Holiday donations honor elderly loved ones

SCLogoIt’s a humbling experience to walk the halls of Senior Concerns during the holidays. Almost every day there is some act of kindness that catches your heart and makes you realize what a great community we live in. A few days ago a student group brought in a big batch of frozen cookie dough from a school fundraiser.  This generous and creative student group expanded their own fundraiser to support another organization in their own community. Anyone who donated to the fundraiser had the option to donate their dough to the Senior Concerns Meals on Wheels program. Last week a gentleman brought in a check for $500. At the holidays his church offers a donation to a charity making a difference in Ventura County. He explained to the front desk staff that his church’s gesture was especially moving to him because his wife had been a participant in Senior Concern’s Adult Day program for a number of years before her passing. Yesterday a member of the Westlake Rotary brought in a set of raffle...

Being there when you are far away

old and young hands j0407497My parents were in their 60s when I moved to California, which is 3,000 miles away from “home.” Caring for my aging parents long distance wasn’t even a consideration at that time. As the years passed, my dad developed Parkinson’s and my mom became his full-time caregiver. Had I lived close by, I would have been there for doctor visits and to help with meals and my dad’s care. It wasn’t that they needed an in-home caregiver as much as they needed someone to guide them through the maze of decisions they were making as my dad’s condition progressed and my mom’s ability to care for him declined. I was fortunate enough to know about a hidden gem of a resource—a geriatric care manager (GCM). I often describe them as “life arrangers for the elderly.” Generally speaking, they are nurses or social workers who have dedicated their practices to helping families caring for older adults. Four years ago I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Geriatric...

When seniors need help managing finances

For the past eight years Shirley, age 77, has been handling the family finances for herself and her husband Joe. A former CPA, Joe had handled the couple’s money, but the tremors from his Parkinson’s restricted his ability to write checks or use online banking and the mild dementia Joe experiences left him confused with the daily details of managing finances. Recently, Shirley shared with her best friend that she was feeling stressed about handling the couple’s financial affairs. The couple’s CDs were maturing and Shirley didn’t have a good idea of how or where to invest the proceeds. She was also having difficulty deciphering their medical insurance statements. In the past if she had questions Shirley would call her nephew, but he’d recently moved out of the area. She figured she needed some help soon, before she made some irreversible mistakes. Shirley is representative of the 29 percent of seniors (studies vary) who require assistance handling their money and financial...

Dementia and UTIs

5487078-portrait-of-a-senior-woman-with-a-confused-expressionIt seemed to happen overnight. Andrea entered the assisted living facility to join her 94-year-old mother for casino night. Unable to find her at the event, Andrea went to her mother’s room. She was shocked by what she saw. Her mom was sitting on her bed wearing half her wardrobe— two summer dresses, pants, multiple shirts and sweaters, many scarves and lots of pieces of jewelry. “I asked Mom why she had on all those clothes. She seemed confused and couldn’t give me an explanation,” Andrea said. “I asked her why she wasn’t at the casino night event, and she began to get agitated. Up until this point, my mom was of sound mind.” In another case, 77-year-old Barbara, who is a full-time caregiver for her husband, woke up one morning so dizzy she had difficulty getting out of bed. When she tried to phone her daughter, she couldn’t remember the number. When she finally did reach her daughter and told her what was wrong, Barbara couldn’t find the right words to answer her daughter’s...

Are we as old as we feel?

injured handThe little cul-de-sac in the neighborhood where I live is falling apart. Not the streets, the driveways nor the houses, but the people. Just like me, most of my neighbors are on the other side of 50. Collectively we have been sharing a number of non-lifethreatening ailments and injuries that would keep a small cadre of doctors, pharmacists and physical therapists busy for the next year. The wear-and-tear injuries seem to be numerous—torn rotator cuffs, torn Achilles tendons and carpal tunnel syndrome. Whether from repetitive motion at work or play, after 50-plus years our bodies are finally talking back to us. It’s a sign of the times—while watering lawns, conversations turn to sharing the names of our favorite physical therapists. Next, we have the broken bones, quite often due to a fall. Now give us some credit as you read this—we are able-bodied people who generally don’t have issues with falling unless we have one too many chardonnays. Indeed our unsteadiness comes from a...

Retirement community of the future

volunteerRecently, a Seattle-based hospitality company, One Eighty, announced plans to convert the former hospital site at 4415 S. Lakeview Canyon Road in Westlake Village into a boutique-style retirement community. If Dan Madsen, CEO of One Eighty, is listening, here’s one boomer’s advice on how to make the facility succeed. No. 1: Connect residents with the city around them Trips to the farmers market and the Civic Arts Plaza are nice, but what I’m talking about is providing retirement community residents the opportunity to really become involved in their local community. Invite city officials to discuss important topics, create a help desk that pairs talented residents with community needs and align with local elementary and high schools for mentoring. Encourage residents to create a project where residents and their neighbors work together to improve life in our city. There is so much talent in residential communities that goes unnoticed and unused. Programs like these bring...

Stay up-to-date on Medicare changes

Senior-woman-confused-365rr021810A recent study says that more than half of seniors over age 60 find Medicare confusing or don’t understand it at all Boomers are nervous, indifferent or uneducated about Medicare. Ten thousand boomers a day are eligible for Medicare, the largest growth ever in the history of the program. A recent study by United Healthcare and the National Council on Aging says that more than half of seniors over age 60 find Medicare confusing or they don’t understand it at all. Most respondents were not able to accurately identify what each part of Medicare covers. Only a third correctly identified Part A as helping to cover hospital care. Less than a quarter knew that Part B helps to cover doctor visits. More than two-thirds did not know that Part C offers an all-in-one program that helps cover hospital care, doctor visits and prescription drugs. And half had not heard of the “doughnut hole” in Part D prescription drug coverage. Nineteen percent of those enrolled in the program did...

Ending well

ALZHEIMERS CAREIn advance of California Healthcare Decisions Week, Oct. 23 to 29, Dr. Lanyard Dial, CEO and medical director of Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurses Association, has written this week’s The Other Side of 50 column. Unlike earlier generations, odds are that many of us will die a slow death, often mixed with periods of isolation and loss of personal dignity. Would this be your choice? Is there a way to end your life well? It is my belief that we have a choice to alter this path and find an alternative end to our life, an end that we choose. How? With the help of the medical professionals in Palliative Care and Hospice. The American healthcare system today is magnificent. We have access to many vaccinations, antibiotics and medications that can treat virtually any disease that afflicts us. We have superior techniques to provide surgical cures and treatments for many illnesses. We can transplant new organs into our bodies when ours are so diseased that they no longer work. We can...

The definition of home may change as we age

AssistedLivingNewThe word “home” has personal meaning for most people. A home may convey a sense of family, security, comfort, independence and even financial freedom. Often as we age, transitions in our lives may directly impact our housing choices. Divorce or loss of a spouse may prompt us to look for a home that better suits our individual needs. Changes in our health status—the onset of an illness or disability— may trigger the need for a different type of living arrangement. A desire to live closer to family sometimes means a move. Entering retirement often gives individuals the freedom to make new housing choices. And changes in financial status often influence decisions on the type of lifestyle and home we can sustain. According to Christine Kennedy of the Institute for Age-Friendly Housing, “Individuals in the second half of life often do not consider housing changes until at least one life transition occurs.” In an AARP poll, 80 percent of those over 50 say they want to age in...

Are you ready to be edutained?

richard simmonsEdutainment is the art of combining education and entertainment. Those of us on the other side of 50 can learn how to navigate new possibilities and the complexities of getting older while having some fun at the same time. Oh, yes, one more thing—it’s all happening Thurs. through Sat., Sept. 22 to 24 in Los Angeles. AARP will host Life@50+, a three-day event at the L.A. Convention Center designed to educate and entertain thousands of older adults from around the country. The event is a hodge-podge of programs. You can begin your day with morning fitness sessions with Martina Navratilova or Richard Simmons. In case you were wondering, Simmons says he’s “still sweatin’ after all these years.” Take in “Movies for Grownups” such as “The King’s Speech” and “50/50” or attend the Sept. 23 premiere of “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Enjoy feature sessions with celebrities such as Carol Burnett with Tim Conway, Tim Gunn of “Project Runway,” Leeza Gibbons, Kareem...

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