Lost keys background

 

We all misplace things from time to time — we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Forgetfulness often comes with age and is a side effect of busy, stress-filled lives.

Memory loss and aging don’t always mean dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But, if accompanied by other symptoms, forgetfulness may signal a more serious problem such as mild cognitive impairment. Fortunately, there are a number of practical strategies you can use to counter forgetfulness and help you stop losing your stuff.

 

1. Create go-to storage for the important stuff

People often misplace important items like keys, wallets, and cell phones because they don’t have a designated place to put them when they walk in the door, says Rashelle Isip, an organization and time management consultant, author and creator of “The Order Expert” blog. She advises using a basket, tray, box, or another type of container and placing it near your front door or entryway where you’ll always see it when you’re heading in or out the door.

 

2. Deal with mail right away

Misplaced mail can lead to unpaid bills and losing important documents. A good rule of thumb is to deal with your mail the minute you get home instead of letting it pile up or migrate to various places around your home. As Cheryl Eisen, president of luxury home staging company Interior Marketing Group, told Good Housekeeping for an article on de-cluttering, if you can’t file it or frame it, toss it out.

 

3. Use one bag, briefcase or purse

Consolidating everything into one bag means you’ll only have one carryall to keep track of, instead of several. You may even want to purchase an in-purse or bag organizer that allows you to move items from one carryall to another with ease, lessening the chance that you’ll leave something behind.

 

4. List the items you regularly need

Create a short checklist of the items you’ll need on a daily basis and refer to it at the end of the workday or when you’re preparing to leave the house. You can even schedule a reminder into your cell phone or laptop. When the reminder pops up, take a moment to make sure you have everything on your checklist. Schedule these reminders throughout the day, whether you’re at work, school, the gym, etc.

 

5. Train your brain

One way to help you remember items is to be aware of the things you lose the most often. Is it your keys? Your cell phone? The phone charger? Once you recognize the things you tend to misplace most, it should be easier to come up with ways to keep it from happening again. It may even help re-train your brain to visualizing yourself putting those items in the same place repeatedly over time.

 

When forgetfulness signals something else

While some forgetfulness and occasional memory loss can be a normal part of the aging process, it could also signify a bigger problem. Frequent forgetfulness could be a sign of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, a less-noticeable decline in mental ability that is often a precursor to dementia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some 12 percent of people over 70 years old have MCI. And while most of those people are able to manage their day-to-day affairs independently and show no serious signs of impairment, they may also have trouble with memory, language, reasoning and judgment.

There are two types of MCI: amnestic, which significantly affects memory, and non-amnestic, which impacts cognitive functions other than memory. Possible signs of MCI include:

  • The person forgets appointments and routine events.
  • He or she increasingly repeats questions or stories.
  • He or she forgets to take medications.
  • Tasks such as cooking become too complicated.

 

MCI causes and treatment

Researchers have not settled on a definitive cause for MCI, but possible causes include a neurodegenerative disease, a vascular condition, depression or other psychiatric condition, or an injury that led to brain trauma. It’s important to note that not everyone diagnosed with MCI develops dementia.

There are no treatments or medications for MCI approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, although there’s some evidence that the drug Donepezil, also known as Aricept, can slow the progression of MCI in the short-term. Treatment for depression may also help patients deal with the symptoms of MCI.

If you or a loved one is showing signs of MCI or another memory problem, it’s best to seek medical attention early on. Consulting a doctor and getting the right treatment can help delay the progression of symptoms and improve quality of life.

 

 

Happy Senior Couple Sitting On Sofa With Dog

 

There’s no shortage of research that shows how pets are good for us – not only as a loyal companion but also for the positive impact our furry friends can have on our health.

That holds true for older adults, too, who can benefit greatly from having a pet in their lives as they deal with the inevitable changes that come with aging. Not everyone can take on the responsibility of pet ownerhips. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of time spent with friends’ and relatives’ pets, through volunteering with animal care organizations, or visiting therapy animals.

What follows are just some of the ways pets benefit seniors.

 

1. Pets are good for health

Pets can boost an older adult’s health in more way than one. Here are a few of the health perks of pets for seniors.

  • Owning a pet, and the act of petting a cat or dog on a regular basis has been shown to lower blood pressure.
  • A Loyola University Chicago study in 2014 showed that patients recovering from joint replacement surgery needed less pain medication if they interacted with a therapy dog daily.
  • Research has shown that the presence of pets causes a person’s heart rate and stress levels to drop immediately.
  • Plus, seniors who interact with pets over a long period of time have lower cholesterol, decreased depression, and better protection against heart disease and stroke.

 

2. Pets help ease loneliness

Pets can be great company, especially if you live alone and don’t get the chance to interact with friends and family on a regular basis. Our furry friends also seem to have a sense when you’re feeling lonely and down, and show their love unconditionally.

 

3. A sense of responsibility and routine

Another benefit of pets for seniors is that caring for an animal requires a sense of responsibility and routine that may be lacking as older adults shed long-held work and social roles. Caring for a pet can provide purpose and establishes a routine that’s partly based on the needs of the pets. It can even improve self-confidence.

There’s no question that grooming, feeding, and exercising pets makes them happy. But as it turns out, these simple acts can bring you happiness, too.

 

4. Increased social interaction

Pets are not only a great topic of conversation – and most pet owners love to talk about their pets – but taking your dog to the park or on a daily walk around the neighborhood just might help you make new friends. If nothing else, your pet will likely try to make friends!

 

5. An excuse to exercise

Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk or playing with your cat indoors, another benefit of pets for seniors is that they help make our lives more active. Even the simple act of feeding your pet helps get your muscles and joints moving. And one study showed that adults who regularly walked their dog had a much lower chance of obesity than adults without a dog.

 

6. Pets provide security

Seniors – particularly those who’ve suffered hearing loss as they’ve aged – don’t always hear it when someone is potentially lurking just outside the home. But animals have a heightened sense of hearing and smell and react quickly to noises – even if they’re only lifting their head in the direction of the sound. Or, they may bark and run to the door.

 

7. Pets can save lives

Last, but not least, pets can be lifesavers — literally. Research shows that pets are beneficial for people with serious health issues, including:

  • Pets for seniors have a therapeutic effect on those with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Visits from trained therapy dogs provide instant companionship and comfort, as well as a sense of connection for those who are isolated by the effects of dementia.
  • Specially trained dogs have been known to detect the presence of cancerous tumors in humans before conventional tests do. In one study, dogs were able to detect colon cancer with over 90 percent accuracy. Experts aren’t entirely sure how dogs know when someone has cancer, but think it’s related to the animal’s keen sense of smell.
  • Another benefit of pets for seniors is that they can help patients with diabetes, particularly when the person’s blood sugar is dangerously low. Diabetes service dogs have a highly developed sense of smell that enables them to detect a variety of chemical changes in the body.

 

 

 

Pollen like snow

 

Have you ever experienced new allergy symptoms as an older adult, but attributed them to something else? Did you know that even if you didn’t have allergies as a child, teen or younger adult, you’re not immune to them as an older adult?

It turns out, developing allergies later in life is not only possible — some medical professionals say it’s increasingly prevalent.

“Late onset of allergies have increased exponentially over the years and today it is really quite common,” says Dr. Bob Griesse of Whole Body Health, an Ohio-based medical practice.

Up to 30 percent of adults experience nasal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Doctors aren’t certain about how many in this group developed allergies as adults, but as the population ages, more cases of adult onset allergies are expected.

 

Potential Causes

There are a number of reasons why someone may develop a new allergy later in life, says Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, a pulmonologist and founder of the Cleveland Clinic Florida Cough Center. He notes that seniors who’ve suffered from asthma or chronic respiratory conditions linked to smoking tend to be more likely to develop an allergy as an older adult. Additionally, aging predisposes you to allergies as your immune system starts to weaken.

“As people who are 65 and older are getting medications that depress their defense mechanisms and immunize systems, they tend to have a higher rate of rhinitis and other respiratory symptoms,” Ferrer says.

Medications and treatments that can suppress the immune system include steroids such as Prednisone, which is used to treat a variety of conditions including arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Those who undergo chemotherapy as part of cancer treatment also experience a weakened immune system and may be more vulnerable to developing allergies as older adults, the doctor says.

Ferrer also points to research that suggests that exposure to chemicals – from pollution, tobacco smoke and pesticides, among others – increases our likelihood of developing allergies.

 

Adult-onset Allergy Symptoms

If you’ve developed a seasonal allergy to allergens such as pollen or dust, some common signs include rashes or respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion and cough.

If you’re allergic to a specific food, you may experience a tingling in your mouth, gastrointestinal pain, hives, or swelling of your lips, throat, tongue and face. Food allergens can also cause anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction which can be life-threatening. In some cases, food allergies may lead to vomiting and diarrhea, poor circulation and low blood pressure.

Medication-related allergy symptoms to look out for are itchy skin, swelling in your face, rashes, wheezing, hives appearing on your stomach, chest or back or anaphylaxis.

 

Diagnosis

An allergist will evaluate your medical history and may use both skin tests and blood tests to help determine whether you’ve developed a new allergy.

But diagnosing allergies in older adults can be more challenging, and in some cases symptoms are overlooked, since older people are likelier to have other chronic illness that may cause similar symptoms.

“We’ve seen that the picture is less clear on adults when we do skin testing than with children,” Ferrer notes.

 

Treatments

Congestion and a sore throat can be dangerous to an older adult with cardiovascular issues, so prompt treatment is important. If your allergy is airborne, your doctor will probably prescribe a nasal steroid or topical treatment.

Non-medical approaches that can help ease allergies include staying indoors as much as possible during pollen season, and changing your clothes or showering after being outdoors when there’s pollen in the air. Ferrer also recommends ridding your home of the allergens that accumulate there by regularly changing out air filters.

For those with a food allergy, be sure to avoid contact with the food proteins that are causing the allergic reaction. Make sure to read any labels on the food you buy to ensure you’re not unknowingly ingesting anything you’re allergic to. When dining at restaurants, you should always ask about what’s in the dish you’re considering before you order. It’s also a good idea to have an auto-injectable epinephrine emergency medication (such as an EpiPen) for anaphylaxis with you at all times.

Meanwhile, Griesse advises making dietary changes to help alleviate allergy symptoms. “The first step is to balance the immune system and check your diet,” he says. “Feeding the body nourishing, nutrient-filled foods will help detoxify and reduce inflammation.”

 

OutdoorsWalk

 

You already know that things like a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep are important to stay healthy, but if you’re like a lot of people, you may’ve overlooked the role of getting outdoors in maintaining your health.

If you’re a senior, venturing outside of the house is just what the doctor ordered in many cases and may even help prevent future health issues. A number of studies have demonstrated the positive impacts of being outdoors on older adults’ health.

With winter in the rearview and warmer weather on its way, there’s no better time than now to reap the body and mind benefits, including those listed here, of getting outside.

1. Being outside is a mood-booster.

There’s just something about being outside and enjoying the sunshine, a warm breeze, or the smell of fresh-cut grass that causes innate pleasure and enhances your mood.

Light in itself tends to elevate a person’s mood, and in almost every case there’s more natural light available outdoors than there is inside the house. Meanwhile, physical activity often relaxes and cheers people up, so exercising outdoors has double the benefit.

Another positive effect that exercise has on senior health is that it reduces the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) in your blood, while also lowering your blood pressure and pulse rate.

Additionally, researchers in England say that exercising even five minutes outdoors is enough to improve mood and self-esteem.

2. You’ll exercise more.

Not that you have to be outdoors to exercise – millions of people work out in gyms or at home using following along to videos or on at-home stationary bikes and the like. But research suggests that those who get outside tend to be more active overall.

Indeed, rather than spending a beautiful day sitting at the computer or in front of the television, why not spend it outside walking, gardening, biking, working in your yard, or other activities that keep your body moving?

3. You’ll increase your levels of vitamin D.

Why is vitamin D important for senior health? Research shows that this vitamin may have greater disease-fighting powers than others. For example, studies have shown that ‘D’ provides protection against heart attacks, strokes, depression, cancer, and other serious health issues, according to a statement from Harvard Medical School.

The good news is that you can get much of the vitamin D you need just by being outside in the sunshine for 10 to 15 minutes a day. That’s because sunlight hitting the skin leads to the creation of the biologically active form of vitamin D.

There are some things to keep in mind when it comes to vitamin D, however:

  • Vitamin D production is lower for people who are over 65. Skin color also affects vitamin D levels (African Americans have about half the levels of vitamin D than Caucasians).
  • While providing needed protection, many sunscreens block UVB light – which helps generate vitamin D in the skin. However, being outside while supplementing with vitamin D pills will help keep your levels high.

4. Being outside can improve concentration and cognitive health.

If you have trouble concentrating, getting out in nature may offer a solution. In one study, people who took a walk in nature scored higher on a proofreading task than those who walked through a city or who did neither.

A recent study conducted by the University of Kansas showed that even older adults in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can benefit from frequent walks outdoors. The study found that even brisk walks could lead to better physical functioning and slower cognitive decline among early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

Additionally, being in nature – and even just looking at pictures of nature – helps restore mental energy. Natural beauty may also elicit feelings of awe, which can in turn help ease mental fatigue.

5. Getting outdoors helps boost immunity.

Multiple studies have shown that being outside boosts while blood cell counts and that the effect can last for several days. In a 2005 study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, meanwhile, spinal surgery patients were found to have less pain and needed fewer medications when exposed to natural light.

Clearly, getting outdoors provides many positive benefits to senior health – physically, mentally, and terms of long-term health. With spring now upon us, there’s no better time to get outdoors and give your health an overall boost.

 

 

OutdoorPatio

 

With spring fever and the first warm-weather days of the year, we all suddenly want to be outdoors—and that includes the elderly adults in your life. As you open up outdoor living spaces to ready them for the change in seasons, it’s the perfect time to consider senior safety.

The patio, deck or garden sitting area everyone loves might be the perfect oasis for most, but can actually include some hazards for seniors. Whether you want to help an older loved one upgrade their home, or are preparing your own home for your golden years, making some key modifications can help ensure you stay safe while enjoying the outdoors. Keep this senior safety checklist in mind as you prepare your home for an enjoyable spring and summer.

1. Prevent Slippery Spots

It’s easy for a patio or deck surface to become slippery from rainwater. Grab your hose and rinse off the surface. Carefully walk around and check for any slippery areas. If you find some, try one of these remedies:

  • Thoroughly clean the slippery area, as sometimes this will improve the surface texture. If needed, use a cleaner designed for your surface that will remove algae and mildew, which tend to be slippery.
  • Apply non-slip paint to your clean surface. These types of textured finishes add a non-slip coating to a patio, deck, porch or step.
  • Add non-slip doormats inside of the patio door to catch moisture. Wiping feet thoroughly can help prevent falls when moving in from the damp patio to the house.
  • Put down a non-slip indoor/outdoor mat or runner to create a safe walking path.

2. Get a Grip

Stepping up or down to go outside can easily throw someone off balance. Even if the step-out is nearly flat, such as stepping over sliding door tracks, it can be a hazard. Add a grab bar on the inside and outside of the patio door to boost safety for seniors and visitors of all ages. This will allow them to steady themselves.

If there are a few steps involved or even a ramp, be sure there is a steady handrail to hold onto. Make sure neither the ramp nor steps are slippery. Anti-slip stair treads or tape, designed to be used outdoors, can be applied to these areas.

3. Clear the Clutter

Taking a trip outdoors shouldn’t involve a trip and fall. When setting up your outdoor living area for warm weather use, clear all hazards out of walking paths.

  • Move flowerpots away from walking paths. Keep them close by so that your older loved one can still water and tend to them, but not so close that they become a trip hazard.
  • Add a hose reel so to keep hoses out of the way.
  • Place a plastic bin by the door to hold clogs and garden shoes so they’re not loose, creating a fall hazard.
  • Stow away garden tools. Tuck necessary items, such as the dog’s water dish, well outside of the natural walking path.
  • Trim back any shrubs or tree branches jutting into walking areas or interfering with handrails.

4. Choose Steady Furniture

Keep elderly loved ones safe by providing sturdy and steady patio furniture. Lightweight folding lawn chairs, while easily transported, may move or fall over when someone tries to sit in them. Choose heavy, stable pieces for your older loved one to lounge in.

Be aware of the many different moving furniture pieces for a patio—a porch swing, glider rockers, swivel chairs and more—can be a hazard for someone unsteady or who needs to support themselves on the arms to sit or stand. A comfortable, cushioned chair or chaise lounge is a safer spot for your elderly loved one.

5. Be Bright at Night

As evenings become balmy, it’s nice to sit out and watch the sunset. But before heading outside to do that, be make sure there’s adequate lighting for walking on the patio and going back in and out. A dawn to dusk timer or motion-activated light means you and your older loved ones won’t need to remember to turn the lights on.

6. Keep Your Cool

Consider senior safety when it comes to the sun and heat. A large patio umbrella can provide needed shade to your home’s outdoor spaces, especially if there aren’t many trees. An umbrella that tilts will allow you to adjust the shade as the sun moves.

Be sure to follow commonsense senior safety tips in hot weather. These include applying sunblock, wearing sunglasses and a hat, avoiding the outdoors during the hottest part of the day and staying well hydrated. Hanging a basket near the patio door to hold sunblock, sunglasses and hat is a great visual reminder.

This six-item checklist isn’t very long or hard to do, but it will help seniors stay safe while enjoying your home’s outdoor spots. Taking these precautions can help keep outdoor living a joy for all.

Lea Schneider is both a backyard enthusiast and a professional organizer who writes for The Home Depot. She provides tips on creating a backyard that makes the most of your space, from using the right outdoor patio furniture for your lifestyle to creative storage solutions that hide outdoor clutter.

 

Snoozing

 

For those of us with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in our family history, forgetting names and misplacing keys is more than just a frustration – it can feel like a sign of what’s to come. But we are more than our genes and in fact, for the vast majority, it’s lifestyle choices that represent the biggest dementia risk factors.

Change is hard, and it’s unrealistic to try to completely transform your life just for the sake of making changes. A smarter move would be to take manageable steps that will actually make a provable impact. Taking a look at scientific evidence can help you make those changes.

Improve Your Daily Routine

From how you spend your daylight hours to how well you sleep at night, it’s your daily routine that impacts your health the most.

• Quit smoking. A daily habit of lighting up can be a dementia risk factor, research shows. In 2014, the World Health Organization found that smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. Be aware of second-hand smoke exposure too – it may increase your dementia risk by nearly the same amount as if you were holding the cigarette.

• Sleep better. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 50-70 million U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep. Studies suggest that slumber is essential to brain health. As you snooze, your brain resets and cleans out the hormones and chemicals it used during the day. One of the chemicals that is scrubbed away each night is amyloid-beta, a chemical that forms brain plaque – a key suspect in what causes Alzheimer’s.

• Exercise regularly. One of the signs of dementia is loss of brain mass. A 2013 study conducted by Maryland School of Public Health researchers tracked four groups of healthy adults aged 65-89 – those with high and low Alzheimer’s risk and those with high and low activity levels. Only one group lost brain mass – those who had both a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s and who also did not exercise.

Fuel Your Body

Your body and your brain run on what you consume. There is a significant amount of science on which foods can help reduce your dementia risk.

• Drink raw fruit and vegetable juices. A 2006 study from Vanderbilt University found that drinking fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week could cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76 percent.

• Eat less sugar. Diabetes may not cause Alzheimer’s directly, but the two diseases share the same root cause – the body not using insulin properly. According to research published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal in 2011, diabetics are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and have an increased risk of developing dementia of any kind.

• Eat more fish. Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against brain atrophy, which is associated dementia. An eight-year study lead by University of South Dakota researchers found that women with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood had 2.7 percent larger brain volume – that means their brain atrophied less. Plus, those who reported eating seafood at least once a week were less likely to have the dementia-related brain plaque.

Strengthen Your Brain

Protect your brain’s health by strengthening the areas often targeted by dementia.

• Learn a new language. In 2013, a study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal found that participants who spoke a second language developed dementia 4.5 years later than their monolingual counterparts.

• Do new things. Simply put, learning new skills helps enhance cognitive function. In a 2013 University of Texas at Dallas study, participants learned quilting or digital photography for three months. They found that no matter if the participants learned the skill alone or with others, their memory of past events was enhanced. The key is to find and spend time mastering new hobbies that make your brain think in new ways.

• Meditate. Meditation not only lowers stress – research suggests it can help reduce brain atrophy. A study from the Jena University Hospital in Germany found that the brains of people who meditated regularly appeared on average seven years younger than their true age.

Dementia is not inevitable. The studies highlighted here are just part of the evidence available that it’s possible to influence and change your dementia risk factors. Know the science so you can face dementia head-on.

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.

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.