control and write their own narratives. Our medical alert systems help seniors call for help in an emergency. When seniors need help fast, they can push a button on their wrist to connect with an emergency responder. They will get the help they need—without relying on fate to supply a knight in shining armor.

I would like to share a story, inspired by a true testimonial by an Alert1 member, which emphasizes preparedness. These are the stories we should read, stories about seniors staying safe and standing strong.

____________________________________

Sharon giggled as she lowered herself into the steaming tub of water. Earlier that day, a strapping young man with sparkling blue eyes had helped her cross the street. She blushed at the memory.Bathtub Safety Hints

Sharon dropped a bath bomb into the warm water and sighed contentedly as the lavender fumes wafted up her nose. Feeling her muscles relax, she let herself be overcome by nostalgia. In her prime, there was no shortage of strapping young men interested in courting her. Like a proper Southern belle, she kept the gentlemen on their toes with her mystique and endearing charm.

The toll of the clock dragged Sharon back from her deep thoughts. As she stood up, preparing to step out of her warm bath, Sharon felt the blood rush to her head—vertigo!

With a squeal, Sharon fell back into the tub.

Guess I’m no longer as gracious as I used to be.

The impact smarting, Sharon attempted to stand up, to no avail. The fall had knocked the wind out of her and she felt faint. She could only just keep herself propped above the water. Sharon immediately reached for the help button she always wore around her wrist.

Moments later, she could hear a voice calling her name.

“Ms. Burnside, do you need help? This is Cindy from Alert1.”

“Darling, I’ve fallen down in the tub. I’m ever so shaken and cannot bring myself to stand back up, could you please send for help?”

“Right away, Ms. Burnside!”

With each passing moment, Sharon’s worry heightened, but her anxiety was dispelled at the sound of her front door. As the footsteps neared, Sharon heard a deep, concerned voice: “Ma’am, this is Chase from the fire station, I’m coming in to help y—. “

“Oh honey, no!”

At the sound of his voice Sharon realized that she was wearing nothing at all. Her debutante days may be behind her but she was not about to give a free show. “Avert your eyes and cover me with one of my blankets from the next room over, dear. I’m afraid I’m not proper.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Sharon heard her rescuer walk into the next room and back before he opened the bathroom door. The man approached her with the blanket held up like a protective shield. Grabbing the blanket, Sharon was able to cover herself.

After pressing the blanket to her body, Sharon looked up at her rescuer. She smiled in delighted surprise. It was the young man who had helped her across the street! He lifted her waterlogged form from the tub and carried her out to the waiting emergency vehicle.

Sharon felt herself flush for the third time that day. His muscles felt strong and safe.

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Lessons for seniors and caregivers:Bathtub Safety Hints

  • Keep your medical alert help button nearby at all times. This is even more important in and around the bathroom. You never know when you may need help.
  • Stay hydrated to reduce the risk of dizziness.
  • Install grab bars and other safety devices in the bathroom to help grip.
  • Consider a tub lift for easy access in and out of the tub.
  • Set the water heater to 120 degrees or lower to reduce the risk of scalding.
  • Place a rubber non-slip mat on the bathtub floor to reduce the risk of slips.

With a bit of prevention, you won’t be a damsel in distress. I cannot promise that a handsome young man will come to the rescue every time. But, I can tell you how amazing it feels to be in control of your own story.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

 

Tax season is in full swing, much to the chagrin of many tax payers and even a few overwhelmed accountants. But for seniors and caregivers, tax season means it’s time to round up medical expenses, mileage, and other expenses associated with your own care or the care of a loved one for the 2014 tax year. It’s no secret that taxes can be confusing, so it’s often difficult to know what tax benefits you or your loved ones are eligible to receive. (And to make things a little more complicated, tax credits, deductions, and thresholds often change from year to year.) These tips will help you navigate this tax season successfully and minimize your tax burden.

Deducting out-of-pocket medical expenses

For many tax payers, the threshold for deducting out-of-pocket medical expenses has increased from 7.5% of adjusted gross income to 10% of adjusted gross income for the 2014 tax year (for which you’ll file in early 2015). But if you or your spouse are over the age of 65, you’re exempt from that increase through the 2016 tax year (to be filed in 2017). What that means is you’re eligible to deduct the amount of your out-of-pocket (unreimbursed) and allowable medical and dental expenses that exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Tax advice for seniors and caregivers

In other words, if your total out-of-pocket, allowable medical expenses equals 10% of your adjusted gross income, you may deduct the 2.5% that exceeds the 7.5% threshold, but not the entire 10%. Travel expenses for medical care are also eligible, including mileage on your vehicle, bus fares, parking fees, and related expenses. A complete list of all qualifying medical and dental expenses can be found here.

Determining if your care recipient qualifies as a dependent

For caregivers, one of the most common questions to arise is whether the care recipient qualifies as a dependent on the caregiver’s tax return. A general rule of thumb is that an individual may qualify as a dependent when the care provider provides more than 50% of the recipient’s support for food, housing, medical care, transportation, and other basic needs.

The care recipient must also be a relative to qualify as a dependent, such as a mother, father, grandparent, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, but the dependent need not live with you as long as you are providing at least half of the person’s total support.The care recipient’s adjusted gross income must be less than $3,950, and he or she may not file a joint return with his or her spouse in order for a caregiver to claim the individual as a dependent. The good news is that if your loved one meets the eligibility requirements as a dependent, any out-of-pocket costs you contribute to his or her care will count towards your personal 7.5% or 10% threshold for the medical expense deduction.

Assisted living and other long-term care costs

If your loved one resides in an assisted living community, dementia care community, or other long-term care community, some or all of these costs may be deductible on your taxes, as well. According to MarketWatch, medical professionals must deem your loved one “chronically ill” in order for you to be able to deduct the full cost.

“The IRS defines this as either having severe cognitive impairments that require round-the-clock supervisory care, or needing help with at least two activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing and using the toilet. Full basic monthly expenses can be deducted for those who meet these definitions,” explains retirement reporter Elizabeth O’Brien. If your loved one is not deemed chronically ill, you may still deduct the portion of assisted living or long-term care fees that go toward medical care and expenses, such as nursing services, certain therapies, and medications.

What about long-term care insurance?

Qualified long-term care insurance premiums also count towards your out-of-pocket medical expenses. According to IRS Publication 502, “a qualified long-term care insurance contract is an insurance contract that provides only coverage of qualified long-term care services.” The Publication further clarifies that in order to qualify as a medical expense deduction, a long-term care insurance contract must:

  • Be guaranteed renewable,
  • Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed,
  • Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends under the contract must be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and,
  • Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a secondary payer, or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.

There is also a per-person limit on the amount of premiums that may be deducted, as follows:

  • For those age 40 and under: $370
  • For those age 41 to 50: $700
  • For those age 51 to 60: $1,400
  • For those age 61 to 70: $3,720
  • Age 71 or over: $4,660

Elderly Dependent Care Credit

IRS Publication 503 outlines the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which allows caregivers to receive tax credits if they paid someone to provide care to a dependent in order to be able to work outside the home or seek outside employment. These payments cannot be made to a person whom you could claim as a dependent on your tax return, a spouse, or to the parent of the qualifying person. The Qualifying Person Test will help you determine if you are able to take this deduction.

The Child and Dependent Care Credit may be up to 35% of your qualifying expenses, with other limits and criteria applying to the total eligible amount. For instance, you (and your spouse, if filing jointly) must have earned income in the tax year in which the credit is claimed, and the total qualifying expenses “must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you deduct or exclude from your income.”

Credit for the Elderly or Disabled Tax credit for the elderly or disabled

If you turned 65 prior to December 31, 2014, retired on permanent and total disability, and have taxable disability income, you may qualify for the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. IRS Publication 524 outlines the eligibility requirements and income limits in more detail. Figure A will help you determine your eligibility, and Table 1 can be used to determine if your income exceeds allowable thresholds to qualify for the credit.

The amount of the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled ranges from $3,750 to $7,500, depending on a variety of factors such as filing status, age, the status of any dependents, and whether one or both spouses are 65 or older and retired on total disability.

Just a few years ago, there weren’t many tax benefits available to family caregivers or even senior citizens. But as the population ages and more individuals are serving as primary family caregivers to an aging loved one than ever before, the government is beginning to implement credits and eligible deductions to help seniors and caregivers reduce their tax burdens. Caregiving is stressful both emotionally and financially, so these tax benefits are a welcome relief that enables some caregivers to continue providing much-needed care and support to their aging loved ones. If you’re a senior or a family caregiver, be sure to talk with an accountant about all the possible tax benefits available to you to minimize your tax burden or maximize returns.

Happy Birthday, Joan’s Journeyers! Jan. 27 celebrated the one-year move-in date of my experience with senior housing. Almost exactly a year ago, I boarded a plane, alone, from Baltimore. I traveled across country to Southern California, completely uncertain how my new life would evolve.

I was cheerfully greeted at the Los Angeles airport by a family friend. We stopped at a grocery store for items I wanted for my room, but my budging luggage had no space.

We arrived at Holiday Villa East in Santa Monica about 10 p.m. I was welcomed by the friendly and experienced building manager, who quickly mentioned that she had saved dinner for me. From that moment, I knew I was home.Joan and Friends Celebrating

The months have flown by with remarkable speed and excellent senior living experiences. I am pleased with the senior community I selected with the assistance of SeniorHomes.com counseling. I love living in Southern California. Being close to my children and grandchildren is the icing on the delicious cake.

As I recall the events leading to my move to senior housing, I am amazed at the hurdles I crossed. First and foremost, the decision was daunting to leave the familiarity and comfort of dear family, friends and my surrounding. Yet, the pull to be close to my children and grandchildren was greater.

In February 2014, my grandson Oliver invited me to his four-year birthday party. I promised to be there. From Baltimore, cross-country travel is complicated and tiring. To personally attend Oliver and my other grandchildren’s events, I had to change locations.

I evaluated the senior communities I previously visited at the recommendation of SeniorHomes.com. Holiday Villa East, in charming, urban Santa Monica, just 17 blocks from the beach, beaconed. A small unit was available. I agreed, and my senior housing journey began.

Downsizing, condo sale, move details, and leaving family and friends were difficult—in fact, scary. The adjustments that come with living in a new climate, community, and senior lifestyle, are huge. The good news is, one year later, I’ve ‘walked the walk’ and am happy and content with my decisions.

What’s next?

My answer, “Girls just wanna have fun.”

In the next Joan’s Journey, I will blog about enjoyable, fun, healthy lifestyle senior living activities. SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your favorite 55+ pastimes below. Until the next post later this month, 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 and grandchildren.

Alzheimer’s, or other forms of dementia, can make life incredibly difficult on seniors—and on their caregivers. Fortunately, there are memory care communities, which specialize in care for seniors dealing with dementia.

Just like with assisted living or skilled nursing communities, finding the right memory care community is a daunting task. It’s not always easy toWhat is Memory Care? know what services, amenities or care levels are available at different types of communities. That’s why we’ve published a new, comprehensive look at memory care, a one-stop article with all the information you’ll need to know, such as this section on what to look for when searching for a community:

Given the high costs associated with memory care, some families may seek the less expensive alternative of an assisted living community to care for their loved one. The good news is that more assisted living communities are offering “memory care light” for those who don’t exhibit wandering or require an enhance environment. For those seniors who exhibit wandering or require constant attention, a memory care community is the best option.

However, if may be difficult to find a community, especially in rural areas, that offers memory care. Of the senior living providers that offer memory care services, the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2012 found that only 26 percent serve residents with dementia or have a portion of the community designated as providing dementia care. Some companies, such as Silverado or Autumn Leaves, only provide memory care at their communities while others offer this care type along with assisted living.

Figure 1. Selected characteristics among residential care communities, by community bed size: United States, 2012

Characteristics of Memory Care Communities

Courtesy of NCHS Data Brief Number 170, November 2014. Operating Characteristics of Residential Care Communities, by Community Bed Size: United States, 2012.

With the larger communities being those that primarily offer memory care, you may be reluctant to have your loved one join, as he/she might not receive one-on-one care or be overwhelmed by being surrounded by many people. However, many memory care communities are designed around a neighborhood-style setting, where common areas are duplicated throughout the community. This allows residents to have a homelike atmosphere within a larger setting.

Once you have identified a community, your loved one will be assessed to determine whether they are a good fit for the community, i.e. whether the community can provide the type of care they require. Depending upon the community’s assessment policy, a nurse may visit your home to assess your loved one. It is important to be honest about your loved one’s behavior, whether he/she wanders or has difficulty walking, so the nurse can develop a care plan that thoroughly addresses all his/her care needs.

To learn more about memory care, read the complete article here. And if you have further questions about memory care, or want to find the right memory care community for your loved one, simply call the number at the top of this page.

With a longer life expectancy, many people today are living well into their 80s, 90s, and even 100s. It’s not uncommon for couples to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. But as couples sometimes get divorced, and in other cases, one spouse outlives the other, more seniors are finding a special someone to share the rest of their lives with long into their senior years. In fact, many of these unions happen in senior living communities, so it’s only appropriate when staff and residents alike get involved in planning a big celebration on the grounds.

Whether senior lovebirds opt to get married in the beautiful senior living communities where they reside or go the traditional route and wed in a church, many senior couples are opting to tie the knot in grand celebrations or intimate, romantic ceremonies. These lovely couples once again found love in their golden years, celebrating their new unions in a variety of ways—but always filled with love. marriage in the golden years

Eugene (Gene) and Edith Godfrey

In 2013, residents at Brightview Mt. Laurel in Mt. Laurel, N.J., renewed their wedding vows more than 65 years after they first married in 1947. Eugene (Gene) and Edith Godfrey, the happy couple, have resided at the community since 2012. The couple renewed their vows in front of friends and family, Brightview associates and special guests. Brightview describes the Godfreys as “a dynamic pair with a storied history and a lifelong commitment to service and altruism.”

Jerry and Carolyn Peck

In July 2014, Treeo Senior Living experienced its very first wedding between residents when 78-year-old Carolyn Ormond wed Jerry Peck, 80, on the bride’s birthday. Two of the community’s very first residents, the pair met at Treeo and quickly became friends. In fact, Bishop Steve Downey of the Orem 1st Ward, who performed the ceremony, said he saw the two lovebirds playing a game of cards during one of their very first days at the community. “I don’t know if I’ve seen them apart since,” Downey told the Herald Extra. “They’ve really had a wonderful friendship, relationship, and they’ve been good for each other.”

Jim and Jean Mongin

The summer of 2014 was sizzling with love stories. In August 2014, Jean Rohloff, 91, and Jim Mongin, 97, wed at the Good Shepherd Assisted Living community in Seymour, Wis., where the couple resides. These lovebirds met two years beforehand and had formed a strong friendship. The night after their first date (two years after they first met), Jim called and asked Jean to be his wife. Friends and family joined in the celebration, joyous that their loved ones had once again found that special someone to bring joy to their lives.

Arthur and June Burns

Arthur Burns, 94, and June Edwards, 79, didn’t get married on the grounds of a senior living community, but they did meet in the community where they reside, and chose to marry in a nearby church. The pair had a “whirlwind romance,” according to Athelhampton House & Gardens, meeting in April with a simple lunchtime “Hello.” Edwards took the initiative and suggested marriage to Mr. Burns, who readily agreed to marry the woman he says, “makes him feel young again.”

Gogo Sarah Mokoena and David Mthembu

Gogo Sarah Mokoena, 87, and David Mthembu, 98, of South Africa, decided to celebrate the country’s Heritage Day a little differently in 2014: They got married at the Mohlakeng Old Age Home where they reside. A timely event, it also happened to coincide with the Mohlakeng Old Age Home’s 25th anniversary, so the community tied the two events together and held a fabulous celebration that was also attended by Randfontein Local Municipality Executive Mayor Sylvia Thebenare.

Jose Manuel Riella and Martina Lopez

Jose Manuel Riella and Martina Lopez had been together for 80 years, and joined in a civil union for 40 of those years, when they decided to make it official with a wedding ceremony in 2013. Riella, 103 at the time the couple wed, and Lopez, 99 at the time of the wedding, had never been married in a church despite being recognized as a civil union for the 40 years prior. The couple has eight children, 50 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren. So why the decision to finally tie the knot in a church ceremony after all those years? According to the couple, they chose to have a ceremony to “satisfy their family.” There sure are many loved ones to satisfy, but we’re betting their family thought this lovely couple was deserving of a true, romantic wedding ceremony.

As these touching stories illustrate, it’s never too late to find love again or to make it official even when decades and decades have passed. More and more, seniors are throwing old ideas out the window and embracing the idea that you’re never too old to celebrate your love. Love is in the air, not just in the U.S., but all around the world. Whether you’re 50, 65, 75, 90, or 100+, if you’ve been lucky enough to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, don’t be afraid to share your joy with the world through a grand wedding ceremony or even a small, romantic exchange of vows. You deserve it!

*NOTE: OK, Jay-Z did not really guest write this, but this post contains many Jay-Z song titles. Use the comments section below to see how many you can identify!

During the late stages of aging, your Mom may stop speaking. When she disengages, you may feel blocked out and frustrated. Meanwhile, Mom may feel just as frustrated, as she cannot express her needs. It can be a difficult time for both of you.

“Don’t You Know,” your time with Mom should be so much more than sitting in silence, watching the clock. With the following blueprint, you can empower both of you and solve the “silent senior situation” forever.

First, “Get Your Mind Right”Jay-Z

  • Empathize. Start by putting yourself in her shoes.
  • Imagine what it is like as a suddenly silent senior. When you cannot speak, it is easy to feel isolated, like you cannot connect to those around you.
  • Ignore. There may be a part of you that says “Lucky Me” and feels down about it. Ignore that part. Start with a mindset of “I Just Wanna Love U.”
  • Forgive and feet forward. This is not your fault. This is not her fault. This is not an encore to relieving history or rehashing memories. Every family has regrets. Time to move “On to the Next One”.
  • Focus on what’s next. You get an “Encore” to make new memories with Mom.

Remember the Necessary Non-verbals

People express just as much through body language as through words. With a gentle touch and a watchful eye, you will be able to tell if Mom is “Feelin’ It,” even without words.

  • Smile and maintain eye contact. There is nothing like a smile to make a connection.
  • Read the subtle facial expressions. There is a reason we say the eyes are the window to the soul. You will be able to detect subtle emotions in her face.
  • Watch for responses. Tension often shows itself in the face and shoulders. If her shoulders creep up or her face tightens, you are making her uncomfortable. You know you are doing something right when that tension evaporates.

Carry On a Conversation

Be patient when talking with your elderly loved ones. Keep the following tips in mind to make conversations with Mom “A Dream.”

  • Sit face to face. This helps Mom see your expressions and read your lips. “Face Off” and show that you are giving her your full attention.
  • Start soft. Say hello in a slow, clear, and warm manner. Give the conversation some time before jumping into more complex or complicated conversational topics.
  • Keep the conversation simple and clear. Stick to one topic. Keep your sentences short, simple and to the point. This will help her keep track of the conversation. That means talking at a slow and steady pace and at a good volume.
  • Allow extra time to think. Give her the time she needs to respond. You may have “A Million and One Questions,”, but you do not need to ask them all at once.
  • Move past the past, even if you disagree with her beliefs or notice her memories are wrong. Correcting her only brings the conversation to a halt.
  • Ask if you do not understand. Do not be afraid to ask Mom to repeat or clarify her thoughts so you can reach that “Moment of Clarity”.
  • Use names, not pronouns. Refer to people by their names, instead of using ‘she’ and ‘he.’ It helps both of you to be clear on “What We Talkin’ About”.
  • Narrate your actions. If you are providing any hands-on care, talk about what you are doing in a smooth and consistent manner. Ask her if what you are doing feels good, and keep your touches light.

Speak the Language of Doing

There are plenty of activities the two of you can do together besides talking. Anything aside from sitting may help you both. Doing things together says “You Must Love Me” to your senior participant.

  • Be musical. Music is a powerful tool for seniors. It provides distraction, relaxation and enjoyment. Music resonates in the deep parts of our brains and studies show that it is an effective therapeutic tool. Tied to memory, it can transport you back to the meaningful moments of your life. Play Mom’s favorite tunes and you will see the joy on her face.
  • Read together. Read to her. Whether she loves to hear her favorite stories or just likes listening to your voice, reading can be a great way to bond and bridge the silent divide.
  • See nature. Get out and get some fresh air. Go sit in your “Beach Chair.” Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors and feel their rejuvenating effects.
  • Play a board game. Chess or checkers anyone? “Bring It On!” A well-loved puzzle or strategy game works the brain and needs no words.
  • Scrapbook. You and Mom may mentally connect well with the old times. Once the scrapbook is completed, she will be able to go through the pictures any time she wants. Scrapbooking helps memories stay “Young Forever”.
  • Write together. Writing connects with a different part of the cortex than speech. You may find Mom is more comfortable with constructing an open letter to the editor than with chatting.

You may have “99 Problems” but a silent senior is not one. Instead, this is an opportunity for you to show your love and patience in a new way. Follow these tips and “Breathe Easy.” It will amaze you how well you can understand Mom’s needs and desires, even when she can no longer verbalize them.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of the aging-in-place tech company Alert-1, with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College—where he nurtured his appreciation for Jay-Z’s poetic lyricism—and an MBA from Stanford. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

The dangers of heart disease are well-known. Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, and account for roughly one-third of all deaths in the United States.

February is American Heart Month, and Brookdale—the United States’ largest senior housing company—is honoring the month with an informational webinar. On Feb. 18, Dr. Kevin O’Neil, Brookdale’s  chief medical officer, will host the webinar, titled “Heart Health for Senior Women.” As the title indicates, O’Neil will discuss issues specifically related to women, and lifestyle changes that can minimize the risk for heart disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are a major problem for women, who account for a majority of the country’s heart-related deaths, and the risks only increase with age. According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 83.6 million American adults have a cardiovascular disease, with more than half of those being 60 or older. In those 80 and older, more than 87 percent of women have a cardiovascular disease.

Heart-related diseases are also the leading causes of death for men and women 65 and older.

For more information, or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about heart disease and ways to help prevent it, visit the American Heart Association.