Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Senior Housing Options, A Real Puzzle

What's the difference between Assisted Living Facility, Independent Living, Adult Day Care, Adult Foster Care, Congregate Housing, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Life Care Communities, Nursing Homes or Facilities, Residential Care, Respite Care, Senior Apartments, Senior Housing, Personal Care Facility, and Skilled Nursing Facility?   

Some are different names for the same thing.  Some are poles apart in the level of care.

You're not alone if  senior housing options and the vocabulary that accompanies them make you want to jump off a bridge.   

Check out The Senior Living Guide.  What definitions are lacking there , you can find in The Senior Housing Net.  This excellent link:
1. Helps to evaluate your needs in terms of mobility, nutrition, hygiene, housekeeping, dressing, toileting, medications, mental status and behavioral status,  
2. Provides you with appropriate housing options, including services, costs, regulations, payment options, and level of care,
4. Supplies helpful checklists to evaluate each housing option, 
3. Finds the right community depending on your city and state.

Don't fret.  Help is only a mouse-click away. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Estate Planning As A Gift To Your Children

Thanks, Mom, for painstakingly sorting through your stuff before I have to.  Thanks for having the foresight to give away things while you are present in our lives and can witness how your children and grandchildren use precious family heirlooms.  

I know this process doesn't happen without consequences.  How you want your things distributed might be radically different from the way your offspring thinks (feelings might get hurt; jealousy or envy might surface).  It takes stamina and guts to divide your belongings the way you want and I applaud the manner with which you handled it all with dignity and grace.  

Too often children are left with the enormous job of  cleaning up the home after parents die. Coupled with shock and grief, sons and daughters are saddled with the additional burden of putting financial affairs in order and disposing of real and personal estate. 

Aging parents who clean up their affairs and  who clarify how and where they want their personal items distributed--eliminating some of the emotional toll on their children--epitomize one way to prove their love.  


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving Into a Retirement Community

Mom didn't have to say anything about selling her home of 40 years and moving into a retirement community.  She didn't have to say anything because everything was written on her face.   Having family closeby quieted some of her fears but losing most things familiar--your home, your friends, your hang-outs, your doctors, and facing the last stage of your life wreaks havoc with emotions.   

For four nights Mom and Auntie Peggy sampled a very different kind of living, vastly different from their primarily solitary unscheduled routines.  The reality that this was not their usual vacation but a major life change sobered their outlook.  More than ever, they scrutinized the living accommodations (tiny), the food (good but not great), and the people (very, very nice).

I, too, was anxious about the visit.  I pondered what I could do to make the imminent transition as painless as possible.  Here's what I did:

1. I planned dinner and tea with my friends and acquaintances and their resident mothers both on and off site.

2. I put lots of snacks into the refrigerator (it's no good contemplating a move on an empty stomach!).

3. I requested that the administration display my invitation to all residents that Mom (her sister-in-law, daughter, grandson, wife, and 2 great-granddaughters) would like to meet them on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the pool.  Refreshments would be provided (by me).  I also indicated that Mom liked to play bridge and pan, bowl, and that she could drive.

Knowing that some events conflicted, I prepared Mom for small if any attendance.   But I was surprised and pleased to find  8-10 men and women who attended.  These people, I suspect, will become her core of new friends as she adjusts to a new life.  

Friday, July 18, 2008

Surviving Colon Cancer

My cousin Eve began her last round of chemo.  In spite of the neuropathy and other bothersome side effects, her spirits were high.  Her twin daughters just turned 5.  

Then she read about Tony Snow who died from a relapse of colon cancer.  

In all her efforts to fight her cancer including acupuncture, natural medicine, mental healing, and just keeping occupied with everyday life, Eve avoided the one constant fear among survivors: The enemy can and often does slyly and maliciously creep back into your life without notice.

"I hear from many survivors that eventually this all-consuming worry lessens and isn't a part of your daily existence.  Some people have told me that they now go weeks--even months--without thinking about cancer.  That's hard to imagine now but I look forward to that day."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Swimming For Juniors and Seniors

You're with your grandchild.  Right or wrong, you want to influence his/her life in a positive direction, maybe help out your kids fill in the areas they don't have time for.

So you spend time (lots of it) with the young 'un.  Haley loves the pool.  She doesn't necessarily want to learn to use her arms and legs properly.  She just wants to have fun.  

In order to earn her wages, the instructor wants to make Haley water-safe--no more relying on the floaties or other swimming aids.   She urges Haley to dunk her face, float, and coordinate all her movements into a lose definition of swimming.

I want more.  You see, my mom made sure I had an excellent swimming teacher, Mr. Green. During the year he taught public school.  In the summer he taught dog-paddlers how to make handstrokes and kicking meld into perfect swimming form.  

I don't remember if I gave the teacher any flak.  All I do remember is that my form is perfect to this day.

So what if Haley doesn't like the teacher?  What if she "fires" her?  What if she makes mom's life pure hell if she doesn't cancel the lessons?

Some things are just too bad.  Some things kids just gotta do choice or no choice.  Sometimes enticements help ("Well, if you do well, we'll ______") and then sometimes it's "Sorry, honey, I know you don't want to do this" and then insist on compliance.

We're talking safety, we're talking tenacity, we're talking getting past the fear, we're talking putting in the effort, we're talking facing failure, and we're talking real life.  And in the end, they'll thank you for it. 


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Financial Planning for Boomers and Seniors

Bob dropped the article onto my desk chair while I was off doing something else.  This is his nonverbal pattern of telling me that my readers might want to learn about the particular content.

He's right, of course...sometimes more often than I care to admit!

According to the article, the University of Pennsylvania offers an extensive directory of finance and investment websites for market analysis, bonds, corporate financials, mutual funds, and numerous other investment topics.  

Take the link from"Personal Finance Websites. " AARP's "Financial Planning and Retirement" is divided into subsections:  Creating a Plan, Checking, Budgeting and Record Keeping, Saving Money, Insurance, Investing, Retirement Planning, and Who Can Help You.   Kudos to AARP for enabling the user to increase or decrease font size while explaining each term in the most basic language.  

MSN Money provides excellent personal tools to calculate income, expenses, and  life-expectancy.  

Smart Money makes suggestions on last-minute retirement planning.  

And if you want professional help with financial planning, you might not want to miss a prior blog.   

Finally, should you run into Bob soon, don't forget to thank him for this information.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baby Boomers, Preserve Your Memories

Marcia is the Amiable Archivist. She took a 14-week class with me. While I decided to create a website dedicated to the 50-something lifestyle, her interests steered her toward chronicling other person's memories.

Why write down or collect photos about the past?

I can only speak from my own experience: Dad died about 6 years ago. Now mom is moving out of her home of 40 years. Emotions are flooding our senses as we sift through all the remnants of lives once lived. Memories once fresh in our collective minds have faded somewhat. Details are less precise. And contrary to what I perceived my post-50 years to be, my life is not only incredibly busy, it is slipping by.
Marcia's job is to get us to focus on preserving our memories and capture them for our children and grandchildren. She unfolds our stories in digital format. And she's "amiable" too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Camping For Seniors

We didn't camp with our kids. Big mistake. I remember the overnights at sleep-away camp, tucked away in our sleeping bags after a roast and singalong around the campfire. The mountain air was crisp and fragrant with the scent of pine trees.

This weekend I am taking my 4 1/2 year old granddaughter to Yosemite. We'll hike and swim and drink in the beauty. Maybe I'll pack a kite, a blow-up ball, her Big Wheels, and a lot of snacks. We'll barbecue with a large group of friends who are also bringing about a dozen kids, toddlers to teens.

But I can't say I don't feel some trepidation. Maybe like some of you out there.

The article The Changing Fact of Outdoor Enthusiasts--Senior Citizens, explains that many over 50 year olds don't explore the great outdoors because of perceived cost, a lack of experience, and fear.

Yet the U.S. Forest Service reports that older adults are visiting national parks in increasing numbers. Some campgrounds, I've learned, even exchange visitor hosting services for free camping.

Elderhostel programs which focus on outdoor adventure activities have also mushroomed in popularity. More and more itineraries are including rafting, rock climbing, hiking and canoeing among outdoor activities.

Believe me, folks, if I, the consummate motel/hotel/inn/B&B lady, can take the baby step towards outdoor exploration, so can you.

Check out the Senior Pass, an inexpensive lifetime pass providing access to recreation areas governed by five federal agencies to U.S. citizens and permanent residents over 62.

Reserve your place under the stars while exploring our great continent.

And wish me luck!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Sleep is a common problem among boomers and seniors. Not addressing it could not only be disastrous medically and socially, it could be life-threatening.

Sleeping better helps you perform at optimal levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Are you getting a good night's sleep?

Learn the tips for good sleeping.

Know what's in the drugs you take and even the recommended time of day to take them.

Identify the signs, symptoms, tools and assessments available for people struggled with sleep disorders.

If all else fails, speak to the Sleep Doctor.

And don't let the bedbugs bite.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Helping the Caregiver

Oftentimes parents are reluctant to leave the familiarity and comfort of their own home even if they are aware of their incapacities. Numerous assistive devices and services are currently available to help to deal with eating, dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, mobility, and taking medicine.

But what if they can no longer function in all the areas with or without assistive devices.

Wouldn't it be nice if all the services you could possibly want for mom or dad were listed in one place? This way you could indicate exactly what you'd want a caregiver to provide so your parents could remain where they are most relaxed, at home.

Well, good news!

At the website for Home Instead Senior Care duties are divided into three categories: companionship services, home helper services, and personal services. According to this company, all caregivers are thoroughly screened, extensively trained, insured and bonded, matched to your preferences, and reliable.

I don't have personal experience with Home Instead but I approve their professionalism. It appears that this company can also serve the unique needs of those suffering Alzheimer's or dementia by maintaining a safe environment, managing changing behaviors, providing mind-stimulating activities, and creating social interaction.

Should you choose to be the primary caregiver yourself, use an informative website which offers ways to cope with your own stress including getting respite (relief) care.

Be sure to check out benefits your parents may qualify for.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ways to Continue Learning in the Golden Years

I anxiously awaited the Toastmasters meeting today. I hadn't volunteered to present this week so I could relax and enjoy the meeting.

When the 3 speeches and 3 evaluations concluded, the Table Topics master got her opportunity to stump several unsuspecting participants by forcing them to think quickly on their feet in response to her question or circumstance.

I imagined myself eloquently and silently answering "world record" questions posed that day to other members:
Being in a pit with the most rattlesnakes
Pulling the heaviest object
Escaping from handcuffs underwater in record time

"Susan," I heard with a jolt. "How were you able to make the most parachute jumps in a single day?"

Immediately I had an outer body experience.

I was witnessing the person painfully struggling to formulate an answer, hoping and praying that the upcoming speaker wasn't me.

"I was going on a safari," I began, "When I stopped at a 7-11 for a Red Bull and scuba gear, readying myself to observe and test-drive a camel."

Within moments I was beyond salvation. My story was getting more and more outlandish with no end in sight. I had flashbacks to stumbling my way through oral reports in high school over forty years ago.

I tried to will myself back into the security of my bed this morning fantasizing about the upcoming meeting. Going to the dentist (or being in a pit filled with rattlesnakes) held more appeal than the predicament I found myself in.

Toastmasters is delightful, educational, and entertaining. It can also be a major lesson in humility.