When Living Alone is No Longer an Option

alzheimers-s12-light-switchMany of us live in Never Never Land: We’re never going to get old and we’re never going to need help. Of course, just the opposite is true. According to clinical bioethicist Viki Kind, author of the book “The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t,” “Only 10 percent of us get to die fast; the other 90 percent will endure long-term health issues.” So what do you do if your loved one can no longer live alone? That problem is all too real for Cathy. Her 83-year-old father lives alone in New York City. He’s been having difficulty remembering things, and a day before his planned trip to California for the holidays, he experienced a fall. He’s now in the hospital, and Cathy must help her father make decisions about his living arrangements. “I’m not even sure where to start,” Cathy said. “Should I move my dad near me or help him find a place in New York? What happens if he doesn’t want to move or have someone come to his home to help...

Be observant when visiting the elderly this holiday

friendsThe holidays are a wonderful time to visit family and friends— bringing the kids to see Grandma, visiting Aunt Betty or taking some homemade cookies to an elderly neighbor. If we just keep our eyes open during those visits, seniors can tell us a lot about their needs. Seventy-five-year-old Aunty Honey lived alone after her husband passed away. Amy visited her Aunty Honey each year while in Massachusetts to see her sister. But Amy’s visit last year was something altogether different. “At first glance I didn’t notice a thing” Amy said. “Aunty Honey was happy to see me; she was enthusiastic and shared stories of her childhood. Then I noticed Aunty Honey had a few stains on her dress. During our visit she offered me tea in a dirty cup, and the milk was out of date. “That was like a red flag to me,” Amy continued. “I began to look more closely and noticed she had some large bruises on her shins. I also noticed that she didn’t have her glasses on. I inquired about them, and Aunty...

Expect penalties if not enrolled in Medicare at 65

ComputerMany people consider April 15th the date to remember. We have to be on our toes at tax time because a late return could result in a penalty. As the first of the baby boomers turn 65 next year, Medicare will present them with new dates to remember and another set of penalties if they’re not on their toes. At a recent presentation of Medicare coverage choices, I watched the audience sit openmouthed in disbelief as they were told that not signing up for Medicare within the appropriate window could result in penalties for the lifetime of their coverage.So in the spirit of spreading the news to boomers nearing 65 who are overloaded with news and information, here are the simple facts about Medicare penalties. There are two main choices for coverage: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Medicare Part A is free for most enrollees, so everyone is encouraged to sign up. There is a seven-month window for enrolling: three months before your...

Encore Career

WomanReadingAre you looking for a career that combines income and purpose? Many folks on the other side of 50 have been thrust into exploring options outside their primary profession due to unemployment or a down economy; others, still in a job, are looking toward the day they can bid their boss a hearty goodbye and head off to their dream job. Whatever the motivation, a good dose of reality can lead to greater success in your encore career. This advice is from your author, who “found her calling” in her late 40s and today works a couple of dream jobs.Rule No. 1: Build a nest egg or learn to live on a lot less than you do now. This may seem obvious, but following your passion will most likely pay far less than your previous salary did. If you really want to be happy in your new career, create a financial plan that reflects this reality, or you can take the advice of my old accounting teacher, who said “Two can live as cheaply as one, if one doesn’t eat.” Rule No. 2: Test it out. There’s no...

Yesterday I heard a fact that frightened me

seniorsIn 10 years we will have twice the number of seniors in Thousand Oaks than we have today. Think about it—double the number of people at the Goebel Senior Center, twice the amount of people signed up for Social Security and double the amount of seniors needing information, resources and services from our city.Here’s another one for you: By 2020 Thousand Oaks will have more people over 65 than under 18. There’s plenty of people watching out for the under-18 crowd—parents, guidance counselors, teachers, coaches and, of course, Disney. But who’s looking out for the over-65 gang? They say that “experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” Ask any person over the age of 65 if they’ve encountered a situation for which they weren’t prepared. It may be as simple as how to sign up for Medicare or as complicated as how to make certain they don’t outlive their money. What if I told you there was an organization that has been right here in Thousand Oaks for more than...

The Many Dimensions of Loss and Grief

alzheimers-s2-woman-blinkingDuring this season’s first episode of TV’s “Dancing With the Stars,” actress Jennifer Grey surprised herself when she broke into tears upon hearing the song she and her partner would be dancing to. It was a song from the movie “Dirty Dancing,” which evoked strong memories of her friend and co-star Patrick Swayze, who died last year of complications from pancreatic cancer. Grey’s strong reaction, more than a year after her friend’s death, was normal. The song may have brought her back to a time when she and Swayze worked closely together on the film, allowing her to grieve the loss of her friend all over again.Almost everyone who’s lost someone they care for can describe a moment where a song, object or even a smell triggered a memory of the deceased and reignited feelings of loss and grief. As humans, our grief knows few boundaries. How well or long we knew the person cannot predict the intensity of our grief. We might grieve for someone we have known for a long time, such as a...

Disaster preparedness for those with dementia

alzheimers-s3-old-womanIf you’re age 60 or above, you’ve probably experienced more than one disaster. Earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides are more common in our neck of the woods; hurricanes, ice storms and tornadoes occur in other parts of the country. Wherever you or your loved ones live, a disaster can happen anytime, anywhere, and anyplace to anyone. Older adults can be assets during a disaster, using their experience, good judgment and resilience to help others. However, some older adults, such as those with dementia, are particularly vulnerable during a disaster.Since one in eight people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there’s a high probability that if you’re involved in a disaster, you’ll likely be in the proximity of an older person with reduced cognitive functioning. Emergency-preparedness experts have begun to recognize the special needs of older adults with dementia following a disaster. Whether your loved one lives in a residential facility, by themselves in a...

Calling all couch potatoes . . .

couch-potatoYes, I mean you in front of the TV, you in front of the computer, you sitting in your armchair reading and you whiling away the day playing Sudoku. If the majority of your week is spent with sporadic or no physical activity, you are a couch potato. According to “American Word Origins,” few terms of our generation have an exact date of creation, but “couch potato” is one that does.In 1976, according to its trademark registration, Tom Iacino of Pasadena used the phrase “boob tubers” in a phone conversation when referring to people relaxing in front of the TV. He then substituted the word potato as a synonym for tuber. Picturing where a potato might sit watching the tube, Iacino came up with the term “couch potato,” and the rest is history. Actually, it was Iacino’s friend Bob Armstrong, another member of the “boob tubers,” who drew a cartoon of a potato on a couch, registered the trademark and made money selling couch potato Tshirts, books and newsletters. Goes to show you,...

It Takes a Village

An old African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The implication is that raising a child is not only the parents’ responsibility, but also the community’s. Now dozens of neighborhoods in the U.S. are proudly declaring, “It takes a village to support our seniors,” and we’re excited about it. The senior “village” movement began in 2001 in the Beacon Hill section of Boston. Like many neighborhoods, this particular one had begun with a mix of single-family homes housing parents who worked and raised their children. As the neighborhood aged, so did its residents.Some in Beacon Hill began to think about ways they could get services to come to them rather than their having to move to retirement or assisted living communities. Working with a nonprofit organization, they created their own Naturally Occurring Retirement Community or NORC (rhymes with “fork”). Through dues and grants their neighborhood has services similar to those found in most retirement communities:...

The Mid-Life Crisis Returns

Leave it to the boomer generation to reinvent one more thing. As children, they reinvented the housing market: Their parents moved to the suburbs, leaving the city for safer neighborhoods and homes with enough space to give each child his or her own bedroom. Boomer girls now had the privacy to talk on their Princess phones and boomer boys the ideal space to play with their Hot Wheels. As young adults, boomers reinvented the shopping experience. The first enclosed shopping mall opened the year the oldest boomer turned 10, an age when children become independent shoppers. Their generational love affair with Spencer Gifts and Orange Julius began. Now in their mid-40s to 60s, boomers yet again have reinvented an American institution: the midlife crisis. Yep, we all remember someone who bought a red Porsche or a blue Corvette. We’ve seen a colleague buy a timeshare in some grand vacation spot, and we’ve a seen friend pick up a new hobby, like sky diving. Each of these...

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