Monthly Archives: July 2017

Here’s a tool to plan for late-life what-ifs

A website for older adults by older adults

By Kevyn Burger for Next Avenue

Seniors have a lot to say about thier options for care.

Jane Curry used Plan Your Lifespan to think through her contingencies in case health issues diminish her independence.

Jane Curry, of Chicago, settled into a retirement community a few years ago, where she found friends and support. It was part of her preparation to age in place in a home of her own. But the now-75-year-old widow knew that taking a fall could play havoc with her ability to stay in her second-story condo.

“My balance is off more as I’ve gotten older,” she admitted. “That frightens me.”

At 14, Curry developed a rare form of cancer in the connective tissue of her wrist. In the 1950s, her only option was to have her left arm amputated. “I was so young when it happened that I adapted and I’ve been able to live my life without thinking about it too much,” she said. But now, Curry worries that being an amputee increases the likelihood she could take a tumble. read more

9 ways family caregivers can get a break

Here’s how to get respite care, and sometimes get help paying for it

By Sherri Snelling for Next Avenue

Finding respite care is an important part of caring for the caregiver.

Credit: Adobe Stock – Many Presbyterian Manors campuses offer caregiver support groups or respite care services.

“Respite care” can be a little difficult to understand. The words don’t make it clear who is being helped. The “care” goes to the person who needs it due to illness or disability. The “respite” — a chance to rest and recharge — goes to the family member or other volunteer who would normally be on the spot, doing the caring. As for who gets helped by this? Everybody does.

“If family caregivers don’t take the time needed to care for themselves, we will face an additional health care crisis,” says Lily Sarafan, CEO of California-based Home Care Assistance, which provides support services including respite care. “Caregiver burnout can be associated with serious health issues including depression, and yet burnout is still not recognized as a real health issue in the eyes of many caregivers. Families and communities need to develop sustainable care plans that do not just rely on a single individual.” read more

Write down those special grandparent moments

How to keep a journal or blog so you can both share memories

By Patricia Corrigan for Next Avenue

Sharing your hopes and dreams for your grandchildren can become a treasured gift.

Credit: ThinkStock – You can record your thoughts and memories as a keepsake for your grandchildren.

So many boomers are finding delight in nurturing grandchildren — and most of us also are amazed that they do grow up quickly. That rarely seemed the case when we were bringing up our own kids.

A traditional baby book stuffed with baby shower napkins, pink or blue ribbons and photos seems a bit outdated in this digital age, though many of us do make them for our grandchildren.

Another option is a journal.

You can write it on the computer and call it a blog, or on paper and call it a diary. Either way, recording special moments will help you recall every heartfelt emotion from the early days, months or years — depending on long you keep writing. Plus, you will have something meaningful to share with your grandchild when he or she is old enough. read more

Keeping older people safe in the summer heat

Make sure you know the signs of life-threatening heat stroke

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

Avoiding heat stroke is important for seniors who may be taking medicines that make them more susceptible.

Credit: Thinkstock – Know the signs of heat stroke and how to avoid it.

If you’ve ever lived in a hot place without air conditioning, you know how miserable it can be. But getting overheated is more than just unpleasant for older people. It can be dangerous, and even deadly.

That’s why it is important to be aware of the risks of hyperthermia, or overheating of the body, especially if you care for an older parent or have elderly neighbors. Hyperthermia includes heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness or fainting), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and — the most serious — heat stroke. read more

9 ways to help your spouse with a sleep apnea machine

A CPAP will result in better sleep for both of you

By Madeline Vann for Next Avenue

A CPAP machine can improve sleep quality.

Credit: Adobe Stock – Sleeping with a CPAP machine can improve how both you and your partner sleep.

If your spouse has sleep apnea, his or her CPAP machine for it could save your sleep, health, and marriage. But first you need to find effective ways to help and support your husband or wife.

Whatever you do, don’t suggest that the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine makes your spouse less desirable, advises sleep medicine expert Dr. Patricia Patterson, medical director of the UAB Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in Birmingham, Ala. You’ll have to find a delicate balance between helping, encouraging and focusing on the benefits rather than nagging or offering a cold shoulder. read more

Is it time to downsize your dog?

A big dog can cause a fall, so the next one will be smaller

By Jane Gross for Next Avenue

Jane Gross and Henry, her standard poodle.

Credit: Courtesy of Jane Gross – Jane and her dog, Henry, a 10-year-old standard poodle.

Henry is a 10-year-old standard poodle, weighs 50 pounds, stands 2-feet-3-inches tall and has liver cancer. I am a 67-year-old woman, 5-feet-tall and tipping the scales at 85 pounds — with brittle bones, bad eyes and bursitis in my shoulder.

This dog is the first I’ve ever had and he’s taught me unexpected lessons about being responsible for another living creature and what it means to experience unconditional love. He sleeps on my bed and licks my face when I cry, which I do anytime I think about losing him. read more

5 commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed conditions in older adults

Certain diseases are often mistaken for others. Know the differences.

By Frieda Wiley, PharmD for Next Avenue

Sometimes it's not just your age that's ailing you.

Credit: ThinkStock Learn the signs and symptoms of five commonly misdiagnosed or overlooked conditions in people age 50 and older.

It’s no mystery that time and medical conditions may accelerate changes in our bodies as we age. Eventually, some of those changes might make it more difficult to distinguish between certain conditions and the actual process of getting older.

Not only do some illnesses present differently with time, but the signs and symptoms of many of them actually start to mimic each other, making a correct diagnosis more difficult.

Here are five commonly misdiagnosed or overlooked conditions in people 50 and older along with their signs and symptoms to help guide your discussion with your doctor: read more

How to declare your financial independence

Tips from a man who did, plus apps and sites that can help you

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

You can achieve financial independence

Learn five tips for declaring your financial independence.

(Next Avenue is republishing this 2014 blog post, timed to July 4th.)

As the 4th of July nears, what better time to talk about a few ways that could help people in their 50s or 60s declare their financial independence within the next few years?

You may have noticed that the goal of “financial independence” and its close cousin “financial freedom” seem to be replacing the traditional goal of “retirement.”

“Freedom and freedom money really resonate a lot more than ‘retirement’ when we do focus groups,” said Chris Brown, a partner at the Hearts & Wallets financial services market research firm. read more