Archive for the ‘Senior Living News’ Category

Levels of Care in a Continuing Care Retirement Community

This is a guest post contributed by be.group.

You’re strong now. You can get around with ease, you still drive, and home maintenance is getting kind of annoying but you still love to be in your home. Why leave your space now for one of those nursing homes?

Perhaps you haven’t considered all your options. Enjoying life at a CCRC

Today’s continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) shatter the myth that all senior living communities are “old folks’ homes” where octogenarians sit around all day. Today’s retirement communities offer multiple levels of care all on one campus for a wide age range.

The active, independent senior can enjoy residential living, with all the freedoms of living at home and none of the burdens of maintenance. As care needs change, that same person can receive higher levels of care (assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, hospice) without ever having to uproot and move. The arrangement is perfect for couples where one spouse needs a higher level of care than the other as well as singles looking for a community to grow with them over time.

A new video from be.group describes the lifestyle options and levels of care available in a CCRC.

“If something happens to me I got assisted living that can help me out, I got skilled nursing…and while I’m in trouble but getting good care, [my wife] is still here with her friends and with the routine that she’s established,” says one resident of White Sands La Jolla in La Jolla, Calif. “And so it takes a lot of uncertainty and a lot of risk out of our future life.”

To learn more about CCRCs, watch the video, “Levels of Care in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.”

be.group is one of California’s largest nonprofit providers of senior living communities. Learn more about your lifestyle options at thebegroup.org.

Image via Stock.xchng by benedeki

 

It’s Never too Late to Meet Your Match: Seniors Finding Love in Their Golden Years

Today’s seniors are living longer, fuller and more vibrant lives than ever. Gone are the days of spending your golden years in solitude and isolation. Today, seniors are staying active well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s. Some go back to school to get the coveted degree they’ve always wanted.

Others cross items off their bucket lists by jumping out of an airplane, traveling to exotic places, taking a cruise or learning to square dance. Whatever their interests may be, seniors are following their dreams and making things happen.

But what about the romance department? You should never feel “too old” for love. And today’s seniors are finding compatible companions to share their golden years with in assisted living communities, skilled  nursing facilities, and at everyday events.

Love Might Come Easy, or It Might Not

For some, it’s like fate and comes easily. But some seniors struggle to overcome painful pasts, such as the death of a spouse, a difficult divorce and other struggles that life throws in the path to happiness from time to time.

Widows and widowers sometimes struggle with guilt, feeling as though they’re cheating on their spouse. Time does heal wounds, and eventually most come to terms knowing that their spouses would have wanted them to continue living a happy, fulfilling life.

It can also be challenging to avoid comparing potential partners to the love of your life who has passed on. But many seniors are able to overcome these obstacles and find lasting companionship and a love that’s not better or worse than what they experienced before, but different and enriching in its own right.

Every day, seniors are finding partners to share the rest of their lives with in all kinds of places.

Love is Everywhere, If You’re Open to It

Sunrise Senior Living told of one such story in a February 2012 blog post. Leah and John met in a senior living community, Leah having been divorced for 21 years. The couple had an instant connection, leading to John’s proposal and the couple’s eventual marriage, which had been going strong for nine years at the time the article was written.

Another example offered by Sunrise Senior Living is of 89-year-old Bob and a 90-year-old Nancy who met at bingo. Nancy hesitated to get too acquainted with another man. She had been a widow for 12 years. Eventually, however, she agreed to join Bob for dinner. At the time Sunrise Senior Living posted the story, the couple was engaged to be married.

It really is possible to find the perfect companion to share your golden years with.

Concerns for Adult Children and Other Family Members

Sometimes, adult children can have some conflicting emotions when an elderly parent considers jumping back into the dating pool. This often happens if the other parent has passed on, even if it’s been many years. It’s important for adult children and other family members to realize the value of having a loving companion.

CareConscious offers some excellent tips for caregivers and other family members to cope with the idea of an elder loved one having a late-in-life companion, such as accepting the idea that seniors can still have active sex lives — and it’s totally normal, and actually a great form of exercise.

There’s also the possibility that mom or dad might decide that they’d like to explore a homosexual relationship. This is happening more and more, with some seniors having stayed in the closet most of their lives and deciding now’s the time to be out in the open.

For others, it’s more of an interest that they’ve never had a chance to explore before as they were perfectly happy and committed in their previous heterosexual relationship until their partner passed away.

Real Concerns and Precautions for Late-in-Life Companionship

On the flipside, there are some real concerns as well. If your elderly loved one has dementia, you should look into a guardianship if you suspect that your loved one’s paramour has less-than-pure intentions related to finances or other matters.

Additionally, it’s always a wise idea to consult an attorney before your aging loved one remarries. This helps avoid conflicts down the road with medical decision-making, the division of assets, how it might affect your loved one’s eligibility for Medicaid and other concerns.

In most cases, seniors who find companions have simply found the perfect person to share the rest of their lives with. Companionship in the later years is so important to avoid isolation, which can lead to depression and contribute to illness. If your aging parent is ready to stick a toe in the dating pool, embrace her willingness to explore potential relationships and socialize. These late-in-life relationships are often among the most loyal, rewarding relationships seniors have experienced throughout their whole lives.

Image via Stock.xchng by bjearwicke

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Why Seniors Need More Sun: Aging Eyes and Your Health

Researchers are always coming up with fascinating new ways to study the connections between the body, the aging process and physical and emotional health. There are tons of studies that prove that there are many external factors that contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, for instance. But one recent study has produced some intriguing insights linking your eyes to possible health and wellness woes.

Sunlight Impacts Your Mood – and Much More

You may be familiar with a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition is best described as seasonal depression that almost always occurs during the winter months. This has been linked to the impacts natural sunlight has on the body and on your mood.

Who doesn’t feel a sense of gratification or fulfillment when you take a moment, turn your face upward to the bright shining sun and just bask in the warm glow? Well, it turns out that aging eyes develop some problems that impact the amount of blue light that enters the eye. In turn, this disrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythm and hormone levels — which are linked to health and wellness.  Sunlight essential for seniors' health

Shift Workers at Higher Risk of Common Ailments and Health Conditions

Shift workers, who often have disruptions in circadian rhythm from staying awake to work at night and sleeping during the day. That means they’re missing out on critical daylight hours to get the sunlight necessary to regulate the body’s internal clock.

Studies show that the disruption in circadian rhythm leaves shift workers more susceptible to diseases and chronic conditions like insomnia, heart disease, and cancer. This leads researchers to question how other factors limiting light exposure impact circadian rhythms and health — such as the eye itself.

The Aging Eye May Reduce Essential Light

The New York Times reports on research findings from Dr. Martin Mainster, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and his wife, Dr. Patricia Turner, an opthamologist. As you age, the lenses of your eyes yellow over time and your pupils narrow, reducing the amount of light that enters.

This prevents ample light from reaching certain cells in your retinas,  which are responsible for regulating your body’s internal clock — your circadian rhythm — by controlling the secretion and suppression of two hormones:

  • Melatonin, which promotes rest and repair, preparing your body for sleep.
  • Cortisol, which helps regulate blood sugar, metabolism and other key bodily processes, promoting energy and alertness to tackle the day.

Circadian Rhythm Disruptions Start Sooner Than You Think

The aging eye starts to filter light sooner than you probably think. It’s not a problem limited to the elderly; in fact, by age 45 the average adult is only getting about 50 percent of the light required to fully activate the photoreceptors in the retina, and thus the circadian system.

At age 55, the average person only gets about 37 percent of the necessary light, and by age 75, the average person gets only 17 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the body’s internal clock.

Eyes filter blue light with age

Older People Need More Light to Get the Same Benefits

Several studies ferment the relationship between light and melatonin suppression. One European study, for example, demonstrated that the same amount of light that suppressed melatonin in women in their 20s had no effect at all on women in their 50s. And that means that younger people will feel awake and energized with far less light than someone a few decades older. By controlling cortisol and melatonin, ample exposure to blue light leads to:

  • Better memory retention
  • Increased energy
  • Feelings of wakefulness and alertness
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased sleepiness during the day

The key is that it takes more light to produce the same results in older people, because their aging eyes are filtering out more light than a younger person’s eyes.

What It Means for Older Adults: Get More Sun!

The bottom line is that the older you get, the more sunlight (particularly blue light) you’ll need to feel energized, alert, and content. Older adults have two disadvantages. One is that their aging eyes are filtering out more light due to the aging process.

The second is that older adults are more likely to spend more time indoors, which limits blue light exposure even further. Try to expose yourself to bright indoor lights, like fluorescent lighting, if you must be indoors during the day, and make an effort to get outdoors and soak up some natural sunlight.

Yes, extended exposure to UV rays is bad for your skin — but great for your eyes and your body’s internal clock. Make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more.

Cataract Surgery Poses Another Challenge

Another problem faced by older adults who have had cataract surgery is that in about one-third of cataract surgeries, blue-blocking lenses are used as intraocular implants — a practice established to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. This makes it even more difficult for those people to get ample blue light.

If your doctor recommends cataract surgery, discuss the risks and benefits of blue-blocking lenses with your surgeon. And if you’ve already had cataract surgery, that means you’ll need to compensate with more exposure to blue light.

How does light impact your mood and energy levels? Do you suffer from the winter blues? What do you do to get more exposure to natural light during the dreary winter months? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Image via Stock.xchng by krappweis and L-O-L-A

Post by Angela Stringfellow

At 60, Oprah’s Still Inspiring You to “Live Your Best Life”

Oprah Winfrey hit a big milestone yesterday: She turned 60. As one of the world’s most powerful women, this is another milestone among many she’s achieved in her life. But as she joins the ranks of millions of other people around the world entering her golden years, she has an opportunity to make a huge impact on people’s lives. At 60, you wouldn’t really consider her a senior.

But it’s in their 60s that many people start to really come to grips with the concept of aging. You may start to notice changes to your body or your mind. Your children are probably having children of their own. Life starts to take on a whole new meaning as you learn to appreciate just how short it really is, and how much every moment matters.

Oprah’s Secrets to Living Your Best Life

Oprah, of course, has always been a positive influence. She’s built a massive media empire around her personal brand. While some would take advantage of that kind of power and misuse it, Oprah leverages her influence to make people’s lives better.

Live Your Best Life with Oprah

In fact, her name has become practically synonymous with her most famous motto: “Live Your Best Life,” and her website is devoted to sharing advice, resources and heart-warming stories to inspire people everywhere to live their lives to the fullest. In honor of Oprah’s big 6-0, NewsOne shares her three top tips for Living Your Best Life:

  1. Find a stress-management tool, practice, or program that works for you.
  2. Get in the habit of regular exercise, and stick with it.
  3. “Have faith in a power other than yourself.”

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Yet Oprah’s simple approach to getting the most out of life works for many people. As we start to enter the later half of life, taking time to take care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. When you take care of you, you’re better equipped to fulfill all the roles you take on in your life. That might be mother, son, daughter, grandmother, professional, spouse, leader, friend, caregiver, or maybe you’re a role model yourself. Whatever roles you identify with, you can be a better mom, friend, caregiver, and so on when you’re at your best physically and emotionally.

What You Can Learn About Aging from Oprah

Oprah’s always been a champion for others, and you can bet that she’ll be a beacon of grace and class, taking every added year with appreciation for all that she’s learned and achieved in the year before. Feeling down and out about the idea of getting older? The Huffington Post points out a few things we can learn from Oprah about aging gracefully:

  • Embrace your age, and be grateful for the experiences and accomplishments life has awarded you over the years.
  • Define yourself; don’t let others define you. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain if it means sacrificing your true self.
  • Take every new year as a blessing. Set goals for yourself for each coming year to learn something new or try something new. What valuable lessons have you learned this year?
  • Don’t lie about your age. Be proud of every year you’ve spent making your way through the difficult maze of this crazy thing we call life. If you’ve overcome challenges, own your achievements. If you’ve created something big, helped others, or did something everyone said you could never do, let those moments define your life.
  • Be true to your passion. If you don’t allow others to define you, you’re free to pursue your own passion. Focus on the things that captivate you and energize you, and use your passion to serve others — that’s Oprah’s secret to success.

Who inspires you to continue living life to the fullest, regardless of age? Tell us who you think of as a role model, and share your favorite credos from Oprah and others who inspire you.

Screenshot via Oprah.com

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Affordable Care Act Center of Heated Political Debate, But What Does It Mean for Seniors?

Unless you’ve been isolated from all forms of media for the last few weeks -and months, you’re probably aware of the heated debate underway regarding the Patient Portability and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often abbreviated ACA or Affordable Care Act. With some of the provisions of the law going into effect on January 1, 2014, people started to investigate their health care options available through state and federal health insurance exchanges and learn the fate of the individual insurance policies they had previously. It’s sparked a national controversy, with members from both the far right and far left, along with many, many in between and those outside of party affiliations at all, expressing their views about the ACA.

Proponents and critics of the ACA each have strong reasons for their opinions, and there’s a lot of discussion about people from different demographic groups — one being the senior population, particularly Medicare beneficiaries. With all the speculation and opinions being reported in the news, it’s no wonder seniors are confused about what they should be doing and what to expect.  Here’s a look at the major changes impacting Medicare, as well as opinions on the potential impacts from both viewpoints.

Is Medicare Losing Funding or Cutting Provider Payments?

The ACA includes $716 billion in cuts from Medicare payments between 2013 and 2022. Critics say this could be devastating to an essential healthcare program for our elderly citizens — and one that was already on shaky ground. However, the Obama Administration says at last some of these funds are actually being reinvested into the Medicare program. For instance, the funds will be used to close the current “donut hole” that exists in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, which has caused financial duress for many seniors since Part D was implemented. ACA impact on Medicare costs

Once a senior reaches the donut hole dollar amount in prescription drug payments, she is responsible for paying 100 percent of drug costs out-of-pocket until the upper threshold is reached. The current plan gradually closes this gap and the out-of-pocket costs for seniors, with a goal of eliminating it completely by 2020. In 2014, for instance, Medicare recipients reaching the donut hole will get a 47.5 percent discount on brand-name medications and a 21 percent discount on generic drugs. Those discounts will gradually increase until the coverage gap is minimized. However, U.S. News confirms that Medicare recipients earning more than $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a married couple — about 5 percent of Medicare recipients — will pay more for their Medicare Part D coverage.

Will Seniors be able to Keep Their Doctors?

The Medicare payment cuts impact payments to providers under the Medicare Advantage program, a program that has been experiencing steady enrollment growth for the past several years. Insurers providing these plans say that funding cuts have forced them to tighten networks, reduce benefits and increase the out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries. This is one of the primary concerns noted by those who oppose further cuts to the Medicare program — that more providers will withdraw from the program.

Opinions are split on whether doctors will pull out of the Medicare program. While reduced payments could certainly push some in that direction, the ACA includes other provisions as provider incentives. For instance, new programs will be implemented to help reduce hospital re-admissions through coordinated transitional care, as well as bonus payments to primary care physicians for certain services that will improve the quality of care. So while the ACA doesn’t intentionally force physicians out of Medicare provider networks, some providers may make that choice on their own.

Will Medicare Premiums Increase?

A central point of the current heated debate is the cost of health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act. When the ACA was introduced, one of the main motivators to implementing the law was to reduce healthcare costs while expanding coverage to millions of additional Americans. Now that the healthcare exchanges are open, some are finding the new plans to be more affordable while others have been hit with significantly higher out-of-pocket costs. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare says Medicare recipients will actually save an average of $4,200 over the next 10 years in the form of lower prescription costs, free preventative care and reductions in healthcare spending across the board.

Since the ACA was implemented in 2010, premiums for Medicare Advantage plans have actually decreased by an average of 9.8 percent, according to the NCPSSM. But the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation paints a different picture, with 2014 premium projections showing a 14 percent increase over the 2013 rates.

Medicare Now Includes ACA Required Minimum Coverage

One of the most-discussed features of the ACA is that it requires everyone in the U.S. to have the same minimum amount of covered services, including those on Medicare plans. Seniors on Medicare will now have health insurance covergambling with Medicare coverageage for preventative care, such as wellness visits, without the former Medicare Part B co-payment. With open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges and Medicare happening around the same time, many Medicare beneficiaries were confused about whether they were required to choose a new health insurance plan.

All existing Medicare Part A beneficiaries are considered to meet the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements, meaning they didn’t have to select a new plan. In fact, Medicare beneficiaries shouldn’t use the ACA healthcare exchange website at all. Instead, they should use the Medicare Plan Finder. Through February 14, 2014, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries may review their current plans, prescription drug coverage, premiums and deductibles and opt to switch to Original Medicare coverage. Anyone choosing to do so must select a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan by February 14th in order to receive Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits.

Medicare beneficiaries will now receive an annual wellness exam, most standard health screenings, such as those for diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as mammograms and colonoscopies, with no out-of-pocket costs. However, the free preventative coverage under Medicare Advantage plans may vary from plan to plan, as these are private plans sold from health insurance companies as alternatives to the original Medicare benefit.

Medicare Advantage Faces Most Uncertainty

There’s a lot of information floating around the web about the ACA, littered with opinions, speculation, data and a mix of myths and facts. Even the same statistics and figures from the same study can look vastly different when analyzed from different views. But there is one thing the majority seems to agree on, and that is that among the senior population, those on Medicare Advantage plans face the most uncertainty. With no clear answer on how things will really shake out in terms of increased out-of-pocket costs, coverage and provider networks, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could land on either end of the scale.

Much of these changes will depend on how the individual insurance company interprets the law and makes changes to those plans. Seniors on Medicare Advantage plans should review their benefits and costs carefully, and seek expert help if needed. No one wants to receive a surprise health care bill for thousands of dollars, especially seniors who are already on limited incomes.

President Obama is set to deliver his State of the Union Address tomorrow evening. His advisors have indicated that he’ll focus on issues like income inequality, gun control and immigration. Some political commentators tend to think health care reform will be minimized in the President’s speech this year due to the rocky rollout and ongoing controversy. Others, however, think he’d be ignoring the elephant in the room and must devote at least some time to discussing his signature legislative achievement and what Americans can expect in the coming months.

Do you think seniors will be heavily impacted by the Affordable Care Act? Share your opinions with us in the comments below.

Images via Stock.xchng by forwardcom and Morguefile by cohdra

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Eight Tips for Survival in the Sandwich Generation

This is a guest post submitted by Lauren Hill, a contributing author for Lift Caregiving.

A growing number of retirement age adults are finding that the peaceful retirement which they had been saving and hoping for is at risk. There are some threats which you may already have planned for: a downturn in the economy or failing health could present difficulties when it comes to retirement. However, a new threat to enjoying your retirement years could affect you on two fronts. The term “sandwich generation” is one which more and more baby boomers are getting to know all too well.

Adding Parents to the Mix

The term refers to adults who are caring for their parents and their children. Many of the sandwich generation are bringing their parents into their homes and others are working to provide the necessary financing in order to support their parents in a long-term care facility. At the same time, the sandwich generation may be supporting their college-aged children or even opening their homes to adult children who have recently found themselves out of work.

Protecting Your Physical and Emotional Health

While you may have gladly opened your arms and homes to your elderly parents, the weight of caring for both children and parents can have a tremendous impact on your stress level. If you are bearing the burden of caring for your parents and your children, it may be some consolation to you to know that you are not alone. Just knowing that there are others in the same position as you isn’t enough to ease your burdens, however. You need to take steps to protect yourself from burning out. Taking time for yourself

Burn out may not even be your greatest risk. On-going research is finding that caregivers in the sandwich generation are much more likely to develop chronic illness than the general population. What can you do to protect your health in this situation?

1. Make time for yourself.

First of all, you need to be sure that you are getting enough rest. Without a good 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, you will eventually find that the level of care which you are providing is slipping. Eventually, your health will suffer as well. If you can’t get enough sleep at night, then take to sleep when your parent is napping.

A good night’s sleep isn’t enough on its own. Try to arrange for some time now and then when you are able to go shopping or have lunch with a friend. Even a ten-minute soak in the tub can improve your ability to resist becoming sick.

2. Keep the lines of communication open.

Conflicts are sure to develop from time to time. However, you can reduce the number of conflicts by talking openly with the different parties involved. Many members of the sandwich generation are finding that their marriages are suffering. One way to protect your marriage is to talk often with your spouse about goals, struggles, and each other.

It will also be important for you to communicate regularly with any siblings involved in the long-term care of your parents. You must come to the realization that you cannot do this on your own. Your siblings must come to this realization as well. The more that you are able to talk through this situation with your family, the better able each of you will be to share the burden.

3. Look for and accept help.

You might find that your parent enjoys time with some of your friends or siblings. If someone offers you a meal, then accept it. As your friends realize that you are providing care, they may naturally want to reach out with supportive gestures. You, and your parents, will be better off when you are able to accept that support.

Enlist help from your kids. Involving your family, when appropriate, can ease your burden and help everyone to realize some of the benefits of having your parents around.

It is also okay for you to tell people “no” from time to time. Understand your limits and don’t feel bad about letting people know that you are caring for your parent and sometimes other activities will have to be put to the side.

4. Locate resources.

In a similar vein, you should look for supportive resources in your community. You may be able to find a support group. You might also have access to a respite program or an in-home caregiver from time to time. There may even be benefits available to you through your workplace. When you accompany your parent to doctors’ visits, you may want to ask the doctor about resources which are available in the community. You may also benefit from resources available to you through the Internet: http://www.caregivers.com/caregiver-wellness/sandwich-generation-month/.

5. Visit with professionals.

You will naturally want to have relevant discussions with your parent’s doctor, but there are other professionals for you to get to know.

  • Ask the pharmacist about medications that your parent is taking.
  • Talk with a financial planner in order to protect yourself and your future financially.
  • Consider talking with a therapist about the stress which you are experiencing.

The more information you are able to gather, the better prepared you will be to prevent trouble.

6. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet.

Protecting your physical health is much easier when you are feeding your body the nutrients it needs to function. Take time to sit down to three well-balanced meals a day. Pack your meals full of protein, vegetables, and nutrients to give you the energy that you need throughout the day.

7. Squeeze in some time for exercise.

Even just ten minutes of exercise a day can increase your endorphins and improve your mood. What can you do in just a few minutes?

  • Stretch
  • Take a walk
  • Play with your dog
  • Dance to a song on the radio
  • Practice some tai chi or yoga
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Over time, you’ll notice that your physical and emotional health will benefit from the exercise which you have been able to build into your day.

8. Allow room for mistakes.

The realization that you are only human and that you are starting out on a new situation can help you at the end of each day to accept your own best efforts. There will be times when you and your parent will be at odds. You might make mistakes along the way. Dwelling on your mistakes won’t make the situation any better. Forgive yourself and move on.

Lauren Hill is a contributing author for Lift Caregiving, a company offering support to caregivers in the Richmond, VA area.

Sources:

http://www.examiner.com/article/seven-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-beat-burn-out

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Issue%20Brief/2005/Aug/A%20Look%20at%20Working%20Age%20Caregivers%20Roles%20%20Health%20Concerns%20%20and%20Need%20for%20Support/854_Ho_lookatworkingcaregiversroles_IB%20pdf.pdf

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiver-wellness/sandwich-generation-month/

http://betterafter50.com/2013/07/caring-together-again-tips-for-living-within-the-sandwich-generation/

http://artofagingblog.com/four-tips-for-the-sandwich-generation/

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Health Tech, Wearable Gadgets in the Spotlight at CES 2014

For many of us, the New Year brings a sense of renewal, motivation to meet our goals in the coming year, a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and a whole bunch of optimism and feel-good vibes.For technology enthusiasts, it also brings the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where gadget makers show off their latest mind-boggling innovations in Las Vegas. This year, the health and fitness sector is getting a lot of attention, as more wearable devices that help us get and stay healthy and tools for managing health and wellness are beginning to reach the market. This year’s event wrapped up last week, on January 10th.

Aging technology solutions is a growing market

Fox Business cites the aging population as a driver behind the growing trend. “Three medical technology stories to watch in this arena will be wearable technologies for fitness, aging-in-place technologies, and real-time monitoring, which all tackle problems stemming from an aging population and facilitate a digital transition to a more consumer-centric approach to healthcare,” says author John D. Korry. Tech for Seniors

Healthcare consumers are now more informed and take a more active role in their own care, which is why the industry at large is emphasizing its focus on patient-centered care. “It’s all about earlier detection of issues, delivery of care in a manner least invasive to a person’s living standards, and use of data to take a more proactive role in personal health — enabled by digital technologies and applications,” Korry says.

Remote care and monitoring products make an impact

Standout products at this year’s CES mostly center on technologies that aid aging-in-place. According to business news and analysis site FT.com, exhibits from the digital health sector grew by 40 percent compared to last year. One example is MD Live, a company enabling patients to schedule appointments with doctors via the television screen. Patients have access to more than 3,000 physicians who can treat minor ailments remotely and send prescriptions to patients’ local pharmacies. Tied to the Affordable Care Act, MD Live’s service is contracted with Nevada’s Exchange in addition to 400 major companies, including the likes of Yahoo and Qualcomm.

AgeinPlaceTech.com identifies 10 technologies emerging from CES 2014 that could prove valuable for seniors and caregivers, such as CarePredict, which demonstrated a product called CarePredict Tempo at this year’s event. The gadget itself is a $99 bracelet that packs the wearer’s movement, location and motion. Additional room beacons can be added for $19 each. This data is sent to the cloud, meaning caregivers can monitor aging loved ones while at work or even from afar. There are also alert capabilities, which notifies caregivers if patterns are detected that could indicate danger. Check out CarePredict.com for more details.

Fall prevention from afar and tools connecting caregivers with providers

Other wearable devices and remote monitoring tools were also showcased at CES 2014, and some take a slightly different approach. SenseGiz, for instance, is a fall detection device to notify family and friends with an alarm and text alert so they can obtain help quickly. There’s also a panic button for emergencies and an option to post a Facebook update to alert more family and friends. With three sensitivity levels for fall detection, this gadget is a valuable tool for seniors living independently or living with family members but alone during the work day. Learn more about SenseGiz in this press release.

Senior Housing News also identifies a few standout products unveiled for seniors at CES 2014, including a smart pill box, the Wellograph Watch that tracks vital signs, and Angela Express, a system designed for senior living providers to connect rehab residents their family and friends, and providers via video chat, instant messaging and other communication features. The system facilitates communication between providers and family, helping family members provide proper care and promote wellness, easing the transition from rehabilitation settings to home.

These products are just a few of the latest tech innovations with valuable potential for seniors, caregivers and senior living providers. The best is yet to come, but one thing is clear: Technology is re-shaping the possibilities in senior care and senior living, and new products are making the lives of seniors and caregivers simpler every day.

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Article by Angela Stringfellow

Extreme Cold, Ice and Snow Pose Danger for Seniors

By Wednesday of this week, forecasters are predicting that about half of the U.S., or 140 million people, will be enduring temperatures of zero degrees or lower. The Arctic chill that’s blanketing the U.S. is bringing temperatures colder than many areas have seen in years. For many of those 140 million people, it’s a matter of staying indoors and cranking up the heat. The snow might look pretty; but for seniors, there are a number of risks that could pose serious danger.

Primary heat sources often aren’t enough in sub-zero temperaturesSnow and ice risky for seniors

Not all seniors have the luxury of just turning up the heat, for example. Homes with electric heat pumps often have to use back-up heating sources in temperatures below 40 degrees, because it simply can’t keep up. Couple the sub-zero temps with freezing rain and sleet, and some of those heat pumps will freeze up and stop functioning altogether. What’s a senior to do when the primary–and only–heating source goes kaput when it’s below freezing outside? Older homes may not have adequate insulation or may have drafts around windows and doors that make it difficult for any heating source to keep up in such bitter cold conditions.

In areas just blanketed by blizzards, heavy snow can down power lines, rendering electric heating sources useless. There are many seniors living alone who may have back-up heating sources such as a coal-burning stove, but running it requires hauling heavy buckets of coal and operating the stove’s settings, while making sure you have a good carbon monoxide and smoke detector in the proper location–and functioning properly. Wood stoves are another common back-up in some areas, but again this requires either having a supply of wood that’s been cut for the purpose or going out and cutting down some trees.  Clearly, these just aren’t reasonable scenarios for many seniors.

Heating fuel is expensive

In other cases, seniors rely on oil heat–but it’s extremely expensive. And a week or two of unreasonably cold temperatures means you’re burning through that oil at a quicker pace. If the fuel oil runs out, and a senior has no financial resources to replenish it, what’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, these conditions often lead to seniors turning on the cooking oven and opening the door. Never a good idea, but it seems preferable to the alternative at the time. If the hot water heater runs on the primary heat source and it’s defunct, that means no hot water. Hot water heater aside, sub-zero temperatures without adequate heat lead to frozen pipes–a costly disaster no one wants to deal with.

Heading outdoors is dangerous for seniors in icy, freezing conditions

These bitter cold temperatures and icy conditions pose other risks to seniors, too. If a senior ventures outdoors, unaware of the icy conditions, a slip and fall is not an uncommon consequence. And seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may fail to dress appropriately before heading outdoors, even just to check the mail, and wind chills of -25 to -60 degrees can mean hypothermia or frost bite. If a senior lives in an unpopulated area and slips and falls on the way to the mailbox, it could spell disaster with no one around to help and no way to call for help.

Prepare your loved one for hazardous weather conditions

So if you have an aging loved one who lives at home alone, it’s time to make sure they’re prepared for the extreme cold and hazardous conditions impacting much of the U.S. this week. Make sure the home’s primary fuel source is replenished, and get a back-up plan in place for emergency outages. Go over safety practices, such as not using the kitchen stove as a source of heat. Portable kerosene heaters can also be dangerous, creating obstacles for navigating the home and quickly causing fires if they’re knocked over. These devices are particularly bad ideas if your loved one uses portable oxygen.

Get your loved one a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or an emergency communication device so she can get in touch with someone if she should slip and fall. Make sure the home has plenty of blankets and your loved one has an ample amount of weather-appropriate clothing, and check to make sure doors and windows close securely. Advise her not to venture outdoors for any reason, even to retrieve the mail.

Better yet, make sure your aging loved one isn’t alone over the next few days. Have her come and stay with you or send a family member to stay with her. If that’s not possible, there are other options, such as respite care. Senior living communities have plans in place for emergencies to cope with power outages that ensure the building is adequately heated and that medical equipment still has power.

These nasty weather conditions aren’t pleasant or necessarily safe for anyone, but seniors are especially prone to danger. Taking steps to make sure your aging loved ones stay safe and warm through the upcoming week could save their lives.

Image by sined via Stock.xchng

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Congratulations to Village Concepts Retirement Communities!

Village Concepts Retirement Communities - LogoSeniorHomes.com wants to congratulate Village Concepts Retirement Communities and the Brown Family for winning a Silver Award from Seattle Business Magazine’s “2013 Washington Family Business Awards.”

Since 1975, three generations of Brown family members have been building and operating senior homes throughout the Puget Sound and Central Washington regions. Village Concepts serves more than 1,100 elderly residents with personalized care and attention.

Find a Village Concepts Retirement Community near you!

It’s Time to Talk About Holiday Trends in Senior Living

Around this time of year, every year — and particularly right after the New Year — something happens: Senior living communities, and our amazing team of care advisors at SeniorHomes.com, start getting tons of phone calls from seniors and families starting the process of searching for senior housing options. senior living inquiries

There’s a reason this happens during and immediately after the holiday season. Today’s world isn’t restricted by geography. We’re interconnected with friends, loved ones and even total strangers located around the globe. We can Skype for face-to-face contact with grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and BFFs who live thousands of miles away. For this reason, there are more and more families who are spread out by thousands of miles, and many of these families gather together over the holidays.

When adult children visit their aging parents over the holidays, a harsh reality sometimes sets in. For the first time, you may realize that your parents really are getting older.

Sometimes, you observe some worrisome things like outdated prescriptions, forks in the refrigerator, a cluttered home that’s starting to show significant wear, overgrown lawns and other circumstances that make it clear dad’s not getting around as well as he used to. Maybe you see your mom holding onto the furniture for support as she navigates through the living room. Whatever the case, you’ve realized that it’s time to worry about your aging loved ones’ safety at home.

Typically, there’s a large spike in the number of senior living referrals right after Thanksgiving. Closer to Christmas, it winds down a bit as families are focused on preparing for the upcoming holiday — but after the New Year, things pick up and persist through the month of January as families settle in to a new year and start putting plans in place to make sure their aging loved ones are safe and adequately cared for.

Take a look at the following graph, which illustrates the ebb and flow of senior living inquiries SeniorHomes.com received during and after the 2011 holiday season.

Senior Living Inquiries 2011

The red lines in the graph above represent Thanksgiving and Christmas 2011, giving you a clear picture of the significant increase in inquiries that happens right after the Christmas holiday and continues throughout the month of January.

With the pressure on senior living providers to provide exceptional care, it can be a stressful time as providers work to ramp up staffing levels in order to meet the increased demand for services. Providers may need to allocate additional support staff to handle incoming phone calls, meet with families to discuss care options, and give tours of the facility.

But while the phone calls are increasing at this time of year, there aren’t a lot of move-ins happening. Most families opt to wait until after the holidays to make the official move.

With family members in ample supply during this time of year, it’s not necessary for many to make the move right away. Additionally, most seniors prefer to enjoy one more holiday season in the home they’ve known and loved for many years. That’s why many senior living communities offer incentives, hold open houses and other events and provide special year-end offers to encourage families to make their decision prior to the official close of the year. Check out our recent blog post for some ideas for marketing your community during the busy end-of-year season.

For families, the holidays are actually a good time to investigate your options. This is especially true if you’re traveling to visit an aging loved one — if time permits, adult children have the opportunity to visit potential senior living communities in person to get a better feel for whether it’s a good fit for mom or dad.

Being able to have face-to-face contact with your aging parent’s potential caregivers and taking an in-person tour of the community provides a little more peace of mind than relying on verbal communications, brochures and photos to make an informed decision. You can also take advantage of the year-end discounts and special offers, such as a free month’s rent, that senior living communities are offering.

But what if you’re in town for just a short visit and there’s no time to make personal contact with area senior living providers? Fortunately, the increasing popularity of the internet as a senior living research tool has led to more options for seniors and their families searching for senior living options.

SeniorHomes.com, for instance, has implemented a comprehensive rating system for senior living communities in many cities across the U.S. That means you can search for senior living options in your area and get information on state inspection results, read the opinions of local experts who have worked directly with these communities, and read reviews from residents, families and staff members. It’s an excellent resource for long-distance loved ones, as well as for those who live locally but aren’t sure where to begin the search.

Images by Franque and Mei Teng via Stock.xchng