Businesswoman working in office

 

In the complex landscape of federal taxes, it can be difficult to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the potential savings. If you’re over 65 and retired, there are a number of ways to save on your taxes that you might not be aware of.

 

1. Bigger standard deduction

In 2017, the standard deduction for people over 65 is $7,900. That’s $1,550 more than younger taxpayers. If you’re not itemizing your deductions yet, make sure to take advantage of them this year.

 

2. “Bunching” strategies for itemized deductions

If you don’t have enough deductions to itemize them, you might be able to move some expenses around to itemize some years and take a standard deduction during others. Greg Mangelsdorf, a CPA with Texas-based tax planning firm Atlas Tax Advisors, suggests that retirees who own their homes and have paid off their mortgage may want to try a “bunching” strategy with their property tax bills.

“A lot of times senior citizens have paid off their house,” so they don’t have a mortgage interest expense, typically one of their largest deductions on their taxes, Mangelsdorf said. This might leave them without the volume to itemize deductions.

But if your property tax bill is due in December or January, in a “bunching” year, you would pay one of them late, in January, and the next early, in December, so they’re both in the same year. That way, you can itemize deductions for that year, Mangelsdorf suggests.

 

3. Medical bills

If you’re itemizing your deductions, you can also deduct medical expenses that amount to more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. You can potentially use a bunching strategy here, too. On large recurring medical bills, find out if you can either pay them in advance or defer them so you make as many payments as possible during your bunching years.

 

4. Charitable Contributions

If you’re itemizing your deductions, of course you should be deducting any charitable contributions, whether that’s a large donation to your favorite charity or just giving your old stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. But you can also use the bunching strategy for charitable contributions, and one way to do that is by using a donor advised fund, Mangelsdorf says.

Donor-advised funds are run by established charities to manage charitable contributions. They hold money for unspecified charitable donations, then distribute it at the account holder’s request. The money deposited in the fund can’t be recovered, but it allows the account holder to deduct all of their charitable contributions at once, even if they’re not quite sure where the money is going yet. Mangelsdorf likens it to a “charitable checking account,” where you can dole out funds when you find causes you like.

“That really will turbo-charge your bunching strategy, especially if you don’t like the idea of regularly doling out your charitable contributions,” Mangelsdorf says.

 

5. Donate straight from your IRA

If you’re over 70 and have an individual retirement account, you’ll be required to withdraw a certain amount each year. If you don’t need the money and generally make a lot of charitable contributions, you may want to consider giving it directly to a charity. Otherwise, it will be recorded as ordinary income, and if you’re going to donate that much to charity anyway, you’re paying unnecessary taxes on income you eventually donated.

 

6. Use a Roth IRA

If your taxable income is below the 15 percent bracket ($37,650 for single people and $75,300 for joint filers) you might want to consider moving money from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, where it will continue to vest, but you won’t have to pay taxes on it again.

Mangelsdorf explains that a Roth IRA is a different kind of account where you pay taxes on the deposit but not when you withdraw it. A traditional IRA is taxed like ordinary income when you harvest it.

Many seniors have low incomes, living off of modest pensions and social security payments, so they might have room to take on more income before the exceed the threshold for a higher tax bracket. You can use that extra room to move funds into a Roth IRA, therefore keeping your tax rate low so you don’t have to withdraw it in another year, when you might make more money and pay a higher tax rate.


While everyone’s income situation is different, if you’re over 65, these strategies just might save you some money on your next income tax filing.

 

BathroomRugs

 

Slips and falls are a part of life—we humans aren’t perfect, after all. But did you know your bathroom is often the most dangerous room in your home when it comes to falls – especially for older adults? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Approximately 235,000 people over the age of 15 go to the emergency room for injuries and accidents that occur in their bathrooms.
  • Injuries increase with age, peaking after 85.
  • Younger people suffer injuries more commonly around the tub or shower, while older people suffer injuries more frequently around the toilet.
  • The most hazardous bathroom activity for all ages is bathing, with the most injuries taking place when getting out of the shower or tub.

Your fall prevention plan should begin with awareness of the common pitfalls and precautions that can help keep you and your aging loved ones injury-free for years to come. Your choices in bathroom flooring, rugs and rug pads can go a long way toward preventing the kind of slips and injuries that tend to occur in the bathroom. A well-equipped bathroom can also help you or a loved one age in place successfully.

Key Bathroom Precautions

Some inexpensive basics and easy-to-install accessories can go a long way toward keeping older adults safer in the bathroom. Grab bars, handles, shower seats and non-slip safety tape for the bathtub or shower floor are all quick and easy ways to keep the potential for injuries in your bathroom low. Other safety precautions to consider include:

  • Keeping the bathroom floor clutter-free
  • Installing bright lighting to keep the room well-lit
  • Making sure you have a nightlight or two for late-night bathroom visits

 

Bathroom2

 

 

The Right Rugs and Rug Pads

The best option for making your bathroom a safer space is choosing rugs and rug pads and placing them near the spots where slips and falls occur most often: the shower, tub and toilet. You may consider adding one in front of the sink as well. When shopping for bathroom rugs and pads, consider the following:

  • Size: Measure the space before you shop so you know how big of a rug your bathroom can accommodate.
  • Washable: Can you toss the mat in your washing machine, or will you have to get it professionally cleaned?
  • Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial rugs and pads are available in a variety of colors and designs, with the added protection of being microbe-resistant, giving you a healthier bathroom.
  • Materials: The way the rug feels under your feet is an important aspect to consider. From utilitarian to luxurious, there’s a bath mat for every preference and price point.

Bathroom Flooring Choices

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, consider some flooring choices that can help prevent slips. Small textured tiles, for example, are a great nonslip option for a bathroom floor that still looks fantastic.

 

Another beautiful and slip-safe choice is textured natural stone with river rock accents. Placing the river rock around the edge of the tub or shower can help create a nonslip zone when getting out of the bath, especially when coupled with matching bath rugs and pads. This can help you make your bathroom the safe, spa-like escape you want it to be.

As a mom of three, Kim Six knows how important it is to keep your bathroom safe in order to prevent injuries and writes her tips about it for The Home Depot. Visit The Home Depot’s website to find the bath mat options Kim highlights in this post.

 

One story manufactured house with gravel and driveway

 

If you’re an older adult looking for a new housing option, chances are you’ve heard of senior mobile home parks. These communities offer low-cost home ownership, amenities and the benefit of living among people your age.

But before you make a purchase, there are a number of pros and cons to consider. And even those in the mobile home industry note that this option isn’t for every senior.

The basics of senior mobile homes

When you live in a mobile home community, you typically own the manufactured home, but “rent the patch of dirt underneath it,” said Tim Sheahan, president of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association.

These homes usually cost less than a traditional house, but are comparable in size, ranging anywhere from 400 square feet to 1,600 square feet. Rental costs for the land can run from $300 a month to up to $2,000 in pricier areas like California, where Sheahan lives. This is still lower than the cost of assisted living, which runs anywhere from $2,500 to nearly $7,000 on average (although typically assisted living community fees include meals, housekeeping and numerous amenities and social activities).

You may be able to find a few mobile home communities that are meant for people ages 62 and older, but most cater to those over 55. This is the biggest draw for many who chose to live in these communities, said Sage Singleton, a senior living specialist with Medicare Health Plans, a Medicare plan review website that assists seniors searching for Medicare insurance options.

“Seniors prefer the peace, solitude and familiarity of living near people in their same age range,” he said. “Everyone is at the same stage of life, going through similar perks and struggles … it’s a great way to meet new friends in a comfortable and safe environment.”

Many of these communities are gated and even those that aren’t have a greater sense of security, safety and privacy, Sheahan said.

They’re not actually mobile

Mobile homes (also known as manufactured homes if built after 1976) are called that because they are built in one place and moved to another. You shouldn’t plan for these homes to be replaced once you’re settled in a community, Sheahan said.

“There are very few places to relocate to,” he said. “Most don’t allow older homes to be moved on-site and they are building almost no new communities in most parts of the country.”

Dollars and cents

Sheahan said the major concern with senior mobile home parks in recent years is that ownership has moved from “mom and pop” management to corporate groups. And for most of the corporate owners, the main goal is to maximize profits.

In an apartment or even an assisted living facility, the goal of the operators is to keep the customers happy so they will stay there and earn money. But at a mobile home community, the customer is essentially captive once they have moved in. Some companies take advantage of this, Sheahan said.

“They can raise the rent, which raises their income and property values,” he said. “If it gets high enough, they can economically evict homeowners from their own homes.”

Some ways to avoid having rents raised too high over time are to live in a community owned by a nonprofit group or where the homeowner owns the land (though the latter is uncommon). It’s also a good idea to have an attorney look over any lease before signing.

“Seniors are generally too trusting of what property managers have told them,” about the lease and its conditions, Sheahan said.

For the travelers

If you are a “snowbird” — someone who moves from colder climates to warmer ones in the winter — a mobile home community can be a perfect option for either your first or second home. The ownership costs are relatively low and most community managers take care of yard and maintenance work.

“You are not leaving your home unattended to grow unruly during long travels,” Singleton noted.

Amenities of senior mobile homes

Another benefit of senior mobile home communities are the amenities. The communities are often located in choice spaces – near lakes, rivers or golf courses – providing convenient opportunities for outdoor activities.

Aside from location, many senior mobile home communities have amenities such as communal spaces, pools, exercise facilities, spas or shuffleboard courts. Because seniors may not want, or be able to travel, some communities host events and gatherings like bingo, potluck meals, dances and social clubs to bring the entertainment to residents.

Medical necessity

One drawback of these communities is their lack of on-site healthcare services, said Steve Carr, chief sales officer at Centers Health Care, which offers a range of post-acute care services in the Northeastern United States.

People often look to downsize at a time in their life when they need increasingly frequent medical care. When you are thinking of costs, remember to add in potential medical costs to the mortgage, utilities, land rent and upkeep. Your calculations may show that it’s just as reasonable to consider a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), where skilled nursing care is offered, or an assisted living community that has a nurse on call if not on staff and helps arrange transportation to doctor’s appointments.

“For people with major healthcare issues, it is hard to get the help needed in any type of residential setting,” Carr said. “That care is almost irreplaceable when it comes to having social and medical needs managed.”

Do your due diligence

If you’re considering moving into a manufactured home, a good place to start is to talk with senior advocacy services in your state, county or city. These organizations should have extensive networks in your area and will know the bad actors in your community, Sheahan said.

You can also talk to the homeowners’ association (HOA) in the community you are considering to find out more detailed information. Questions to ask include:

  • How much have rents increased in recent years?
  • What are the terms on the lease?
  • How well are the properties maintained?
  • If the land is bought and you have to move, will you be compensated in any way for the dislocation?

Finally, Sheahan recommends talking to staff from the housing department of the city where the mobile home community is located. They can tell you if there are rent stabilization ordinances that keep owners from hiking up the rent. City staff can also tell you if a community is protected by zoning laws that discourage developers from buying the land for commercial use.

Though there are a lot of potential pitfalls to moving into a senior mobile home park, Sheahan said moving to one can be a solid option for many seniors.

“They are a great way to live out the twilight years of their lives with a strong social network and tight-nit communities,” he said. “They can enable them to live in those homes longer than they would otherwise … and they have an added safety net they might not have in a traditional home.”

 

Relaxing exercise

Limited mobility as you age can make it difficult to enjoy social situations with family and friends or even remain in your own home. But Mary Derbyshire, author of the new book “Agility at Any Age,” says “mindful moving” can help you turn back the clock to move with more agility and ease…and perhaps most importantly, with less pain.

Using the Alexander Technique, a method that teaches participants to identify and stop harmful habits that increase stress and pressure in the body and ultimately limit mobility, Derbyshire has been working with active adults and baby boomers for 20 years, providing instruction for more mobility and better quality of life.

“As we age, we’re told of the importance to move, but no one mentions the significance of paying attention to how we move,” she explains. “A few ergonomic adjustments, along with a slight change of mindset, can make simple movements like sitting, getting out of a chair or walking much easier and more enjoyable.”

Derbyshire, who teaches the Alexander Technique, sat down with us to share her insights on how to move better—and more often—starting today.

What movements tend to be the toughest to engage in as we age?

Everyday [movements] like sitting or getting in and out of a chair are some of the most common moves that can be difficult to tackle. Walking is also tough. I’m not referring to power walking or walking for long distances, but walking around the house or a grocery store can be tough. And without the ability to sit and/or walk comfortably, a person can quickly find themselves losing their independence due to immobility.

Are there modifications to make sitting more comfortable and easy?

Absolutely! Many of us aren’t sitting correctly. You need to sit on your “sit bones” which will promote sitting up straight and ultimately more comfortably.

How can a person tell if they’re sitting on their “sit bones”?

You can locate them by sitting in a chair and sliding hands under your butt cheeks, palms up. Press lightly to feel the boney bits under each cheek, which are the sit bones. You have to sit with your weight on those to sit comfortably. However, most of the time we sit further back, toward the sacrum.

We also tend to sit on furniture that’s too soft or that’s designed for fashion but not function. Chairs tend to slope back so you have to haul yourself forward when you want to stand up. To combat that, I recommend a sitting wedge, which can be found online or some drugstores, that’s firm and higher in the back than the front. That promotes you sitting on your sit bones and ultimately makes sitting and getting out of chair easier.

Once a person is out of their chair, what changes can they implement to make walking easier?

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to give you a broad and steady base. And stand so you’re putting weight on the balls of your feet as well as your heels. Too often, we stand with our weight centered on our heels, which can contribute to fatigue and pain. If you have to stand for long periods of time, or [if] standing is difficult even for a few minutes, you can shift your weight over the arch of your foot from the ball to the heel to reduce fatigue and increase comfort.

It’s also important to walk through your big toe to improve balance and further reduce fatigue.

Many walk with their toes sticking up in the air, which doesn’t engage the big toe. And if you don’t engage that toe, taking your weight all the way through it, you’re not taking a complete stride.

Is there a way to know if you’re not walking through your big toe?

If you have a hole in your socks at the toes or a wear spot on your slippers, you’re not walking all the way through your big toe. It’s important to remember your big toe has two important jobs: it helps with balance and propels you forward. And along with increasing the risk of falling, not walking through your entire foot means you’re not being propelled forward and you’re belaboring walking.

Are there other ways to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls?

Everyone over the age of 45 should work on maintaining or improving their balance by challenging it. One way to do that is by standing on one foot. For safety, you should do that when you’re near something steady and anchored to grab onto if necessary, like a kitchen counter or table.

You also want to maintain flexibility in your ankles, which greatly impacts balance. If your ankles are stiff, you’re less able to maintain your balance. Work on that by tapping your toes while sitting watching television or eating dinner. You can also gently flex the foot to the left and right.

By incorporating these small changes, you’ll be better able to sit and get out of a chair, which means you’re more likely to stand and then walk. And that improved and increased movement will bleed over into every aspect of your life from grocery shopping, attending religious services or watching your grandchild’s dance recital.

 

Woman playing Sudoku on tablet computer

 

If you or a loved one suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or know someone who does, you understand the frustrations that come with it. The condition can cause problems in memory, language, thinking, and judgment – even while you’re still able to perform everyday activities.

MCI also is considered an intermediate stage between the normal cognitive decline of aging and dementia, of which the most common type is Alzheimer’s disease. And having MCI may also increase your risk of developing dementia later in life.

But a recent study has delivered good news when it comes to cognitive decline. The study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic showed that older U.S. adults were less likely to develop MCI if they engaged in mentally stimulating activities once or twice a week.

Those who engaged in mental stimulation, the researchers noted, may be protecting themselves from “new-onset MCI.”

Certain Activities Linked to Lower MCI Risk

Research has already shown that mental stimulation is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia. But there had been few studies about the possible connection between mental stimulation and MCI until the Mayo Clinic undertook its research that began in 2006 and lasted just over a decade.

Researchers defined mentally stimulating activities to include computer use, reading books, craft activities, playing games and social activities such as going to movies and the theater.

Results showed that computer use was associated with a 30 percent decreased risk of new-onset MCI, a 28 percent decreased risk with craft activities, 23 percent with social activities, and 22 percent with gameplay.

The Mayo Clinic researchers were unsure why certain activities produced a lower risk of developing MCI than other types of mental stimulation tested. However, their findings suggested that the specific technical and manual skills required for an activity such as computer use may be linked with the decreased risk.

The study also showed that mental stimulation may also lower the risk of MCI in people who carry the gene APOE e4, which is linked to Alzheimer’s.

What is MCI?

As mentioned, people with MCI experience noticeable declines in memory and thinking skills but not enough to greatly interfere with their everyday activities. Some people with MCI never get worse.

What causes MCI? The fact is, there’s no single cause for it. Evidence suggests that the condition develops from similar changes in the brain as those seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Other changes associated with MCI include shrinkage of the hippocampus – the region of the brain important to memory – enlargement of the brain’s ventricles, and a lower use of glucose.

MCI Symptoms

If you experience any or all of the following symptoms, you may have cognitive issues that indicate MCI. A medical professional can help evaluate your symptoms.

  • More forgetful than usual (i.e., forgetting a person’s name)
  • Forgetting important appointments and social engagements
  • You lose your train of thought or the thread of a conversation
  • Increased feelings of being overwhelmed by making decisions, planning the steps to complete a task or interpreting instructions
  • You have trouble finding your way around in familiar environments
  • You show poor judgment or become increasingly impulsive

People with MCI may also exhibit signs of depression, irritability and aggression, anxiety, and apathy

Risk Factors for MCI

There are certain risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing MCI, including age, but also:

  • Having a form of the gene APOE-e4, which is also linked to Alzheimer’s
  • Medical conditions and lifestyle factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, a lack of physical exercise, and little or no participation in mentally and socially stimulating activities.

—-

The Mayo Clinic study clearly indicated that there is a connection between mentally stimulating activities and a decreased risk of MCI, including a decreased risk of people who carry the APOE e4 gene.

 

 

Modern bathroom walk-in shower with steam modern system.

 

Bathrooms require special attention in order to meet the living needs of elderly adults who want to age in place. Everyday routines like bathing, washing up and brushing teeth can be challenging for some older adults in a standard bathroom.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to make bathroom faucets more user-friendly for seniors with mobility issues. The design tips shown here should be part of an overall design philosophy for aging in place bathrooms that include appropriately placed grab bars, nonslip flooring and adequate lighting.

1. Handheld Showerheads

Replace a wall-mounted showerhead with a handheld model. A handheld showerhead attached to a pole allows elderly users to adjust the showerhead’s height when standing or to use it as a handheld model when sitting or standing. Here are some other user-friendly changes that can help older adults:

 

  • Combine the showerhead with built-in or portable shower chairs to make bathing more comfortable.
  • Bathtubs and walk-in showers should have non-slip finishes on the floors, and there should be grab bars on the walls in and around the tub or shower to provide stability.

 

2. Lever Controls

Lever-shaped faucet handles in the tub, shower and at the vanity sink are easier to use than smaller, round knobs. Controls shaped like a cross are another easy-to-grip option. No matter which style you choose, the following guidelines can help:

 

  • Shower and bath controls should be large and easy to operate.
  • Hot and cold taps should be labeled with large text and/or bright colors so that someone with weak eyesight can easily distinguish between the two.
  • To reduce the senior’s need to bend or stretch, place controls for tubs and showers as close to the room side of the fixture as possible.

 

3. Easy-to-Reach Vanity Faucets

Older adults who are mobile can use a standard floor-mounted vanity, but it’s helpful if the sink is on the narrow side so the senior does not have to bend over to reach the faucet controls. For someone who uses a wheelchair, a wall-mounted sink or a vanity that provides adequate room for the chair is necessary. Shallow, narrow sinks are best for someone in a wheelchair. Here are some other vanity guidelines to keep in mind:

 

  • Under-vanity storage is often inaccessible for a person with limited mobility. In those cases, consider wall-mounted cabinets or shelves instead.
  • Avoid sharp edges on vanity countertops.
  • A contrasting band of color around the edge of the countertop helps seniors with weak eyesight identify the edge of the fixture.

 

4. Walk-in Tubs and Showers

The standard bathtub/shower combination found in most homes is a real challenge to use comfortably for someone with even minor mobility issues. If possible, the standard tub should be replaced with one equipped with a side door to allow for easy access. Some of these models also include built-in seating.

Another option is to replace the tub with a roll-in shower. Since these showers don’t have a threshold, a person can roll their wheelchair into the shower and transfer to a shower chair. Both options are a major expense, and adding a roll-in shower will require using up a lot of floor space in the bathroom.

However, the less cost-intensive addition of grab bars and nonslip surfaces can also make standard tubs and showers more user-friendly for seniors. Here are some other suggestions:

 

  • Eliminate the need to reach or get in and out of the tub or shower by placing built-in or wall-mounted shelves or niches for bath supplies in the shower or tub enclosure.
  • Install lighting fixtures in the ceiling above tubs and showers. Use fixtures rated for wet locations.
  • Place a vertical grab bar near the entrance to the tub or shower to make entering and exiting easier.

 

5. Scald Protection

Tub and shower controls should be equipped with scald protection technology. Elderly adults are more susceptible to burns from too-hot water. And sudden changes in a building’s water pressure, such as when a toilet flushes while someone is in the shower, can lead to burns. These steps can help keep the water temperature safe:

 

  • The thermostats on many water heaters are set too high, so check the unit and lower the temperature. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 Celsius). The water will cool somewhat as it moves the water heater to the faucet, where it will be mixed with cold water. This step can reduce serious burns, but it will not eliminate them on its own.
  • Faucets equipped with a thermostatic water mixer monitor the water’s temperature. When the monitor senses a change in temperature due to fluctuating water pressure, the mixer compensates so that the temperature stays about the same.

 

Taking some basic precautions when designing or remodeling a bathroom for elderly adults will give them the ability and confidence to live more comfortably and independently.

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Fran Donegan is a DIY-for-the-home authority, currently writing for The Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY author, and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. Fran’s tips are geared to provide you with numerous options for bathroom remodeling, bath safety and organization. To research a variety of bathroom vanities, you can visit the Home Depot website here.

 

senior couple on city street

 

You’re never too old for dating, love, or romance. Whether you’re taking your spouse out on the town or trying to find someone special, there’s always room for dating. Those who are dating over 60 and looking for new date ideas should—like anyone—look to have fun first, and let the rest follow. A pleasant experience shared makes for a far better memory. Here are nine date ideas for senior couples to consider:

1) Try a new food

If there’s a foreign cuisine neither of you has ever tried, what are you waiting for? It’s time to experiment. Nothing makes your time richer than new experiences, so why not share them with a date? Whether your new experience is fine dining at a high-priced restaurant or food from that street cart you drive past each day but have never tried, it can add up to a great memory.

2) Take a class

You’re never too old to learn something new, whether it’s a useful skill or a more indulgent hobby. Take a class on pottery, dancing, cooking, anything that seems interesting. It may lead to a new way to spend time together— and at the very least, it’s going to be memorable.

3) Go picnicking

If you’re hoping to plan a date that’s low-key and intimate without much cost or pressure, try a picnic. It’s a great excuse to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Make it a bit more fun by finding a park or other outdoor area neither of you have been to before. Sitting out on a blanket under the sun isn’t just for the young, with good weather and good company,, it can be just as enjoyable for older couples.

4) Go to a wine or cheese tasting

Sitting down for a full meal is nice and all, but outside of a few new experiences it’s old hat. A tasting event, be it for wine, cheese, or something a bit more ‘out there’, is a great way to have some fun, enjoy something new, and make a memory you and your date will remember fondly. Taste and scent are closely tied to memory, after all, and where else can you focus more on those senses than at a tasting event?

5) Recreate an old favorite

As a senior, you have the invaluable benefit of experience—use it! Recreate your favorite dates anew. Whether you aim for perfect replication or try to update things and add a new twist, either one is going to be fun. This works best for current senior couples, of course, but there’s nothing stopping you from borrowing inspiration from favorite past dates with a new date, either.

6) Find friends for a double date.

Whether you’ve been together for decades or are a new couple, a double date is a great idea. It can be daunting to go out on a date at any age—especially if you’re out of practice. Making your date a double can make things a bit less stressful, add a fun new dimension to things and allow you to get to know your friends better while also bonding with your partner.

7) Visit an interesting marketplace.

Whether it’s a tiny flea market, the county fair or a massive mall full of artisanal shops, there’s lots of potential for great dates when you go wandering through an interesting marketplace. The point isn’t necessarily to shop—it’s to spend time together seeing novel and interesting things. And if you walk away with a few trinkets, it’s all the better to remember your date by.

8) Explore familiar places in depth.

Your town has sides of it you probably haven’t seen, whether that means a new restaurant or event, or a long-standing corner you’ve never visited. Visit your local museum, take the tour meant for visitors, or consider volunteering together at a local charity. Rediscovering your own backyard can be as exciting for dates as journeying to a foreign land—there’s always more depth than you realize in a place. You may even find a new way to spend your time around town, or learn something interesting about the place you live that you’d never otherwise have known.

9) Go to an amusement park or live event.

Don’t write off the more exciting stuff as being for the young—couples of any age can have fun on a date at the amusement park or live event. Cheering at a concert or laughing at a standup comedian doesn’t have an age limit. So get out there and have some fun, share some funnel cake and enjoy a date that just might make you both feel like kids again.

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Ultimately, all dates are about building a shared experience. Make sure it’s an experience you’ll both enjoy, and remember fondly, and everything else will work out from there. Try new things, revisit old ones, or blend the two. It’s all a matter of finding the things you can enjoy together—no matter how long you’ve been together, or what the date on your driver’s license says.

 

Valentines day greeting card

 

Valentine’s Day can present a gift-giving conundrum for couples of any age, and for those who’ve been together for many years or decades, it can be even tougher. Perhaps you’ve been together so long that you feel you’re out of ideas, or maybe your partner insists they don’t want or need anything.

Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Nancy Irwin notes that a lot of older couples already have enough “stuff” and are attempting to downsize and de-clutter. “To that end, experiences are much more valuable than more stuff,” she says.

And for those whose partners would prefer a more tangible gift to hold onto, there are options that are more meaningful than the age-old flowers and candy combination. We’ve compiled the following guide to help point you in the right direction.

 

1. A picture is worth 1,000 valentines

 

Senior African couple looking at photo album

 

If you and your valentine are like a lot of older couples, you have a stack of photographs documenting your love story. Some of your favorite pictures together can make for a simple yet meaningful gift that your sweetheart is sure to appreciate.

You can get as creative as you want with your photographic memories – consider creating a scrapbook with love notes, ticket stubs and other mementos alongside photos of you and your partner. Or use digital photos to create a calendar filled with memories via an easy-to-use online service like Shutterfly or VistaPrint. Or for those looking for an even simpler last-minute gift, frame a favorite photo of you and your love – bonus points if it’s one you haven’t seen in a while.

 

2. A gift that’s just the ticket(s)

 

Audience silhouette and curtain

 

Maybe you’d rather focus this Valentine’s Day on creating new memories rather than reminiscing over past ones. Irwin suggests tickets to a concert, or to the theater, opera or ballet, among other activities. Plenty of websites, like Ticketmaster, CheapTickets.com or Vivid Seats are a good bet for tickets to entertainment near you.

For more affordable options, check out what your city or local college have to offer in the way of entertainment, and make sure to ask about senior rates or discounts. You might just find tickets for a date unlike any you and your long-term valentine has experienced.

 

3. Date night in a box

 

i have received my postal packet

 

Don’t feel like going out to celebrate Valentine’s Day? You and your sweetie can enjoy a night in with the help of a date subscription box. Subscription services like Crated with Love and Unbox deliver themed boxes full of ingredients for a successful date night, like  “Tea for Two” from Crated with Love. Each box includes date activities, games or projects designed to spark laughter and bring you and your partner closer.

If you want to stay in for the date night  but don’t feel like cooking, food delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub and Seamless can bring meals from your favorite eateries to your door.

 

4. Entertainment blasts from the past

 

Player record and vinyl vintage

 

Bring back memories from the days when you and your valentine first got together with the gift of a movie or album from that time period. Recall that movie you two went to on one of your first dates, or that song that reminds you of your wedding or your first date? With the help of sites like Amazon and eBay, hard-to-find  films and records can be yours in a few clicks.

Whether your love story goes back several decades or just a few years, you can also visit an online music store like iTunes to create your own CD mix featuring tunes from your early days as a couple.

 

5. A monogrammed token of affection

 

His And Hers Wedding Cups

 

Monogrammed items are easy yet personal Valentine’s Day gifts. These days, just about anything can be monogrammed via online shops such as Etsy. Think coziness and pampering when considering what to monogram, like fluffy robes and slippers, or a super-soft pair of pajamas. Or, you might opt to put a personal stamp on items that the two of you can share for years to come, like wine glasses or luggage.

 

6. The gift of relaxation

 

Spa - Couple Towels With Candles And Orchid

 

The older you get, the more you could probably use a little TLC. Help your loved one soothe aches and pains and relieve stress with a spa treatment. That could mean a gift certificate to a local spa, or a gift that brings the spa experience to you. One such service is Soothe, which works only with fully background-checked, licensed massage therapists and offers both individual and couples massages.

Or create a DIY spa day for you and your sweetie with relaxation-boosting products like aromatherapy kits and manual massage tools.

 

SocialSenior

 

As my mom puts it, she “has bad luck with technology.” She may live in Silicon Valley and be married to a software programmer, but Mom has always struggled with anything tech-related.

Mom uses a computer from the early 2000s. She needs help to send emails and format documents. Every time I visit, she has something for me to fix. A year ago, Mom got her first smartphone.

And now? You can’t separate Mom from her phone. She messages her friends more often than I do. She’s now a pro at all things social media.

Social media has completely changed the way Mom keeps in touch with her friends. I’ve witnessed firsthand how big of a change it’s made in her life. And she’s not alone—seniors across the globe are more connected than ever. Here’s why you should encourage your aging loved ones to get into social media.

Reconnecting with old friends

One of the first things Mom did was to look up her friends from high school. She had moved from New Jersey to California and fell out of touch with them decades ago. The day she found them on Facebook, I don’t think I’d ever seen her so excited.

Mom reconnected with her best friend, learned that her high school reunion was coming up and spent hours learning what her friends had been up to over the years. She has reconnected with her hometown in a way she never thought possible.

Keeping in touch with family

My mother loves her sister, but their schedules don’t allow for regular phone calls. Luckily, messaging apps have come to the rescue. Between sharing pictures of their meals, political cartoons and daily cat memes, Mom and her sister are closer than ever. They can share their lives without having to sync their schedules.

Learning about local events

Food trucks in town? A sale at the local antique store? With event notifications coming directly to her phone, Mom knows about everything that’s going on. In fact, she knows more about local happenings than I do!

Mom used to always learn about events a day or two too late. With her phone’s calendar, she no longer worries about what she’s missing. She’s up-to-date on what’s going on now through next month.

Staying on top of neighborhood news

Mom is a member of our local Nextdoor group. She and the neighbors share warnings about rowdy kids, notices about construction, sightings of potential thieves and anything else of interest to the neighborhood. Mom loves to share the crazy stories she finds in the app and always forwards the useful tidbits about traffic or construction. Her neighborhood group has enhanced her connection with her community.

Organizing fun with friends

Mom used to see her church friends just once a week, but not anymore! Thanks to social media, Mom and her friends are constantly going out to dinner or traveling to interesting places together.

I’ve watched my mother’s network of friends expand and deepen like never before. If Mom is ever lonely, she is just a message away from good pals and laughs.

Keeping entertained

Bringing Mom on a long car trip? Chances are, she will be “liking” photos and playing videos on her smartphone. I’ve noticed that my mother no longer complains of being bored—there is too much for her to do online. Social media is perfect for filling the gaps in her day.

Learning about the issues

Mom is big into politics, and social media helps her follow her favorite politicians, social commentators and authors. She keeps up on the issues and learns about current events as they happen rather than waiting for the nightly news recap.

Finding work

For many seniors, retirement can be boring. Sixty-five may be the official retirement age, but that doesn’t mean everyone 65 and over automatically wants to stop working. The Internet can help connect older adults with opportunities that canbe tough to find otherwise.

For the best health and quality of life, seniors need to keep their brains and bodies active. Working (or volunteering) allows seniors to share their knowledge, make some extra income and give back to their community.

After some online searching, Mom joined our town’s education committee to influence how the coming generation is taught. She loves being a voice for change.

Staying active with social media

Before social media, my mother spent most of her time reading at home. She would go out to church once a week, and that was pretty much it.

Now, with her smartphone in hand, Mom is always doing something interesting. I’ll come back home to visit and she won’t be there—Dad will tell me she’s off at one of her meetings.

Mom is making a real difference in her community. She’s involved in her town’s school board, joined a board of directors and is part of the leadership community at her church. Her smartphone and social media helped make that possible.

—-

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.

 

 

Driving in snowy weather. View from the driver angle

 

There are many things to love about winter, whether it’s outdoor activities or the natural beauty of a snow-covered vista, but driving in the winter can be far from lovable.

In many areas of the country, winter weather can change in a heartbeat as roads and highways go from dry and safe to icy and treacherous. It can be challenging for even the most skillful driver, and even more so if you’re an older adult whose driving skills have inevitably changed with age.

But driving – in any kind of weather – is a necessity for older adults who rely on their vehicles to remain independent and able to function in everyday life. The luxury of staying home when the weather turns bad isn’t always an option for some seniors.

Here are some driving safety tips to keep you and your older loved ones out of harm’s way on the roads this winter.

1. Make sure your vehicle is in good shape

The condition your car is in can have a major effect on your driving experience, especially in the winter when you’ll be calling on your wipers, defroster, breaks, heater, and headlights to meet the challenges of bad weather. Some other points to remember for driving safety: cold air makes your tires contract and lose air and colder temperatures can cause your battery to lose its charge, while your engine may benefit in winter from oil that has thinner viscosity.

2. Always have emergency supplies

If you get stuck or your car breaks down in cold weather, it’s important to have emergency supplies available such as blankets and bottled water. Road flares and non-perishable snacks should also be included as part of your driving safety plan.

3. Plan ahead

It’s best to avoid rush-hour traffic whenever possible, but you’ll also want to stay on main roads if you can. Backroads and other shortcuts may pose difficult driving conditions because those routes are often the last to be plowed or maintained. Pre-plan your travel route and get the latest information on traffic and road conditions to ensure your driving safety.

4. Accelerate and decelerate slowly

Accelerating slowly is the best strategy for regaining traction and avoiding skids on slippery roads. It’s also best to give yourself plenty of time to slow down for stoplights and stop signs. You should always stop gently to avoid skidding and ease off of the brakes if your wheels start to lock up.

5. Watch your speed

Everything takes longer when roads are covered in snow or ice, making it crucial to drive slower than you normally would. Whether it’s accelerating, turning or stopping, it doesn’t happen as smoothly and as quickly as it does on dry pavement. It’s also important to proceed down hills as slowly as possible in icy conditions.

6. Keep a safe distance

You should keep the recommended three to four seconds between you and the car ahead in normal, dry conditions. But with wintry road conditions, the American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends increasing that distance to eight to 10 seconds away.

7. Know your surroundings

Bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas often freeze first and remain icy longer than normal roadways. Also, a road that’s completely snow-covered provides more traction than one that is in the process of melting.

8. Keep your cell phone with you

Never leave home without your cell phone. If you don’t have a phone, make sure to let a loved one know where you’re going, when you expect to arrive there, and when you plan on returning home. Check in with them again once you’re safely home.

9. Monitor your health

It’s never a good idea to drive while you’re fatigued or you’re not feeling well, especially when conditions are less than ideal. Make sure to have your eyes regularly checked so that you can correct any vision problems you may have that may be affecting your driving.

Driving may be one of the only transportation options for many people, despite winter hazards. Luckily, there are a number of precautions you can take to help you stay safe while driving in the snow and ice.