8 Steps to a Healthier Heart

Monday, February 12th, 2018 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

Healthy heart diet and sport gym equipment concept on blackboard

As an older adult, you know just how important it is to stay healthy as a way to lower the risk of illness. This is especially true when it comes to heart health. Cardiovascular issues are extremely common. In fact, one in every three deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. That means cardiovascular issues cause more deaths than all types of cancer combined. While there isn't a way to completely prevent heart disease, there are a number of things you can do to drastically reduce your risk factors.

Making smart lifestyle choices can help you keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

“Most people know what it takes for a healthy heart, but they are often filled with excuses of why they don’t take steps to make it happen,” says Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “Taking care of our heart health should be a top priority for everyone.”

Understanding the most common risk factors for heart disease can enable you to take action to make healthier choices. What follows are eight key ways to improve your heart health.

1. See a Doctor Regularly

One of the most effective ways to reduce your risk for heart disease is to attend regular physical checkups with your doctor. As you get older, these appointments should include tests for cholesterol, blood pressure and other potential risk factors.

Diabetes can also increase the risk of heart disease, and statistics show that about one-third of American adults are pre-diabetic. Regular medical care can help manage diabetes, reducing the possibility of heart disease.

2. Get regular exercise

While eating a nutritious diet can help you avoid obesity and the associated cardiovascular risks, it's also important to make sure that you’re getting regular exercise. Physical activity can improve your heart health, lower your resting heart rate, and help you maintain a healthy weight.

For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least a half hour of moderate aerobic exercise five days a week, or a half hour of vigorous cardio activity three days a week. This aerobic activity should be combined with muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.

3. Manage stress

While there’s not a clear, direct link between stress and heart disease, research has shown that stress can affect a number of behaviors and elements that raise your risk, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and smoking, according to the American Heart Association.

Luckily, using stress reduction techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi or meditation can help calm you and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that raises the risk of heart attack, says Walls.

4. Ditch tobacco

Smoking tobacco is one of the most prevalent risk factors for heart disease. There are numerous studies linking tobacco smoke (including secondhand smoke) with cardiovascular disease and cancer. If you’re a smoker, one of the best things you can do for your heart health is to quit right away. Many have found success using aids such as nicotine gum or patches.

5. Eat healthfully

Your diet contributes heavily to your overall health and your risk of heart disease. Choosing healthy foods and consuming the right amount of calories daily can help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart in good condition. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Some plant-based substances can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Additionally, filling up on produce can help you avoid eating too many high-fat foods.

Choosing whole grains over refined options is also important. Whole grains provide fiber and other nutrients, and they can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. Cutting back on sugar and unhealthy fats in your diet can also help strengthen your heart and lower your risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, and other health issues.

6. Don't Neglect Your Oral Health

“There is a strong link between gum disease and heart disease,” says Dr. Harold Katz, founder of oral care company Therabreath. “Periodontal disease is a form of inflammation (albeit in the mouth). The first step in this inflammation is known as gingivitis and the most obvious sign is bleeding gums (pink in the sink).”

These open wounds in the mouth allow toxins to enter and travel to other parts of the body, including the heart valves, Katz explains.

If you have sensitive, bleeding, or inflamed gums, it's wise to seek treatment from a dentist. Lowering the risk of periodontal infection can improve your overall health and potentially reduce your risk of heart problems.

7. Understand your genetic history

Many cardiovascular risk factors have to do with genetics. People whose parents have had heart attacks or strokes usually have a higher risk of these issues. Additionally, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also be affected by genetic factors.

While you can't do anything to change your family's medical history, understanding it can help you make the best decisions for your own health. If you have family members with heart disease, make sure to discuss this with your doctor. He or she may make different recommendations for heart-healthy lifestyle choices and the frequency of cholesterol, blood pressure, and cardiovascular tests.

8. Watch for signs and symptoms

While you may be familiar with the common symptoms of a heart attack, there are other signs that can indicate possible cardiovascular disease. Shortness of breath, sleep apnea, heartburn, chest or shoulder aches can all be potential indicators of heart problems.

Fatigue is another possible symptom, and it’s particularly common for women who have heart problems. You should discuss symptoms like these with your doctor, especially if they appear suddenly or increase in frequency.

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Heart disease is, unfortunately, a common issue for adults. However, there are several things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular issues. Maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising, seeing a doctor and dentist regularly, and avoiding tobacco can improve your overall health and reduce your chances of heart disease.

2018 Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Older Adults

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 by Tammy Worth

Gift box with pink bow ribbon and glitter hearts on wooden rustic background

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking for a way to show your appreciation for an older special someone, parent or friend this holiday, there are plenty of gift options out there. We’ve compiled a Valentine’s Day gift guide with everything from small trinkets to exciting adventures for your senior loved ones.

Under $25

 

Pretty little things

VDay_SmallTrinkets

Valentine’s Day is a good time for gestures both small and large. If you prefer to show your love with a sweet, simple yet meaningful gift, there are a wide variety of options on sites like Natural Life. Their wide selection of charming, bohemian-inspired trinkets include small glass trays, bracelets, mugs, keychains, bandeaus, prayer boxes and small succulents.

Cost: $3 and up

To order: Natural Life

 

Scoops of sweetness

If ice cream is your loved one’s weakness, then they might enjoy a gift from Nebraska-based Ecreamery. The shop’s 16 flavors of ice cream, sorbet and gelato are available to order online and include Valentine-themed pints with flavors such as red velvet cheesecake and amaretto cherry with almonds and chocolate chunks.

Cost: Starts at $7.99

To order: ecreamery

 

A get-well box

HospitalBox

If someone you love is hospitalized or at home recovering from an illness, this is a great time to let them know you’re thinking of them. One way you can do that is by sending a care package like the “Feel Better Box” available at thehospitalbox.com. The care package comes with stickers for decorating and three bags labeled for opening whenever your loved one needs a hug. There’s also space in the box to add personal touches like photos, books or their favorite treats.

Cost: $19.99

To order: The Feel Better Box

$25-$50

 

A cookbook for two

Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

 

Most cookbooks offer recipes for a family, and are meant to serve four or more. But many people in their 50s and beyond either live alone or with just one other person. If they enjoy cooking but aren’t keen on leftovers, consider gifting them a cookbook that caters to smaller households.

"The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook" from America’s Test Kitchen provides cooking tips and foolproof recipes of all kinds including soups and desserts made for two.

Cost:$25.47

To order: Amazon.com

 

 

Handwritten memories

adorable girl writing greeting card

There are lots of ways to memorialize time spent with loved ones, and hand-written notes are always appreciated. The company greetingStory offers a box full of cards labeled with questions like, “What do you admire about your grandparents?” and “What are your favorite activities to do with your grandparents?” Kids can fill the cards out to capture these memories in their own writing. Boxes come with packs of 12, 24 or 48 cards.

Cost: starts at $29

To order: greetingStory

 

Under $25

A comfy medical gown alternative

Courtesy of GetJanes

If your aging loved one spends a lot of time in the hospital or doctor’s office, they may appreciate this Jacks and Janes “wellness gown,” a welcome alternative to the hospital gown. These garments are warm and lightweight and provide more coverage than the traditional medical gowns. They can be used at the doctor’s office or hospital and then brought home and washed for the next visit. Each gown comes with a bag for easy transport.

 

Cost: $55

To order: GetJanes

 

All-inclusive entertainment

VDay_AmazonPrime

 

If your aging loved one is the person who already has everything when it comes to material goods, you may want to think about a subscription service this Valentine’s Day like the one from Amazon Prime.

They won’t just get free shipping (which can come in handy when he or she would prefer not to run errands in the cold), but a range of entertainment options including videos and movies, a free e-book download each month, unlimited music streaming and photo storage.

 

Cost: $99 per year

To order: Amazon Prime

 

A good night’s sleep

Courtesy of Nightingale

 

If you know someone who has trouble sleeping, consider a gift that could help them get more zzzzzz’s. One option is the Nightingale Sleep System, which uses “sound blankets” to block out noises like snoring in nearby bedrooms. According Nightingale, the device can even work for someone with a hearing-related health condition like tinnitus. The system can be set up through a phone, Bluetooth or computer.

Cost: $150

To order: Nightingale

 

Varied costs

An anytime massage

Courtesy of Zeel

 

As we age, our bones, muscles and joints can get achy and need a little extra care. If your loved one enjoys massages but can’t get outside or just wants to stay in the comfort of her own home, consider gifting them with an on-demand massage from a company like Zeel. Their massage services are available 24-7 in more than 70 cities and metropolitan areas across the country.

At Zeel, you can usually get a same-day massage and some therapists are available in about an hour.

Cost: Varies

To order: Zeel

 

A day of adventure

Courtesy of Cloud 9 Living

 

If your sweetheart is far from a couch potato, you may want to consider giving them the gift of adventure this Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of ways to do this – an online search brings up many results. Or you can try a company like Cloud 9 Living, which offers golf lessons from a pro, dinner cruises, flying and driving lessons or helicopter rides. Options vary depending upon the locale.

Cost: Varies

To order: Cloud 9 Living

 

Legos for adults

Sphere made of random colored toy blocks. 3D Rendering

Legos aren’t just for kids anymore. If your Valentine likes to work with their hands, Lego offers a surprising range of sets that adults love. He or she might enjoy building an old-time fishing store, a double-decker London bus, a Disney castle, a winter village or 50s-style diner. Building with Legos can be a great way for your loved one to pass the time while improving their dexterity.

Cost: Varies

To order: Lego

 

Dance lessons

Courtesy of Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bonita Springs, FL

photo courtesy of Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bonita Springs, FL

If you think nothing is more romantic than sweeping across a dance floor, dance lessons will spark a fire this Valentine’s Day. Organizations like the Fred Astaire Dance Studio offer lessons all over the country. Many of the studios offer private, group and practice sessions. Dancing can help your loved one burn calories, improve muscle strength and provides a great opportunity to socialize and express themselves.

Cost: varies

To order: Fred Astaire Dance Studio

 

The Freebird Club: An Airbnb for 50-and-over Travelers

Friday, February 2nd, 2018 by Tammy Worth

Portrait Of Senior Friends Hiking In Countryside

You’ve probably heard of Airbnb, VRBO and other services that let people rent out rooms or their entire homes to vacationers. There’s a new option on the market that aims to provide that same convenient alternative to hotels – but this one only caters to the 50-and-over crowd.

The idea for The Freebird Club sparked for Peter Mangan when he began working and living part-time in Dublin. He was renting the home he had built in Southern Ireland and his father, an aging widower, took care of the home and managed the guests.

His father’s lifestyle had become less active since retirement and Mangan couldn’t help but notice how much he was enjoying this new experience.

“When older guests stayed, they hit it off on a consistent basis and were going to local pubs and sightseeing and having dinners together,” Mangan said. “He had a new social outlet and it was putting a smile on face.”

Mangan also got positive feedback online from guests about his father’s hosting abilities and he soon realized he had hit on a need: a social form of home sharing dedicated to people over 50.

“In an aging society where we hear about loneliness and isolation, this is a way older people can connect,” he said. “Travel hosting will allow people of a certain age to connect and meet and travel and stay with each other.”

Launched in early 2017, The Freebird Club has about 2,000 members with 200 hosts spread among 25 countries. About 40 percent of its members are American and a majority are in their late 50s and early 60s. Mangan’s goal is to offer travel options for aging adults who want to travel more, but either dislike the idea of group tours or lack the confidence to set out on their own.

A social connection

What differentiates Freebird from its competitors – other than the age designation – is the social aspect. According to Mangan, when someone stays at a rental through a place like Airbnb, a vast majority of their properties are vacant. There’s no guarantee travelers will have any social connection.

“It’s our niche … it offers a way to ensure that no matter where they go, they are staying with a fellow club member who has signed up to take part in this aspect of the club,” Mangan said.

And when it comes to socializing between guests and hosts, the Freebird founder says he understands that one size doesn’t fit all. But at the very least, customers can know they’re staying with a live-in host who is welcoming and has “bought into this ethos.”

In a focus group of older adults held in London prior to starting the site, participants voiced concern that they would be mismatched and would want more or less social interaction than was available. For this reason, hosts rank themselves on a scale of one to five: the first level for hosts who don’t want a lot of interaction, moving up to chatting and sharing meals, up to Level 5; hosts who make themselves available as a tour guide.

Focus on safety

Mangan said charging a fee for taking part in the club was important for creating a sense of security for aging adults booking a room online. For that reason, the cost to join is a one-time charge of 25 Euros (or about $31).

Everyone joining the club – hosts and guests – have to register and pay the fee. Prospective members must fill out identification information and upload a personal profile. Hosts are required to upload details of their accommodations and proof of address and to undergo an interview. This call is used to let hosts know what’s expected of them and to provide an extra level of comfort to prospective guests.

Benefits for hosts

Much like with Mangan’s father, being a host provides some social interaction with other adults of a similar age. But it also allows them to take advantage of empty rooms to supplement their income.

As the site grows, Mangan says Freebird is always in need of additional hosts. While the company tries to ensure that attractive destinations are well represented, members living anywhere can join and list properties.

“There’s an opportunity to make money from those rooms,” he said. “And we increasingly see that people get to know their area more. When they have a guest, they are more likely to go to nearby vacation spots that they might not otherwise visit.”

What's in it for travelers

Guests booking on Freebird will be staying in someone’s home, so the cost is usually less than a hotel or other rental. Mangan said they have some places for rent for as little as $25 and up to $130, depending upon the quality of the accommodation and its location.

“You are never getting a whole apartment, but we have rooms in fabulous city apartments and villas in Spain,” he said.

He stresses that booking on Freebird isn’t just about going to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, or other top tourist destinations. The site is as much about meeting new people all over the world. A guest may stay someplace slightly more obscure because they found a host who loves fly fishing or basket weaving or they may want to learn French and find a host who is willing to help them.

Looking ahead

Though Mangan says he wants to help people spend time with others with shared interests, the site isn’t quite set up specifically for that purpose yet. But he plans to create a platform for someone who’d like to visit Dublin, for instance, for a theater festival. The guest could then perform a sub-search on the site to find a host with that interest who may want to attend the festival too.

The site’s founder has also worked with www.internationalrail.com to help members get discounts on rail tickets to travel through Europe, Canada and Japan. This would allow people to country or city-hop (and stay in Freebird rooms along the way) at a more reasonable price.

Mangan said that while The Freebird Club is still young and small, it’s growing daily. He hopes to create momentum and soon see the site foster a strong international social travel community.

A 4-Step Guide to Tackle Estate Planning in 2018

Monday, January 29th, 2018 by Cathy Cassata

Senior woman meeting with agent

When your loved one is no longer able to make their own healthcare and financial decisions, you’ll want to be able to carry out their wishes as they imagined you would. However, if they become incapable of communicating their desires to you, having a proper estate to turn to can help ensure those last wishes are fulfilled.

"People used to think that estate planning was something for the ultra-wealthy," says Devon Rood Slovensky, an estate planning attorney in Roanoke, Virginia. "Estate planning isn't just about assets--it's about your health and your ability to take care of yourself. And everyone can benefit from planning for health and mental impairment, regardless of assets."

The law considers an "estate" to mean all of the property a person owns, both outright and jointly, such as bank accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, vehicles, jewelry, retirement accounts and even pets. Interest and money that a person is entitled to later, such as insurance proceeds and securities dividends, are also considered part of a person's estate.

Here are a few key steps to help get your loved one started.

 

1. Start the process now

When it comes to getting started with estate planning, it’s the sooner, the better, says Candice Aiston, an estate planning attorney in Portland, Oregon.

"It's important to get things done when the elder is able to make decisions on their own. Figuring out when that point is can be hard for a lot of clients who have dementia or who have periods when they are at full capacity, and others when they are not," says Aiston.

If a person becomes incapacitated and doesn’t have an estate in place, their family has to go to court to get a conservatorship to make their financial decisions and a guardianship to make their medical decisions.

Since age isn't the only factor that goes into someone being unable to make their own decisions, Aiston says it's never too early to start estate planning.

"The best time to do estate planning is when you turn 18, but other than that the best time to do it is now," she says.

Slovensky advises getting started by having the elder take an inventory of their resources. That includes not only tangible resources like their home and brokerage accounts, but also the people in their lives whom they love and trust.

"They need to think through who they can rely on, and backups to those people," says Slovensky.

If you’re unsure of how start this conversation, Aging Life Care Manager Debra D. Feldman suggests telling your loved one a story about a friend who encountered problems due to a lack of estate planning.

"This is a good way to show them what could go wrong, so that they can think about how they don’t want that for themselves or those taking care of them," says Feldman.  

 

2. Select a healthcare power of attorney

Your loved one should start by selecting their power of attorney for health care. This is the person named to make medical decisions for them if they’re unable to do so themselves. This person is designated in a legal document called an "advance health care directive," or depending on your state, it may be referred to as a "living will," "healthcare proxy" or "durable power of attorney for healthcare." Although state laws differ slightly, these directives are usually enforced only if someone is close to death from a terminal condition or in a permanent coma.

Having a healthcare power of attorney lets healthcare providers know what life-prolonging treatments a person does and doesn't want if they're no longer able to communicate their wishes with medical professionals. The healthcare power of attorney has the right to make sure their loved one’s wishes are enforced.

"These documents help make difficult decisions for family members easier, and lets the hospital know who to look to for answers," says Slovensky.

When choosing a healthcare power of attorney, Feldman says people should consider who will see their wishes met.

"Parents often just pick their oldest child for power of attorney for healthcare and power of attorney for property just because they are the oldest or don't want to insult or offend them. However, this person may not be best-suited," Feldman says.

She notes that many of her clients appoint one child as their power of attorney for healthcare and another for power of attorney for property. While this may work when siblings get along, Feldman notes that if the adult children don't get along, it could cause problems.

"What happens is the child who has healthcare proxy wants to move mom or dad into XYZ nursing home and the other child who has property proxy says 'no' and won't pay for it," she says.  

 

3. Name a durable power of attorney

While the healthcare power of attorney is able to make decisions related to a person's health, only the durable power of attorney (also called a "financial power of attorney") can make financial decisions on their behalf, such as applying for Medicaid, paying for a nursing home, setting up a revocable living trust to manage assets after they die and more.

 If a person becomes mentally incompetent, is in a coma or experiences another debilitating medical emergency and doesn’t have a durable power of attorney for finances, a judge will have to appoint someone to manage their finances for them, even if the appointee is unfamiliar with the person or their money matters.

"Absent a power of attorney, your family would have to go through a guardianship procedure, which costs money and takes time, even in an emergency. A guardianship proceeding is generally at least 25 times more expensive than preparing a power of attorney, and can greatly exceed that if your family members fight over who will make the best decisions," explains Slovensky.

Aiston adds that some states recognize what’s known as a springing power of attorney, or a financial power of attorney who doesn't get power until their loved one is incapacitated.

"This is a bit safer than the durable power of attorney, but many states don't offer it," Aiston notes.  

 

4. Choose how assets are handled

If a person dies and hasn’t set up a will or trust, their assets will pass by the rules of intestacy, or “intestate succession,” which can vary from state to state. Under these rules, the state will create a will for the deceased person that distributes his or her estate to their surviving heirs, such as spouses, children, other descendants or parents. If none of these people exist, the person’s property may go back to the state.

"This might be okay in some circumstances. For example, if you don't own an home, don't have significant assets, you have a nuclear family (no stepchildren), no minor children, and your adult children get along (and you want them to have everything)," says Slovensky. "[But] most Americans don't fall into these circumstances."

 Choosing to have a will or trust is the best way to make sure a person's assets got where they want them to.  

 

Estate Planning 101

What is a Will?

A will is the simplest estate planning document. It tells a probate court what a person wants done with their assets after they die. It does not include healthcare decisions. Some of the things a will might include consist of the following:
  • Who the person wants to leave their property to
  • Who they want to be their guardian and manage property for any dependent children
  • Who should act as their representative or executor to manage their estate, pay debts and taxes, and distribute remaining property
"For a lot of families, [a will] is good enough, but significant assets or additional complicating factors may make it necessary to set up a trust," notes Slovensky.

For instance, a will may not be detailed enough for people who want to give more specific instructions about what happens to their assets, such as this scenario: a person wants to specify that their first child will inherit their house after they die, and that their first grandchild gets the house after their parent dies.

Other situations that may make a will insufficient include:

  • Providing management for property that goes to a child with special needs or a disability
  • Having children from one or more prior marriages who are likely to conflict with a current spouse
  • Concern that someone may claim the will is invalid because they were mentally incompetent or subject to fraud or duress when writing them
Aiston points out that having a will does not save loved ones from going through the courts.

"Many people think that doing a will means that they are not going through the courts and saving their family from going through the probate process, but actually the will's whole point is to go through the probate process," she says.  

 

What is a trust?

There are two kinds of trusts. Revocable trusts allow a person to change their terms at any time, as long as they are mentally competent to do so. Irrevocable trusts can't be changed or amended once they're created.

The main purpose of a trust is to bypass the probate court system. When a person has a trust, they will most likely still have a will, a power of attorney and an advance medical directive.

Like a will, a trust outlines a trustee and what a person wants done with their assets. When a trust is drafted, a person transfers titles to most of their assets into their trust, so that the trust owns these assets. For some assets, like life insurance, the beneficiary is changed to the trust so that the payouts go to the trust. Then when a person becomes incapacitated, their trustee can step in and manage their assets without having to deal with probate court.

"The reason people want to avoid [probate court] is it can take a year or more, can be costly, and it's a matter of public record. Trusts are the easiest and cleanest way to go that will cause family the least amount of hassle," says Aiston.

Slovensky outlines a few other benefits of trusts:

  • They are constructed to carefully plan for tax treatment and minimize taxes involved with transferring wealth
  • Created for bespoke, unique circumstances, such as caring for a special needs relative to ensure that inherited wealth does not dis-entitle them to government benefits
  • Provide for the ongoing administration of assets, so that assets are carefully managed over a longer time period to ensure multiple generations benefit from wealth accumulated over a lifetime
While trusts do cost more to put together upfront, Aiston says they save family members money in the long-run.

 

 

10 Pros and Cons of Condo Living for Seniors

Monday, January 22nd, 2018 by Phil Karp

Cheerful elderly woman talking on smart phone at home

If you or your aging parent are looking for a more manageable living space than your current home, a condo may be a great option. However, condo living isn’t for everyone. Here are 10 pros and cons to consider before you pursue condo living.

 

Pro: Little or no maintenance

One major perk of condo living is that the HOA handles most aspects of home maintenance and repairs. This usually includes lawn maintenance, and may also include some degree of interior and exterior maintenance and repair. Be sure to ask about what’s covered before you purchase a condo.

 

Con: HOA fees

Most of the perks of living in a condo don’t come free—condo owners are obligated to pay dues to cover the costs of the amenities and services. Lawn and building maintenance, pool upkeep, and well maintained common areas, for instance, are paid for with HOA fees.

Fees can vary greatly between complexes, so be very clear about them before you put an offer on a condo. In some cases, the cost of the fees may outweigh the savings and perks associated with condo living—especially if the amenities don’t appeal to you.

 

Pro: Security

Many condominium complexes are gated and monitored. There may also be a staffed front desk, as well as security staff on premises. This can provide added safety and security for singles and older adults who live alone or travel frequently.

 

Con: Less privacy

Most condos share a wall with at least one other unit. Whether you’re looking at townhouses, single-story cluster homes, or apartment-style condo buildings, you can count on having a neighbor in close proximity. This means that other people may notice your comings and goings, so if that kind of privacy is important to you, then a condo may not be your best option.

The population density may also result in a noisy environment. Even if the place doesn’t seem noisy at all when you’re looking at it, that could change quickly with new neighbors.

 

Pro: Affordability

Condos may offer a solution for people who want to live in areas that might otherwise be unaffordable, such as walkable shopping areas and city centers. In addition, many condos offer upscale design details that you may not find in houses at a similar price point, such as granite countertops, hardwood floors and skylights.

 

Con: Parking proximity

Some condo complexes offer private garages directly underneath or behind the corresponding units. But more commonly, parking is in a separate lot or garage located near the building. This could be an uncomfortable inconvenience that is especially problematic for aging adults with mobility challenges.

 

Pro: Amenities

Whether you’re looking at age-restricted communities or all-ages condo complexes, condominiums often offer a variety of attractive amenities. From common areas such as rooftop terraces, gardens and grilling areas to fitness centers, pools and game nights, condo complexes often provide social activities that are literally steps from home. Some amenities may appeal especially to aging adults, including grocery delivery and shared transportation to popular shopping destinations.

 

Con: Limited Rentals

What separates condos from apartments is that each condo is privately owned and people have personally invested in each unit. This often leads to properties that are better cared for than typical apartments are, with lower turnover.

To ensure that the complex remains cared for, and to minimize turnover, many HOAs impose limits on how many units can be available for rental at once—if at all. This may be a problem if you or your parents plan to one day transition into age-restricted housing, and want to rent a condo in the meantime. Additionally, it could limit the possibility of renting the property to generate income later in life.

 

Pro: Accessibility

Condominium communities geared specifically toward aging adults may offer special features to accommodate their needs, including alert buttons, support rails and wheelchair accessibility in bathrooms. Other features may be potentially life-saving, such as increased accessibility for medical professionals.

 

Con: Accessibility

This point is listed above as a pro, because in the right circumstances, condos really can offer optimal accessibility. On the other hand, not all condos offer accessibility accommodations, and the ones that do may have limited availability due to high demand.

Whether you’re looking for a simpler living space or for housing that will support your needs as you age, condos have a lot to offer. But they also have drawbacks, so it’s important to weigh your choices carefully—especially if you’re looking to buy or rent long-term.

 

About the Author Phil Karp's 25 years in the real estate industry give him insight and experience about the traits necessary for a successful career in the field. As Senior Manager of Brokerage Services at Owners.com, he works with an array of new and experienced homebuyers and homeowners. Phil lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and rescue dog, Dakota.

5 Unexpected Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Friday, January 12th, 2018 by Linda Lee Ruzicka

GardeningSenior

Gardening is an activity that can not only help seniors eat healthier but also keep active physically. And as an added benefit, gardening brings mental and emotional benefits.

How? Here are some unexpected ways gardening can improve an older adult's health.

1. Better blood flow to the brain

Studies show that adults in their 60s and 70s who are gardeners have up to a 47 percent lower chance of developing dementia compared to non-gardening older adults. Even though gardening doesn’t involve a lot of strenuous physical activity, it still boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Although it’s a low-impact activity, gardening increases the heart rate, which leads more blood flow into your vital organs.

 

2. Increased serotonin levels

Digging in the dirt is a great way to boost your mood and relieve stress. One reason for this researchers found is that Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacterium found in soil, releases serotonin, a chemical that helps to balance mood and cognitive function.

 

3. Enhanced mental stimulation

When seniors or adults of any age are gardening, they become more aware of the environment around them. And because gardening requires the ability to gather information and learn new skills along with problem-solving and planning, it keeps the brain active. This brain activity helps create new neural pathways. And when gardening also doubles as a social activity, it helps older adults preserve social and verbal skills.

 

4. Released anxiety

It's not uncommon for older adults to experience anxiety, whether they have an anxiety disorder or less frequent nerves. And for seniors with dementia, becoming agitated and anxious is a common symptom. With its sounds, sights, and scents, spending time in a garden can bring about relaxation and help relieve anxiety in seniors, including those with dementia.

This helps to control agitation. In fact, some memory care facilities have memory care gardens where their patients can walk around without fear of becoming lost.

 

5. Vitamin D exposure

When you’re out in the garden, you’re exposed to Vitamin D, which is essential for increasing calcium levels. Calcium is beneficial for the bones and immune system.

In addition to the act of gardening itself, there are numerous low-maintenance plants with medicinal health benefits. Including tea that can be made out of the leaves or flowers. According to lawn care company LawnStarter, native plants such as the beautyberry have additional health benefits and can be used to help with joint pain and stomach aches. Or there’s the aloe vera plant, which is known for its extract, used to soothe skin irritations.

 

Gardening Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips for seniors to keep in mind before digging into gardening:
  • Attend to any insect bites, bruises or cuts immediately.
  • If using power tools or other types of gardening tools, use care when operating them.
  • Make sure that all pathways and walkways in the garden are flat, non-slip surfaces to avoid falling or tripping.
  • Warm up your muslces before starting to garden and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure, and garden either in the morning or later in the afternoon. Apply sunscreen often, wear a hat, protective shoes, gardening gloves and lightweight, comfortable clothing.
 

Linda Lee Ruzicka is an avid gardening blogger and expert. In her spare time she can be found enjoying and relaxing in several gardens around her home that she tends.

10 Top Travel Destinations for Retirees in 2018

Monday, January 8th, 2018 by Gina Roberts-Grey

Happy senior tourist reading map

For those who are retired and free of the demands of a work-driven schedule, this year is the perfect time for your next travel adventure. Whether you’re looking to explore a few of the 50 states or hop the pond and roam other countries, we’ve rounded up ten of the best travel destinations around the globe for retirees in 2018.

1. Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City skyline at dusk and Saint Lawrence River

“Quebec City, Canada, is very retiree-friendly,” says Elizabeth Avery, founder of travel company Solo Trekker 4 U and a Baby Boomer who’s traveled to 68 countries and all 50 U.S. states. “Prices are half that of France but it has much of the same charm.”

Easily accessible by air, along with train and car if you’re on the East Coast, U.S. travelers will find the exchange rate here favorable, making shopping, dining and paying for a hotel easy to budget.

With colonial battlefields, museums, basilicas and natural sites like Montmorency Falls, Quebec City boasts sight-seeing options to suit everyone’s tastes. But Avery notes that “along with having so much to do, there is also a lot of options for those just looking to relax” in a European-inspired setting.

2. Israel

Old City Jerusalem from above. Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

“This is one of the best destinations for retirees because travelers are able to experience incredible Middle Eastern culture in a comfortable way,” says Julia Sharoff, the owner of Fig Trips, a boutique travel company.

There are many reasons to travel to Israel. From Tel Aviv’s white sand beaches and world-class cuisine, to the rich history and religious treasures of Jerusalem, Israel is unique from other destinations because most of the tourist sites are largely handicap-accessible and designed to allow travelers to explore at their own pace.

“For example, many of the archeological ruins and geologic formations are now accessible to travelers who are not comfortable hiking using gondolas, such as the Masada fortress and the Rosh HaNikra grottoes,” says Sharoff.

3. Bhutan

Tiger's Nest, Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan

Tucked in the Himalayan foothills, the Kingdom of Bhutan has preserved its culture and environment remarkably well. While not the easiest place to get to, the travel time is rewarded with a fascinating culture, stunning architecture, a pristine landscape, and friendly people.

"The world is starting to notice Bhutan and more people are visiting this country,” says Katya D’Angelo of adventure travel company Boundless Journeys. “Bhutan has been included in travel lists recently, so 2018 is the perfect time to go before it becomes too popular.”

Highlights include the hike to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery and tea with young Buddhist monks. There are also several 5-star hotel options (Aman, Uma, Taj) for those who want and can afford a luxury experience.

“We recommend allowing 2 weeks including travel time—more to visit Nepal, Cambodia, or Vietnam while you’re there—perfect for retirees who aren’t limited by work vacation,” says d’Angelo.

4. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem old building

A veritable feast for the thinking traveler, Winston-Salem evolved from its traditional Moravian, tobacco and textile roots into a thriving city that gained popularity as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley wine region. In the heart of North Carolina’s first and largest American Viticultural Area, Winston-Salem is a city that boasts a rich history and impressive culinary scene reflective of its Southern heritage.

Nestled between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains to the west and the Atlantic beaches and Outer Banks to the east, it’s steeped in scenic beauty, Southern history and culture. There are also robust cultural offerings, with fine arts, theater, technological research and entrepreneurship perfect for an eclectic group of travelers.

Old Salem boasts over 100 preserved and restored buildings and historical gardens that come alive with costumed interpreters portraying life from the 18th century and the progressive Moravians from Eastern Europe who settled here in the mid-1700s. The region’s intriguing history also comes to life in a number of historical gardens, homes and attractions.

5. Tuscany

Chianti vineyard landscape with stone house,Tuscany,Italy,Europe

If you’re looking for an earthy experience tucked in a quaint and idyllic 700-year-old European village, consider taking a one-week culinary tour of Italy’s Tuscany region. “You’ll have the chance to cook every day, in classes taught by the local people of the village,” says George Meyers, Owner of Cook In Tuscany, a cooking school in the picturesque hilltop village of Montefollonico, Italy.

Along with the chance to roll out homemade pasta and make cheese and bread at an organic farm, Meyers says visitors will only cook with items from the school’s garden or local farmers market. “We know where our food comes from.”

You’ll stay in in a house that is over 700 years old, in a village situated off bustling tourist paths.

“Guests experience Tuscany as a local, not as a tourist,” says Meyers.

6. Upstate New York

Autumn Foliage reflecting in Lake, Adirondacks, New York

A thriving foodie culture and long list of delicious restaurants to try makes upstate New York your taste buds’ best friend. And the area’s breathtaking year-round scenery makes it appealing for those who love to immerse themselves in nature or enjoy amateur photography.

From colorful fall foliage to white-capped waves on Alexandria Bay, the sometimes-overlooked region is home to dozens of options to soak in Mother Nature’s beauty by car, boat, bicycle or on foot. Nestled in between hundreds of acres of robust trees, Lake Ontario and the Adirondack mountain range, this is a green-space lover’s must-visit.

Visitors to the region can also learn about the history of the Erie Canal, visit the International Boxing Hall of Fame or stroll through one of many art and science museums.

7. Portugal

Azenhas do Mar, Portugal coastal town.

This dynamic country offers art, culture, history, culinary specialties, beaches, hillside villages and forested walking paths. From wine tasting to traditional street performers playing the country’s traditional Fado music, Portugal may sometimes be overlooked on the periphery of the European continent, but it packs a punch and has come a long way from a 1970s-era dictatorship.

D’Angelo says those wanting to experience the Old World charm and rustic atmosphere before it completely modernizes and polishes up will relish a trip to Portugal.

“It is also accessible both for ease of travel and as an introduction to traveling for those just starting out due to its familiar European culture,” she says.

8. South Africa

Cape Town and the 12 Apostels from above

In South Africa, “there’s something for everyone,” says D’Angelo. From beaches, wildlife and wine to cultural hotspots and hiking, it’s a great destination for those seeking a wide range of experiences on one trip. Spend some time in vibrant Cape Town, enjoy a marine safari, head to a wine estate and finish with a safari on a private reserve of Kruger National Park where you’ll spot the Big Five and a plethora of other animals.

“Currently the South Africa rand exchange rate offers a good value to the dollar, making it more affordable than ever for 2018,” she adds.

A trip to South Africa can be easily tailored to the adventure and activity level of travelers, and a safari is something many retirees may yearn to cross off their bucket list. Plus, for travelers with extra time and budget, South Africa can easily be paired with other exploration in the region (gorilla trekking in Rwanda, touring the Okavango Delta in Botswana or the dunes of Namibia).

9. Asheville, North Carolina

Downtown Asheville skyline flowers in spring

For those making the trip to the fifth destination on this list, another side of North Carolina awaits in Asheville, an increasingly buzzworthy town at the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surrounded by over a million acres of national forest, it has one of the highest concentrations of waterfalls in the country and the greatest temperate biodiversity in the Western Hemisphere.

Asheville is also home to the internationally known tour company No Taste Like Home. “We offer one of the only "u-pick, forage-to-table” experiences in the world,” says Alan Muskat, the company’s marketing director.

Expert guides lead groups collecting edible wild plants, mushrooms and more. And the participants learn to cook their very own “catch of the day.” “Then one of six local restaurants prepares it for them,” says Muskat. “Some call it “Survivor meets Iron Chef.” We call it “find dining.”

Foraging is surprisingly safe and easy. “It’s a multigenerational tradition in many countries, and most retirees have done it as children,” he adds.

For those on fixed incomes, the company’s tours are pay-what-you-can and packages are available with a wide variety of other accommodations.

10. Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh in India

Sipping a glass of delicious Ayurvedic tea while gazing at the mighty Ganges River flowing through the scenic valley of Rishikesh is a great way to cap off a day spent in this northern region of India. Journey on your path to personal introspection or learn to meditate and learn the basics of yoga in an area where a laidback culture is infused with spirituality and devotion.

The resorts, ashrams and camps that dot area’s riverbanks riverside provide visitors with the perfect setting for a relaxed, slightly off the beaten path vacation. While Ayurvedic massages, organic food and a tranquil atmosphere help tame your tired soul, the water sports and the hill stations like Mussoorie, Chopta, and Dev Prayag nurture the child in you.

During your stay in Rishikesh you can also plan for a boat ride in the mighty river or can just enjoy nature's music sitting near the river. Visitors to the area can also take a day tour in the hills to experience the real-life inspiration for the many novels of author Ruskin Bond, who lives in nearby Mussoorie.

 

 

5 Smart Resume Tips for Jobseekers Over 60

Friday, January 5th, 2018 by Mary Walton

Back from retirement

If you’re over 60 and looking for a full-time job or something part-time, you may be feeling discouraged, despite having a lot of experience to offer any future employer. Whether they know it or not, employers may be engaging in 'age profiling'.

There are assumptions that are made about people over 60 that you can overcome, starting with your resume. It's the first impression you'll make, so make it a good one with these tips.

1. Take Care With Your Contact Details

You already know that you need to have your contact details on your resume. If you don't have an email address, now's the time to get one. When you set up your email, try using the format "First name_Last [email protected]" Avoid signifiers of your age, such as including your year of birth in the address, as many do. This will help you make that good first impression without disclosing your age.

A bonus tip is to use Gmail if you don’t already. This will help show recruiters that you know your way around recent technology.

2. Focus On Your Most Recent Experience

The amount of experience you have is an asset to any recruiter, but you do need to be careful with how you lay it out. "Most recruiters will only focus on the last five years of experience, as they're the most relevant," says resume editor Faye Reynolds from writing assistance service Assignment Help. "As this is the case, focus your resume on the most recent experience you have."

It’s also best to focus on the work you've done that's relevant to the field you're applying to now. The side work you did in your teens and 20's will probably not be of interest. If you have a few decades of experience, it's fine to write 'over 15 years experience', and then go into details in your interview.

3. Show That You're Willing To Learn

It's true that many jobs require some technical knowledge, so you'll need to show the recruiter what tech skills you have. A good way of doing so is to use the descriptors “proficient” and “expert.” “Proficient” will show that you know enough to perform the chief functions of a particular program, and “expert” shows that you know how to use every function of the program.

If there are skills you'll know you'll need for a new job, it's worth looking into online tutorials to learn how to use them. They're quite easy to find through a Google search. You can even mention on your resume that you're studying a certain skill, if it's relevant to the job at hand.

4. Use Online Tools to Write Your Resume

There are a lot of tools online that will help you write and proofread your resume. Give some of these a try:

5. List Your Education Strategically

When applying for just about any job, you’ll need to list your education. Many job seekers worry about doing so, as it can give away your age.

When listing your education, list your qualifications and places of education, but leave out the dates. You can go over this in your interview, if the dates are needed. Also, consider putting your education further down your resume. Your experience will be more important as it's more recent.

With these tips, you'll be able to write a resume that will impress recruiters. It's your first impression, so make it count with a resume that highlights your best features as an employee.

Mary Walton proofreads content for Revieweal, an online service that reviews writing companies.

2017's Best Books About Aging

Friday, December 29th, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

Reading1

 

Getting older comes with some major changes, which can be both challenging and rewarding. For those lucky enough to live well into old age, this time of life is an opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of those who’ve experienced the same things. Books can serve as guides to help readers not only survive but thrive throughout their golden years.

Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite books about aging of 2017. We hope you find them helpful as you navigate the joys and challenges of getting older.

1. AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip

by Jean Chatzky and Michael F. Roizen, MD

With a light yet helpful approach, authors Michael F. Roizen and Jean Chatzky (“The Today Show’s” resident financial expert) bring readers to the intersection of finances and health in this book. The pair focuses on both areas because, as they put it, “All the money in the world doesn’t mean a thing if we can’t get out of bed.”

Although many people of retirement age are rightfully concerned about their long-term health or their ability to finance 30 more years of living life fully, the authors demonstrate how these two factors must work in conjunction to the benefit of both. It’s a fun take on a topic that can be daunting without the right guidance.

Find it online.

 

2. Too Young to Be Old: Love, Learn, Work and Play as You Age

by Nancy K. Schlossberg

Author Nancy Schlossberg’s upbeat guide to mindful aging reminds us that it’s never too late for self-improvement. If you’re looking for ideas around positive aging and lifelong learning, “Too Young to Be Old” is an ideal handbook, especially for readers who are struggling to come to terms with aging.

The book is filled with information and guidance to help you embrace change, enhance your coping skills and better handle intimacy. This is not just a how-to either; the advice is backed by psychological theories that provide a deeper understanding of our motivations.

Find it online.

 

3. I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years

by Ilchi Lee

While many of the best aging-related books of 2017 about aging focus on aspects such as health, financial longevity or lifestyle, Ilchi Lee’s “I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years” is centered on a mindset that will help you to live out your years in a mindful way.

With actionable advice and impactful words of wisdom, this book is a must-read for anyone who feels as though they’re working toward a better existence. (In other words, pretty much anyone). Within its pages, readers can find meaning and purpose that will guide them in planning for the future.

Find it online

 

4. Enlightened Aging

by Eric B. Larson, MD A well-rounded guide to a successful life in the later years, “Enlightened Aging” provides readers with a roadmap to resilience that can help make you happier, healthier and more social as you age. The book features several real-life examples from the author’s study subjects, and you just might recognize yourself in one of their stories.

With a mix of science and advice, this book outlines a path toward happiness that includes strong relationships with health care providers, a community of supportive and helpful friends and a trove of resources that can make all the difference in the years past 60.

Find it online

 

5. Just Move! A New Approach to Fitness After 50

by Jim Owen It’s well known that staying active after 50 is important to longevity and good health, but author Jim Owen’s book gives a practical, step-by-step guide to make that happen. The book teaches you how to combat daily aches and stiffness while also building strength in a safe, measured way.

Proving that 70 is not too late to get started toward better fitness, Owen – who’s now 76 and started at that age himself – also provides the extra inspiration many of us sometimes need to invest in our health and to keep going. No matter what your current level of physical activity is, this guide can get you moving more and feeling better.

Find it online

 

6. Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy

by Andrea Brandt

Many of the best aging-related books of 2017 offer advice on enjoying the later years, but this guide from aging expert and psychotherapist Andrea Brandt takes that concept one step further. Want to learn the tools for embracing aging and charting your own path to a purposeful life? This book can be your roadmap.

Using helpful exercises and inspiring stories from real people, the book is designed to motivate readers to dig deeply and find the inner strength to achieve the love and joy they seek. Life does not wane after 50, the author writes. In fact, it can pick up speed toward a positive destination.

Find it online

 

7. Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy

by Thomas Moore Have you ever heard someone described as having an “old soul”? It usually means that the person is wise or solemn beyond his or her years. In bestselling author Thomas Moore’s new book, he suggests working toward an ageless soul, which is both wise and young at heart.

The book guides readers through the different stages of aging. Among the topic covered are ways to process difficult feelings and how to seize opportunities to learn new things and connect with others as you age. Grounded in psychological research and personal reflections, Moore encourages readers to break the shackles of what society tells us is “appropriate” for the older crowd and instead embrace a life with no age-related rules.

Find it online

2017's Best Podcasts About Getting Older

Monday, December 18th, 2017 by SeniorHomes Staff Writers

PodcastsAging

Getting older can be challenging, no matter how well adjusted you are. Not only are physical aches and pains more prevalent, but you also have to face tough questions about the future, including how to make your retirement money last, navigating estate planning and considering senior living.

Luckily, you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Today there are more resources available on these topics than ever before, including books, the Internet and more recently, a growing number of podcasts. Here are a few of the best podcasts of 2017 about getting older.  

1. OMG I’m Getting Older and So Is My Mom

Aging shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. In fact, a regular dose of well-delivered humor can help alleviate the struggles of getting older. Scott Greenberg is the down-to-earth host of the radio show “Oh My God, I’m Getting Older and So Is My Mom.”

Greenberg gives helpful insights around making aging-related decisions based on his experience as president of senior home care company Palm Beach ComForcare. He also offers tips for adult children who want to help their aging parents enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Listen on iTunes  

2. Aging GreatFully

“Aging GreatFully” is a podcast devoted to motivating and inspiring older adults to think about where they’ve been and where they want to go in the future. Hosted by gerontologist Holley Kelley, episodes features innovative authors, nutritionists, aging experts and other influencers.

Through collaboration with experts from around the globe, Kelley offers listeners information and inspiration to help seniors love life at all ages. The show can be found on the Contact Talk Radio Network, a radio platform with shows focusing on health, spirituality, environmental issues and activism.

Listen on iTunes  

3. Call Kira About Aging

“Call Kira About Aging” is a highly informational podcast that covers a wide variety of age-related topics from colon health to caring for senior pets. Host Kira Reginato draws on her two decades of experience in elder care management to bring listeners useful information about all aspects of the aging process.

She invites a variety of experts to break down topics of interest to older adults and make them easier to understand. Some examples include how to apply for veterans’ benefits, dealing with ageism, how to use new technologies and moving on after losing a spouse.

Listen on iTunes  

4. Live Long and Master Aging

The path to getting older is often marked by new and unexpected physical challenges. Peter Bowes, host of the podcast “Live Long and Master Aging” (LLAMA) invites scientists and other aging experts to discuss ways to extend our "healthspan" and enjoy great health for as long as possible.

Listeners will enjoy the variety of topics covered in the podcast. Recent episodes ranged from a discussion on how modern media impacts health, to an interview with musician Herb Alpert, to envisioning a bathroom of the future that promotes longevity and health.

Listen on iTunes  

5. Healthy Aging

The aging process is not the same for everyone, but many age-related challenges can be reduced by focusing on your health as you grow older. Dr. Denise Bogard is the host of “Healthy Aging” and has a long, successful background in the health field. She finished medical school in 1989 and uses her expertise to help seniors learn how to take care of their aging bodies.

Bogard’s program provides helpful information about how to control blood sugar, optimize hormone balance, limit toxin exposure and live an overall healthier life in retirement. Whether you’re struggling with arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune disease or general health challenges, you’ll find a wealth of information about how to age as healthfully as possible by listening to this podcast.

Listen on Stitcher  

6. Don’t Act Your Age

Ashton Applewhite is the outspoken host of the podcast “Don’t Act Your Age” and author of the book “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Aging.” She uses a somewhat irreverent, refreshingly honest approach and isn’t afraid to address society’s unhealthy obsession with youth. The podcast is designed to help adults over 50 embrace the natural process of aging gracefully, without shame or feeling marginalized by society.

Listen on iTunes  

7. The Inner Game of Aging

As the name suggests, “The Inner Game of Aging” is a podcast that emphasizes how getting older can be treated like a game. Lee Mowatt weaves a positive message throughout the podcast series as he addresses challenging questions about age-related issues such as how to find greater happiness and purpose in retirement. Mowatt encourages seniors and those caring for aging loved ones to make the most of the aging process and create a meaningful legacy.

Listen on iTunes