The Most Common In-Home Injuries for Seniors and How to Prevent Them

Article by HomeAdvisor

As we age, we strive to keep the independence we gained throughout our lives. This is no easy task. Bodies become worn and weakening from years of use. Our brains are full of a lifetime of experiences and information, causing our cognitive functions to slow. Illness and injury, be it temporary or terminal, seem to find us more often than others.

Fortunately, for most of us, the same ambition that drove us toward independence as children will drive us to keep it as long as possible into and throughout our senior years. Whatever your motivation–whether you’re recovering from your first age-related injury in the hospital or more of your friends have moved into assisted living homes–staying at home can make the transition into twilight years easier.

Common Illnesses & Injuries Affecting Seniors

As we age, our ability to care for ourselves begins to diminish. This happens slowly at first, and you may start to notice that bruises last longer, or small cuts take longer to heal. These issues become more pronounced and frequent as we get older. There are a number of common conditions that affect seniors, such as:

  • Cataracts

  • Glaucoma

  • Macular Degeneration

  • Arthritis

  • Osteoporosis

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

  • Incontinence

  • Dementia

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Lung disease

  • Shingles

Your doctor will check you for many of these conditions, as well as any complications that may arise each time you visit. It is also important to understand that decreased visual acuity and mobility that may result from these or other conditions related to aging can lead to injuries if you don’t take precautions. The most common injuries experienced by seniors who still live independently include:

  • Car accidents

  • House fires

  • Falls (which may result in brain injuries, or hip, vertebrae or pelvis fractures)

  • Bedsores

  • Infections

  • Burns

  • Lacerations

  • Sprains

  • Joint dislocation

Home invasions are also becoming a common occurrence for seniors and may lead to severe injury.

Preventing In-Home Injuries

For seniors to keep their independence, they must have a safe environment to live in. Safe is a relative term that must factor in a person’s individual needs. Understanding your health, medical conditions and any complications that may arise is the first step to staying in your own home.

Not making the necessary modifications in preparation for the progression of your condition and age can worsen physical pain and lead to permanent injury or even death.

Falls

Falls are the leading fatal injury among seniors. Around 3 million seniors are hospitalized each year due to a fall. Fall-related injuries can range from minor to severe. They include hip, pelvis, or vertebrae fractures, which often require major surgery to repair. This can lead to permanent disability and financial instability. Costs for treating falls and fall-related injuries in seniors is estimated to be near $70 billion annually.

Any injury that leads to lengthy or complicated, rehabilitation can prevent you from living independently. The recovery process following a severe fall can lead to depression as well as a complete loss of physical and financial independence, making fall prevention an important consideration for all seniors. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other head trauma sustained during a fall can also have long-term consequences from which a senior may never recover.

Regular exercise under the care of a physician or physical therapist along with vitamin D supplements will strengthen the body, increase stability, and help prevent falls. If mobility is a major issue, changing your home to reduce fall hazards is also a good idea. Changes to consider include:

  • Add handrails and seats to showers and tubs.

  • Place non-slip mats in some areas.

  • Remove rugs that may cause tripping.

  • Remove clutter and other obstacles.

  • Secure furniture that may tip over.

  • Remove items with sharp edges or glass tops.

  • Install an elevated toilet or toilet seat.

  • Install ramps or lift assist devices for stairs.

Hire a contractor to make aging accommodations in all the trouble spots in your home. Don’t forget to budget for these important projects by finding out the average cost of aging or disability home modifications and whether you qualify for related grants. There are also budget-friendly smart home devices that can help improve the quality of your life at home while enjoying time alone or with friends and family.

Burns

Burns are very common among seniors—the second leading cause of death from home injuries. Older adults do not respond as well to burn treatments and experience a much higher mortality rate as a result. This makes burn prevention a critical issue.

Individuals with balance, vision, or memory issues are more likely to burn themselves accidentally or start a fire. Conditions such as peripheral neuropathy dramatically increase the chances of a person experiencing a severe burn. Peripheral neuropathy affects how and when sufferers feel pain and can occur from physical injury, cancer, diabetes, infection, some medications, diseases and environmental factors.

To help prevent burns and the potential for a fire, consider:

  • Set water heaters to a lower temperature.

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.

  • Consider integrating strobe lights for those who are hard of hearing. However, strobe lights should not be used by those who are prone to seizures, epilepsy, or migraines.

  • Plan an escape route.

  • Keep all rooms properly lit.

  • Have fire extinguishers in the kitchen.

  • Simplify food preparations to avoid the need for hot burners or fire.

  • Remove fire sources, including lighters, cigarettes, and candles.

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it covers the most basic considerations. Those at risk for burns, especially individuals experiencing peripheral neuropathy, should talk to a healthcare provider about additional precautions.

It is important to consider whether professional in-home services like errand running and personal assistantsmeal deliveryregular fire and safety inspections, or a home healthcare aid may help prevent injury.

Additional Considerations

Burns and falls are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often occur together or with other injuries. Taking time to understand the consequences of sustaining an in-home injury will guide you in taking the right preventative measures. This may seem daunting at first. However, preparing your home to age in place while you have the time and resources will help you keep your independence longer.

Introducing Technology to Seniors

Article written by: Ruby Clarkson


Modern technology like the Internet and smartphones offer a great connectivity tool, but many elderly people feel uncomfortable using these resources. Fortunately, you can help build a bridge between modern technology and their personal interests by showing them how to use these tools to improve their lives. Learning to embrace technology can have a big impact on seniors level of socialisation, knowledge, and even their physical and mental health. Here are some of the top ways that modern technology can benefit seniors.

Staying in touch

According to care provider Helping Hands, as people age it becomes increasingly important to be able to openly communicate with them and stay connected. Technology offers a great platform for connection across families. Studies have found that across all generations, the computer is seen as helping family communication. Though spending quality face time together is important, connecting online through social media and tools like Skype is a great option for families to stay in touch when they are separated by geography or unconventional family structures. Having this regular interaction has also been shown to effectively treat conditions such as senior depression.

Bonding through learning

Modern technology also offers seniors a way to bond with their families, share information, and learn from each other. One study found that more than 75% of elderly people learn about technology from their grandchildren. Families can form stronger bonds by exploring the internet and learning about new technology together. What’s more, online learning opportunities for the elderly are becoming more and more popular, making it possible for students of any age to develop a new skill, and receive tuition from accredited educational institutions all around the world - plus many of these courses are free for pensioners!

Medical assistance

Digital health resources like online patient portals and tracking apps, can be extremely beneficial to elderly people - but only if they know how to use them. To help seniors overcome any issues with accessing and using this technology, it’s best to explain to them what the practical benefits are of things like contacting their GP online and turning to smartphone apps to manage their medical conditions. Technology and smartphone Apps can also be used for medication management and to help prevent missed medication and medication errors.

Safety

Advancements in technology mean that more elderly people are able to stay living safely in their own homes for longer. Any senior who lives alone should have a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), which allows the wearer to call for help with the simple push of a button. You and your family can have peace of mind knowing the PERS can facilitate a call for help in any emergency situation. GPS tracking devices can also be used to monitor a senior’s location, making them a great tool for people who suffer from dementia including Alzheimer's.

How to introduce technology to your grandparents

Now you know the benefits, here are some tips on the best ways to introduce modern technology to your grandparents:

 

●      Keep it simple - Remember that computers and technology can be overwhelming for those without a lot of technological exposure, so keep things simple - there’s no need to explain how an internet router works!

●      Find elderly-friendly technology - Look for technology that is geared towards seniors - touchscreen tablets are a good example because they are larger than smartphones, yet they don’t require as much navigational know-how as a standard laptop or desktop.

●      Stay calm - You should never lose patience or become frustrated when teaching seniors how to use technology. Remember that they didn’t grow up on hashtags and messengers, so it might take them a little longer to understand how things work.

●      Keep them interested - Everyone learns best when their personal interests are engaged. Therefore, if you want to get elderly people to embrace modern technology, it’s a good idea to show them how it links in with their favorite activities. For example, online games like Bingo could be of interest.

●      Explain the importance of privacy - Although you won’t want to intimidate them into not using the internet or their smartphone, it’s important to make seniors aware of cyber security threats. Help them stay safe when using modern technology by explaining the importance of using secure sites, and choosing quality passwords that will keep hackers out.

●      Enroll them in local classes - Many communities offer free or low-cost computer classes for the elderly, which will enable your grandparents to learn with their peers. The classes will be taught at a pace that the majority of older adults can keep up with.

Five Things to Know When Adding Smart Technology to Senior Living

Article written by: Elise Morgan

Image by  Pexels

Image by Pexels

The leaps and bounds in smart technology have made life much easier for many people, not least of all enabling seniors to retain their independence for longer. Whether choosing to remain in their own homes or join a residential community for seniors, smart technology can enhance elderly people’s lives – just as it does for the rest of the population. If you are considering improving senior living with smart technology, select the most appropriate products with our five tips.

 

What is Smart Home Technology?

Smart home technology is an encompassing term for many different products that assist people in running their home, making life more convenient, comfortable and secure. From ‘smart’ thermostats to lighting and onto sensors; smart technology connects to a central home hub from which users can control the products.

 To avoid the need for elderly people to learn a number of different apps and control them from a smartphone or other device, it is useful to start off with a smart home assistant such as Amazon’s Echo, or Google Home. By installing a central control, all other smart technology can be controlled and monitored through a single product. A second benefit of a smart home hub is the ability to control products with a voice command.

 Considering only 10% of people over the age of 65, and just 16% of 50 – 64 year-olds use a smartphone, voice command technology is invaluable in senior living.

 

How Can Smart Home Technology Be Beneficial to Seniors?

Smart home technology can connect and control speakers, lighting, thermostats and much, much more. Considering the range of health and well-being related issues that are pertinent in our later years, smart technology can be used to either mitigate or eradicate them. In doing so, elderly people are able to maintain their independence, dignity and continue active lives.

Improved Sleep Quality: Sleep disturbances are more common among the elderly population than any other group. Trouble falling asleep, restless nights and difficulty staying asleep are all more prevalent when we reach our later years. Smart technology can aid elderly people with one of the top recommendations for getting a good night’s sleep – the bedroom environment. A smart thermostat can be installed so that room temperature can be lowered to a more conducive level for sleep at the call of the occupant. Another option is to install smart speakers that can be instructed to play white noise keeping light sleepers from waking.

Better Health: At a time when our memories are likely to fail, taking medication at the right times can become imperative for our health. Forgetting to take a particular pill, taking it twice or taking it too close to another medication it may have an adverse reaction with, can have serious consequences. Smart technology can again be used to help seniors take the right pills at the right times, without the worry of doubling up. Smart medication dispensers such as Reminder Rosie and MedMinder can alert people at the right time about the medication they need, and even other appointments or tasks.

Better for the Environment: It may seem like a small thing, but left-on lights, stoves and appliances are not only bad for utility bills, but the environment too. Smart technology can be used to control lights, heating and even the stove – switching them off at predetermined times, or when sensors detect no-one is in the room and using them. A wide range of electric stove turn-off products are already on the market, some run on a timer and others have sensors. Technology for gas stoves is still under development.

The development of smart technology is expected to continue growing and is sure to make the lives of senior and disabled people far easier and more comfortable as further products become available.

6 New Skills to Learn That Will Enhance Your Life

written by: Julie Morris

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Image via Unsplash

Are you bored? Are you stressed from the challenge of trying to juggle work and relationships? Do you just want to learn something fun that doesn’t involve sitting on your rump and watching TV? Whether you’re a retiree in your golden years, full swing in the middle of your career, or a student who is still trying to decide what path to take, learning to do new things can take your quality of life to the next level. Here are six new skills to consider for adding fun and productivity to your life, many of which can be done online or with a group of friends.

 

Musical Instrument

 Besides just being really fun, learning a musical instrument has amazing cognitive benefits and can be a mental health booster. While learning any instrument is beneficial, certain instruments work certain parts of the body and brain. Research various instrument options with your unique personality and goals in mind, or visit a music store in your area to determine which one suits you. You can find free tutorials on YouTube, take Skype lessons, or look for local traditional classes if you want to add a socializing aspect to the learning process.

 

Speed-Reading

 Learning to speed-read can come in very handy. Of course, there are times when you will prefer to just relax and take your time with a good book. But being able to finish your required reading three or five times faster would leave you with more time in the day to accomplish other things. Click here to read about a method called “The PX Project,” which has increased participants’ reading speed by an average of 386 percent.

 

Video Production

 Videos are a great way to document the lives of you and your people. Whether you’re making home videos to watch with the family each year or creating a collage of friends and events that will bring nostalgia for years to come, being able to make quality videos is a skill worth learning. You can find tutorials and classes online or check at your local community college to see if they offer a video production course.

 

Carpentry

Learning carpentry as a hobby is a great way to become handier around the house, but it’s also one of the more satisfying and enriching trades on this list. There’s just something special about working on a project with your hands and seeing the final product. The process of woodworking can also reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and combat cognitive decline.

 

Gardening

Like many of the other skills on this list, gardening is well-known for alleviating stress and improving overall health. One of the best parts about it, however, is the nutritional aspect. Growing your own food is a way for you to eat as fresh and healthy as possible, and most gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. Furthermore, you don’t need a huge spread in your backyard to begin gardening. You can start by planting in a small container and go from there! Another option is to take on some landscaping projects around the house, including planting trees, flowers, and shrubs.

 

Cooking

Who doesn’t want to know how to cook a killer dish? Everyone wants to, but not everyone is willing to take the time. Cooking is an art that teaches you patience and develops and exercises your creativity. There’s no limit to the variety of foods you can master, and you can expose yourself and your loved ones to many different cultures. It’s also an inexpensive way to reduce stress. You can even make some money on the side if that’s something you’re into.

 

No matter your age, learning new skills will enhance your life and improve your health. Look online or locally for opportunities to learn speed-reading, video production, a musical instrument, carpentry, cooking, gardening, or one of the countless other activities available. Whether you’re looking to do it as an individual or with a group of friends, there’s something out there that you can start today.

Are You Prepared to Live to 100?

Blog post from Smart Living 360

When Living to 100 is Not Uncommon

As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” However, it’s not too challenging to see that many of us will be living longer, often much longer, than previous generations. Remarkably, researchers predict than the first person to live to 150 is alive today. Event Yogi is example of increasingly longevity: he lived to 90 years of age.

We’re on the brink of where living to 100 will not be uncommon. In fact, demographers predict that a child born in the developed world today has a greater than 50% chance of living to be over 100. It’s not just about young people, however. If you’re 65 and healthy, odds are you will live to at least 90 years.

How Do You Plan to Live to 100? Start with Realistic Expectations

How do you plan to live to 100? Carefully (but be flexible!).

We need to be honest with our particular circumstances and range of possible outcomes.  For those nearing traditional retirement age, be realistic about how long you may live and focus on lifestyles that work financially and make you happy overall. For those in mid-life, there will most likely be changes in your job or career and related fluctuations in income. At the same time, it’s good to make an effort to stay in touch with friends while also reaching out to new ones. For those earlier in life, gain an appreciation for the change that will occur over your lifetime and be open to navigating these changes successfully.

In every case, we’re all trailblazers for a new era.

Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott recently tackled this subject in their award winning book The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in the Age of Longevity.  With Ms. Gratton’s background as a psychologist and Mr. Scott’s as an economist, the authors – both professors at the London Business School – provide a blended perspective of how to prepare for such a long life. They conclude that how people approach life will change profoundly.

An End to the Three Stage Life 

The traditional stages of life – education, employment and retirement – will end. Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, has long advocated for reimagining this standard life course as she describes in the video The Big Idea in Four Minutes. She posits that there is an opportunity to work less during the child rearing years and to work more later thereby pushing out the traditional retirement stage. Ms. Gratton and Mr. Scott see the same thing: life will become multi-staged and transitions will become the norm. Visionaries like Marc Freedman and his colleagues at Encore.org are helping create a stage after one’s work career but before retirement which they call the “encore career.” Encore.org encourages people to use their gifts and experience to help society at large, increasingly in an intergenerational context.

The Role of Work and Financial Planning

The nature of work will change. With technology disruption around the corner, such as with artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advances, people will need to evolve to make sure that their skills fit with the needs of the workplace. Job changes are already changing at an accelerated path: LinkedIn found that Millennials have switched jobs at twice the rate of GenX.

One of the likely outcomes is that more people will work beyond traditional retirement age. Signs indicate that this is already happening (see graph below). Given pressures on pensions and social security, it is unlikely that government will be able to provide the same benefits prior generations received, particularly in the context of longer lives. More of the responsibility will fall on individuals to navigate financial security in this new era. Indeed, the power of compounding returns – applied to the spread between income and expenses – becomes even more significant over the course of a long life.

Note the Impact of Compounding Returns for Many Aspects of Life

While getting finances squared away is critical, there is much more to succeed in long life planning than having a proper nest egg.  A key part of the equation is having properly invested in other elements of life. Are you able to have a clear purpose at each stage of life? Do you have relationships to support you in your journey? Are you actively caring for your health? Much like compounding investment returns, good habits in these areas can ultimately have an outsized impact in your overall well-being.

Valuing the Importance of Place

The role of place – or “Power of Place” as outlined in a SmartLiving 360 blog from last year – is an important element, too. The right living situation can strengthen our social connections and reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness. There is simply no equal to regular, face-to-face interaction with people who know and care for you; and certain neighborhoods, for example, are conducive to creating such relationships.

Further, the right housing can keep us healthy. For example, about 1/3 of older adults fall each year leading to over 700,000 hospital visits. Most of these falls occur within homes which is not surprising given that less than 5% of all housing stock is designed with features accommodating people of moderate mobility difficulties. Fortunately, new, attractive housing options designed for people of all ages are emerging.

What’s My Next Step? 

Where do you go from here? For some, talking to your financial planner is a good next step to make sure the key assumptions driving your plan are conservative and account for the odds of increasing longevity. There are several free online financial tools that can assist in this, too.

But the opportunity is broader. Ms. Gratton and Mr. Scott have created a website to accompany their book: www.100yearlife.com. This website includes a diagnostic tool to help evaluate your readiness across several dimensions, including those that are tangible, such as your finances, and those that are intangible, such as the strength of your friendships. Designing Your Life, a NY Times best-selling book by a couple of Stanford professors, is also a useful guide and was the subject of a SmartLiving 360 blog (“Design Thinking for Your Life”).

I would expect more and better tools to emerge in the future to help properly plan and execute on these plans in the context of an increasingly long life.

A Mindset to Thrive, Not Just Survive

The most important step is to have a mindset to see these extra years as a gift – in the form of thousands of days as compared to prior generations – and one worth planning for and embracing. While we learn to seize this opportunity, we should also an effort to educate the next generation as this trend will impact them even more.

When Five Bedrooms Become Two

Written by: Marie Villeza


When Five Bedrooms Become Two

 There comes a time in every parent’s life when their adult children leave the nest. You may begin to look at those newly-empty rooms as a sign that it’s time to downsize into a smaller home that will meet your new lifestyle. Swapping your large family home for a smaller one will free up money and allow you to travel, enjoy life, and leave your worries behind.

 Where to begin?

Your first step is to determine your ideal location. Are you a shopper and like the idea of being near retail establishments? Do you enjoy being outdoors? Choose your location based on proximity to your priorities.

 Making the move

If there is one thing that’s universally true about the process, it’s that you’ll find you have a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff that you don’t need. Somehow, you either have to fit all that stuff into your new home or pick and choose what stays and what goes. When you’re downsizing, you’ll be forced to do the latter. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all at once and you don’t have to do it alone.

 US News recently posted an article on how to declutter quickly before a move. Their suggestions include:

●      Start early; putting things off will only add stress down the road

●      Start small; start in the kids’ former bedrooms, and send their personal mementos to them

●      Be prepared; have plenty of packing material on hand, a paper shredder, a recycling bin, and a box for trash

●      Donate what you don’t need; this is the perfect time to lighten your load while doing good for others

 As for not doing it alone, if you don’t have adult children that can lend a hand, consider bringing in a professional home organizer. A professional home organizer can help you evaluate your new space and determine which of your personal belongings, including furniture, clothing, and knick knacks, will lend best to a downsized lifestyle.

  

Things to consider

If you’re planning to be in your new home for the long haul, the good news is that it is your property, and you have the right to modify the interior to best suit your needs. Before moving in, it’s a good idea to determine if your floor plan will be right for you as you age. You may need to budget for certain accessibility home improvements, such as widening doorways and installing a walk-in bathtub, so plan for these items early. Accessibility modifications can range from just a few dollars with things like grab bars in the bathtub to pricier construction such as adding a ramp to your steps.

One room you’ll undoubtedly need to look at with an accessibility-minded eye is the kitchen. A complete kitchen remodel in Catonsville, MD, runs from about $11,750 to $30,317, but depending on your needs, you may be able to accomplish the updates you require for much less. Updates such as adding push-controlled buttons on the front of the stove, putting food on lower refrigerator and pantry shelves, and clearing out cabinets below sinks to provide wheelchair access can be done without a huge financial investment.

 Moving to a new, smaller home is an exciting step in the lives of many still-young-at-heart Americans who wish to live life to the fullest now that their children are no longer children. It is a cost-effective option that offers you the ability do the things you’ve always wanted and to age in place.

How Music Helps with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Music Therapy

Written by: Will Tottle
Article found on: www.myaudiosound.co.uk/music-therapy-benefits

“If you were to look at those brains, you couldn’t tell the difference between people who were interacting through music and people who were interacting verbally” 
– Edward Roth

Music has been with us for thousands of years as a form of entertainment, communication, celebration, and mourning. There are so many different emotions that music can help us to express, and it is a language that we share universally, as well as one that everyone can understand.

The style of music that we listen to most and enjoy may change every decade, but that sense of communication and feeling always remains. If you, or someone close to you, suffer from mental health conditions, you may find that they listen to music quite a lot, or even play it.

Music has a way of helping us express emotions that we don’t even understand ourselves, and can put these feelings into meaningful lyrics, or just a tune that resonates with every fibre of our being. 

For many, music is a lifeline that keeps them tethered to the world, and without it, so many of us would be lost entirely. It is because of this link that music therapy was developed, and it is a great way to learn how to channel your feelings and combat mental illness. As someone who suffers from crippling anxiety and waves of depression, I have always been interested in trying this form of therapy out.

Whether you like to play the music or listen to it, you might be surprised to discover how beneficial this form of treatment can be, and in this extensive article, we look at the different ways in which music therapy can boost mental health.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is classed as a form of expressive therapy that works to improve physical and mental health through the expression of emotions. There are two forms of music therapy, and these are called active and receptive. In the former, you will create music with your therapist or group (depending on the type of therapy you have sought).

This helps you to deal with emotions, alleviate stress, and can even relieve the symptoms of conditions like Alzheimer’s (something we will look at later). Receptive music therapy, on the other hand, is where you listen to music while you draw or partake in other relaxing activities.

In short, music therapy tends to consist of three potential activities: playing music, singing, or listening to music. You can either create your own music or learn to play specific pieces that you will practice and develop over time – it depends on your personal preferences. You also have plenty of choices, as you can decide what kind of music therapy you take as well as the type of music that you play.

One thing that makes a lot of people nervous is the fact that they do not know how to play a musical instrument. The great thing is that you don’t need to worry about that. Music therapy tends to involve instruments similar to the following: Drums, Cymbals, Wood blocks, Bells, Simple harps, Xylophone, Tambourines, Maracas.

These are basic instruments that don’t require skill or knowledge, and you can still have a great deal of fun playing them. Plus, they are just as expressive as a guitar or piano.

What Can it Do for Mental Health? 

So how does this form of therapy impact mental health, and what kind of general advantages can it have? We will look at the ways in which it can help specific mental illnesses later, but for now, here is what you can expect it to do for you as a whole.

For starters, music therapy starts conversation, and it gets you talking about topics that you would have otherwise found difficult to discuss by having you rework lyrics, but also analysing the words that go with some of the songs you love the most. It creates a relaxed environment in which to talk, and one that doesn’t feel frightening or like actual therapy – allowing you to talk about past and present feelings alike without fear of judgement.

Leading on from this, you may also get the chance to write your own songs. This engages the creative parts of your mind, and rewards you with a sense of pride and self-worth. You can choose the instruments that go with the way you are feeling and create something truly expressive.

Through playing the instruments and improvising new melodies, emotional expression is encouraged, as is better socialisation – especially if you are in a therapy group. It allows you to explore different ways of expressing emotion, and the sounds that are associated with things like rage, joy, and grief. You can also use it to learn how to control these emotions over time, using the music to transition between them.

You can listen to music in order to regulate your mood, and this is because of the way in which music is repetitive and engages the neocortex of the brain – calming you and reducing the desire to be impulsive. Music therapy will help you to stop matching the music to your mood, as depressing music can leave us stuck in a loop – a symptom that we explore later on.

This teaches you better habits when listening to music, and can leave you with a boosted mood. To summarise, here are the top things music therapy can help you with:

  • Express yourself and talk about feelings you find difficult to process/discuss 

  • Deal with past trauma and emotions 

  • Improve social skills and emotion regulation 

  • Give you better faith and confidence in yourself 

    Music therapy has only really become popular over the past couple of years, and as a result, there is not as much research as we would like for every mental health condition. To help you as much as we can, we have taken the mental illnesses with the most research and evidence, placing them here so that you can see the ways in which music therapy can help, and maybe even apply them to yourself if we are not able to cover it here.

    Anxiety (General and Social)

    Anxiety comes in many forms, from a mild version that causes some disturbance to a crippling beast that you just can’t shake. Regardless of the form you live with, it is a difficult illness to have, but also one that might be able to benefit from the excellence of music therapy.

    When listening to music, or creating it, the levels of cortisol in our bodies is lowered dramatically, and this also decreases your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. It creates a more relaxed environment, and the longer you spend listening to/creating it in a chilled location, the better you are going to feel. Plus, it creates an enhanced feeling of satisfaction and pride when you create something.

    Social anxiety works in much the same way, and spending some time listening to music will help you to feel calmer and more confident in your abilities and the plans you have made. Case studies have shown that patients who underwent music therapy for their anxiety ended up feeling less anxious and more relaxed by the time it was over, and this is a very positive step forward.

    Depression 

    One of the things we look at later on is the fact that sad music can actually make you feel more depressed than you were before, and so you need to try something different. Depression can be hard to cope with, regardless of how severe or mild your strain is, and music is often a great tool to help combat these feelings of failure and inadequacy.

    NHS studies found that those who took music therapy courses were less likely to drop out of the sessions and had a higher attendance rating than those who took part in normal counselling. After three months of music therapy, the depression levels in the patients were much lower than when they left – especially when compared to the group that was receiving standard care.

    Music can also reduce your blood pressure, leaving you feeling more relaxed and comfortable while you listen to tunes or create new ones. Being able to create something beautiful also offers you a sense of validation and self-worth, while also providing you with a good dose of serotonin to boost your mood and leave your day ending on a brighter note.

    On the whole, music therapy gets you to socialise with others and express yourself, while also giving you the chance to grab onto a little happiness while you ride the wave out and start feeling a little normal again.

    PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

    Whether you have been through singular or multiple traumas, there is a chance that you may have PTSD. This often consists of feelings of anxiety, tension, and dread, as well as vivid nightmares (or night terrors) and flashbacks to the event in question. Any way you slice it, this condition is not a kind one, and it can be very difficult to live with and try to overcome.

    Studies have shown that PTSD can be successfully calmed with music. They show that music can actually reduce prominent symptoms of PTSD like emotionally-dysregulating intrusions, avoidance, mood swings, arousal, and high reactivity. It can lead to an improved ability to function properly, meaning that you can try to live your life as normally as possible once the music therapy starts to kick in.

    The music works by triggering a release of good chemicals and hormones throughout the body, like dopamine and serotonin. These are able to work to distract the body from negative thoughts that have started, but also help to boost your mood overall so that you can start to feel a little better in yourself.

    The music travels through the brain and to the auditory cortex, which is linked to emotion, memory, and body control, so your mind can work together to create a more calming environment. 

    OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

    Contrary to popular belief, OCD is not all about cleaning and washing your hands. It is also intrusive thoughts that won’t leave you alone and harmful habits that you never seem to be able to stop. It can be a stressful way to live, and one that feels as though you never get any respite from. Music can provide a little escape from your own mind, and be very beneficial while doing so.

    There is a lot of pent-up frustration with OCD, and studies by Jose Van Den Hurk have shown that playing music can help those with OCD to properly express the way they feel over time, and as they become more comfortable around their therapist.

    This form of expression can even lead to physical talks about the way they are feeling and what they are struggling with. Music therapy can also increase spontaneity and the willingness to try something new and unpredictable.

    The OCD mind is often locked in routine, and the notion of doing something that has not been planned gets your mind out of that and has you focus on better and more positive things. It shuts down the thoughts that have been flooding through your mind because it is flowing and does not get stuck in loops like your head

    ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

    While it is most commonly associated with children, ADHD does last into adulthood, and it can be just as difficult to cope with. A lack of concentration and focus, as well as seemingly endless energy,  can leave those that have the condition feeling drained and frustrated. The mind has too much going on, and there feels like it’s impossible to refocus it.

    Music therapy has been shown to increase the amount of dopamine produced by the body, and this is the neurotransmitter responsible for concentration and working memory. People with ADHD have low levels of it, and so music provides a good and increased dose to keep things running smoothly. It also engages both sides of the brain, helping them to become stronger and also boosting creativity.

    Due to both sides being activated at once, it also means that you can improve your concentration, and the distracted part of the mind is able to focus on the music while you concentrate on something else. This is part of improving multi-tasking as well as audio-processing and smoother thought processes.

    Structure is an important part of life for those with ADHD, and music is always structured in some way – whether it’s in the lyrics or the very beat itself. The fact that it is so organised has a soothing effect, and also means that those with ADHD can start to learn how to lead more ordered lives. This is very positive because the ADHD mind needs a lot of routine to function efficiently.

    Autism

    Like ADHD, autism is a condition that lasts for life, and there are millions of adults across the world who have autism. It is a spectrum disorder, and it changes the way we think, feel, and behave. Symptoms can vary depending on where you are on the autism spectrum, and so music can yield different results depending on who you try it with.

    There are many autistic adults that are non-verbal, and this makes trying to communicate a very stressful and frustrating task. However, music has been shown to aid this process – giving them a language that they can use to talk to those around them and tell everyone exactly how they feel. There have even been some cases where they have started to use words as well as the music, which is a massive breakthrough.

    For everyone on the spectrum, it is a new way to communicate, improving social skills while also reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Since those with autism tend to show a higher interest in music than the average person, it is a great way to get people engaged and talking to each other.

    Much like those with ADHD, people with autism also like structure and routine, something that music is full of, and it can invoke a sense of calm, as well as further interest in creating set rhythms of their own.

    Insomnia 

    It is a surprisingly common condition, the inability to fall asleep at night because the mind is racing with thoughts. We all have a hormone called noradrenaline, and this is what causes us to be watchful and alert, which is great when we are awake, but not so much when we are sleeping.

    If you have too much noradrenaline in your system, you will feel more stressed and anxious, as well as find yourself completely unable to sleep. It can affect your ability to function, but listening to music is able to help – even if it’s just for 45 minutes before you fall asleep.

    It can lead to much better sleep quality, improved mood, and even improved concentration. Once you are able to fall into a regular sleep pattern with the help of your music, you may even start to benefit from deeper sleep – leaving you very well rested.
    While the elderly can, and often do, suffer from all of the mental illnesses we have mentioned above (and more), there are also some that tend to affect older people far more frequently. It is in this section that we take a look at each of them and the ways in which music can help to alleviate symptoms and boost their mood.

    Alzheimer’s 

    Alzheimer’s is actually a form of dementia, and it can cause cognitive difficulties, like memory loss, perception, and learning. Additionally, it can cause severe mood swings and sudden bouts of anger, and even violence. It’s a difficult and progressive disease, but there have been some promising results from music therapy.

    The way in which music therapy works is by creating a relaxing environment in which those who suffer from Alzheimer’s can create music together or sing songs that resonate in a positive manner with each of them. This can alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety, and social isolation because they are in a group and interacting with each other.

    On a related note, there has also been a lot of research into sound waves and how they might be able to pause Alzheimer’s symptoms. It is an interesting branch when it comes to finding a cure for the condition, and it does involve a form of music therapy – although it is one that is less diverse and interactive.

    Dementia 

    This is caused by changes in the brain, usually as a result of disease or trauma, and they can happen very quickly or over a long period of time – it’s down to the individual. It is a cognitive disease, which means it affects things like decision making, judgement, memory, verbal communication, special awareness, and general thought and reasoning.

    However, music therapy has had a massively positive impact on dementia sufferers. It is an interactive and engaging activity that helps them to express thoughts and feelings, as well as connect with others around them, so they don’t feel as isolated anymore.

    On top of all the social benefits, it can also boost physical activity as the music often results in participants getting up and dancing. This enhances mood, leaving you feeling way better than you did on arrival.

    Loneliness 

    We’ve mentioned the concept of music therapy alleviating feelings of loneliness and isolation a few times, but it is good to have all the key information in one place. Music therapy is a way for everyone to get together in one place, share ideas, and collaborate in order to create new music together.

    It is both a social exercise and one that increases mood, as well as alleviates anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s a helpful and beneficial practice overall – both for the elderly and younger generations.

    Even kids can benefit from music and music therapy, and you may be surprised to discover just how much it can benefit them. In this section, we look at some common conditions, as well as the effect music has on children before they are even born – giving you better insight into how your child might be able to take advantage of it.

    Autism

    Just as in adults, autism is a spectrum, and as such music therapy can have a different effect on each of the people who take part in it. While music therapy works excellently across the spectrum, some of the best and most exciting results are in those who are non-verbal, meaning that they cannot speak, or have a very limited ability to do so.

    Studies have shown that those who are non-verbal have been able to use music therapy as a way to interact and express emotions that they otherwise would not be able to because they do not have the words. Even very basic instruments, like cymbals, are a great way for them to express themselves.

    It allows them to socialise and discover a new language, and brain scans show that the area where language is stored looks the same in those communicating with music, as it does those with words. Regardless of where a child is on the spectrum, music therapy can help them to achieve the following:

    • The ability to listen better 

    • Spontaneous play 

    • The desire to communicate and engage with others 

    • The ability to build better relationships 

    • The ability to express themselves 

    • Language development through songs 

    • Learning to share and take turns 

    • Boost the imagination and creativity 

    • Strengthen muscles and coordination 

    The reason for all of these good things is that music therapy creates a relaxed and enjoyable environment where they are stimulated and engaged, and all of this combined creates positive results for them as they grow and learn.

    ADHD

    It can be hard having ADHD because you are so full of energy and unable to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. Your mind is moving at a million miles an hour, and it is hard to get it to stop. Music therapy, however, can help with a few of the symptoms quite effectively.

    You see, music consists of rhythm, and rhythm is a form of structure, and this appeals to the ADHD mind because all it wants is structure and organisation. It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, so everything is anticipated, and in the long run, it can help a child with ADHD learn planning and organisation so that they can lead a more structured life.

    ADHD brains have a pretty low dopamine level, and this is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for motivation, attention, and working memory. Music activates both sides of the brain, which means everything is engaged, and the activated brain muscles are able to become stronger – boosting things like motivation and the ability to focus.

    Music therapy also gives kids a chance to get up and dance, allowing themselves to move freely and burn some of that pent-up energy. It also doubles up as a form of expression, as dance is a very emotive activity, allowing them to engage with others and tell them how they are feelingthrough the combination of music and dance.

    It is a fun experience for those with ADHD, but also a social one. It can be hard to know how to act appropriately, especially for children, and music encourages socialisation through song and playing instruments. They learn how to work together when creating song lyrics, as well as a musical number that they can perform in the group.

    Infant Development 

    This is an interesting area, and studies have shown that playing music while a foetus is growing and developing in the womb will make them more responsive to it after birth. This means that some babies may find that music relaxes and soothes them when they become distressed, helping them to sleep and stay a little quieter.

    Preterm babies that are exposed to music tend to have increased feeding rates, reduced days to discharge, increased weight gain, and a better tolerance of stimulation. After therapy, they may even have reduced heart rates and deeper sleep.

    We all have songs that help us get through the most difficult times. Personally, I really enjoy listening to sounds of the ocean when I am really struggling, or Zen music. However, I know others that like to listen to heavy metal in order to start feeling alright again. There’s no wrong answer for which music to listen to in order to help your mental health, but I do have a few good suggestions you might want to try.

    Anxiety and Social Anxiety

    Interestingly, there is an actual song that was developed for relieving anxiety, and it can reduce the feelings and symptoms by up to 65% - which is pretty remarkable. Created by Marconi Union in collaboration with sound therapists, the song Weightless consists of a series of carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms and bass lines that are there to slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and the stress hormone cortisol.

    Generally speaking, slower music like the songs sung by Adele and even some Coldplay singles are ideal for reliving those tight and tense feelings of anxiety – but you should have Marconi Union at the top of your list. You can also try these Binaural Beats on YouTube; you might find them to be quite relaxing.

    Depression 

    The most important thing you can do when you are feeling depressed is resist the sad music on your phone or in your CD collection. Listening to sad music does more harm than good, and can actually lower your mood and leave you feeling worse than before. Instead, you need upbeat and uplifting songs on your playlist to really help you fight the battle and win against your depression.

    Artists like Pharrell Williams, who creates music that is catchy and focuses on positive emotions are the best ones to listen to when you are trying to relieve your depression. Walk On by U2 and Keep Your Head Up by Andy Grammar are just another two songs that can really help to boost your mood and assist you with getting through difficult times. My personal favourite? Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac.

    Stress

    Much like with anxiety, if you want to reduce stress (and therefore the hormone cortisol that creates it), you are going to want to listen to music with a soft and gentle rhythm. It will lower your blood pressure, relieve tension, and help you to feel a little less worried about the road ahead. It’s a great coping strategy, and a healthy one.

    The album In My Time by Yanni has no vocals. Instead, it is a beautiful combination of piano and orchestra – creating a soothing and relaxing atmosphere that you can melt into. More than that, each track on the album has uplifting undertones to boost your mood. Maroon 5 is an excellent band to look at for stress relief, and the album Songs by Jane is filled with mellow and upbeat songs to brighten your day and calm the soul.

    PTSD

    Studies have shown that the best music for PTSD contains low pitches, have a steady beat, and is slow. In addition to this, it can be very beneficial to use binaural beats and isochronic tones, each of which triggers a chemical reaction in the brain to help calm the mind and relieve feelings of terror and anxiety.

    This particular YouTube soundtrack has been created specifically for PTSD, and it contains carefully embedded binaural beats that can help with sleep and feelings of calm. It also lasts for an hour, so you can spend time meditating and really focussing on the music. There are quite a few binaural tracks out there that you can look at, but the one we have suggested is certainly in the top five.

    OCD

    As the music helps you to focus on the song as opposed to obsessive and intrusive thoughts, it is important to consider your song choice carefully. Honestly, there is not a specific type of music that can help, although some sufferers feel that binaural beats can be quite refreshing.

    As long as the song help you to focus on other things, you are good to go. Some of the top suggestions from OCD sufferers have been Heavy by Linkin Park and this classical music selection that is said to be able to free you from your OCD symptoms for a time.

    ADHD

    The ADHD mind can become distracted easily and lose focus, and so music with lyrics can actually assist with that interruption and cause a new focus for the mind. As a result, many ADHD sufferers have found that listening to classical music, or music with no lyrics in general, can help to keep the mind focused on the task at hand, as well as giving the part of the brain that interrupts you something to focus on.

    Bach, Mozart, and Handel are just some of the artists that can create a peaceful background while you try to work, keeping your mind on what you are doing in the present moment. There is also a company called Focus at Will, and this creates soundtracks to suit the type of thinker you are, but also has one dedicated to those with ADHD – adults and kids alike. You might want to try it out.

    Autism

    Due to the fact that autism is such a vast spectrum, the type of music that helps varies from person to person, and where they are on it. Plus, there are times where music can make things worse – such as if it is put on when a person is suffering from a sensory overload. However, there are some ideas for what might help you out, and the songs here are recommended by those that suffer from autism.

    The key thing here is that all of the music is soft and mellow, which has a calming effect and will reduce feelings of anxiety and tension. Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles is a popular choice, as is I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. Similarly, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata can help massively due to its calm melody and lack of lyrics.

    Insomnia 

    When you can’t sleep and spend ages looking up at the ceiling, the last thing you need to listen to is music that has a fast pace and beat. This is because it will boost the amount of noradrenaline that your body is producing, keeping you awake and watchful all through the night. Instead, for 45 minutes before you go to sleep, why not take our music advice? Harmat’s insomnia study in 2008 proved its effectiveness after all.

    The songs here are ones that other insomnia sufferers recommend because of their calming melodies. Midnight by Coldplay is a prime example, and the first one you should add to your sleep playlist. Weightless by Marconi Union (a song we talk about more in the anxiety section) is also an excellent choice. Try adding On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz, as well as Nude by Radiohead.

    There are two ways in which you can start music therapy. The first is by getting a referral from your doctor – either for you or your child – and they will send you to a specific centre. Often, this is funded by the NHS. In the USA, there may be some charities that fund music therapy if you cannot afford it. In both the UK and USA, you may be expected to pay for some courses, depending on your age and circumstances.

    You can also go directly to music therapy centres yourself and contact them for self-referral to one of their courses. We have gathered some of the top centres in the UK and USA for you to take a look at, so you can see what they offer and the conditions that they are able to help with.
    To Conclude

    Hopefully, this has helped you to understand what music therapy is, how it works, and the ways in which it might be able to benefit you, or a loved one, who is suffering from a mental illness. There are so many conditions that have yet to be properly explored with music therapy, and we hope that they are added to the list soon so that even more people can experience the incredible benefits.

    Generally speaking, soft and steady rhythms seem to be the best choice for most conditions, and it has an amazing way of reducing our stress levels, relieving tension, and generally boosting our mood. Music is a wonderful tool that we do no use enough, and hopefully, this will start getting you interested in seeing if music therapy is something that can work for you.

    What did you think of our guide to music and the effect it has on mental health? Did you find the points we made valid and interesting, or were there areas that you think could have been further explored? We love hearing from you, so leave a message in the comments below.

The 3 Most Important Factors for High-Quality Sleep as a Senior

Photo via  Pexels .

Photo via Pexels.

By: Marie Villeza, Elder Impact

You may have noticed yourself having more difficulty falling and staying asleep as you’ve grown older. While this is common, it is not normal. Poor sleep is not a simple consequence of aging, and it’s usually linked to other factors surrounding your lifestyle and environment. Your sleep has a huge impact on your overall health and quality of life, so you owe it to yourself to find out what these factors are and what you can do to achieve true restful sleep.

Your Bedroom Environment
Most of us don’t put too much thought into how the environment in our bedroom can help us sleep, but we really should. Taking the time to create a relaxing, comfortable space can make the difference between lying awake tossing and turning and dozing off peacefully.

First of all, check whether you are using the right mattress. Our bodies can become more sensitive to pain and discomfort when we grow older, making a mediocre mattress an actual health risk. This guide by Tuck on the best mattresses for seniors is extremely detailed and explains all the features you should be looking for in a great mattress, such as support, firmness, and pressure relief.

You should also make sure that you have good air quality in your home, as pollutants, allergens, and especially dryness can all lead to discomfort and illness which have proven to keep you up at night. A humidifier can do wonders to improve your home’s air quality and, as a result, your sleep. This can be particularly helpful if you have a hard time sleeping because of respiratory issues. Make sure to check online reviews to find the best humidifiers on the market.

Diet
The relationship between diet and sleep is often misunderstood, with most people assuming it’s just the food you eat in the few hours before bed that make a difference. It’s true that you should be avoiding certain foods before bed, such as chocolate, alcohol, and fatty foods. However, it’s more complicated than that.

According to NBC, an overall healthy diet allows our bodies to properly absorb the nutrients our body needs to get a good night’s sleep. It also prevents digestive problems such as indigestion which can keep us up at night. A healthy diet can give us the energy we need to maintain an active lifestyle (more on that below). This means it’s not just about what you have for dinner—although a lighter evening meal could help—but your diet as a whole.

Exercise
Unlike diet, when it comes to exercise, it’s not really about how much we work out during the day at all. While it may be easier to fall asleep when you are tired from strenuous activity, it’s the regular act of exercising that makes the biggest difference in your quality of sleep. More importantly, the two feed into each other: Better sleep leads to improved exercise, which leads to better sleep (and so forth).

This means it’s essential to incorporate fitness into your daily routine. A good place to start is by investing in a pedometer or fitness tracker to help you get a handle on your physical health. These instruments can track daily steps, distance traveled, and calories burned, which can increase motivation and give you a clear idea of how much exercise you are getting.

Improving your diet, exercise habits, and sleep environment is likely to make a big difference to your quality of sleep. However, if you are still unable to get the sleep you need after making these changes, it may be time to see your doctor. A doctor can diagnose you if you have a sleep disorder and counsel you on any additional steps you can take. Whatever your situation is, a good night’s rest is something you deserve and is within reach, so don’t settle for poor sleep.

How to Finance Aging in Place Renovations: A Fully Accessible Guide

By: Michael Pearl
Article from: www.bankrate.com/loans/personal-loans/aging-in-place-renovations

In a 2017 study, AARP found that 95 percent of people ages 65 and older preferred to stay in their own homes as they aged. It’s a process known as aging in place – in which older homeowners retrofit their homes to accommodate growing older. It’s a popular alternative to relocation, whether it’s to a nursing home or retirement facility.

Staying in your own home as you grow older offers many benefits. Homeowners can enjoy a stronger sense of safety, comfort, independence, and privacy. Though the renovation cost may be high, it can still be cheaper to age in place than it would be to move to an assisted-living facility.

For a room-by-room guide on aging-in-place renovations, check out AARP’s HomeFit Guide.

For the budget-minded homeowner, there are a number of ways to finance the aging in place process, including:

  • Home renovation loans
  • Home equity loans/home equity lines of credit (HELOC)
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Government grants and loans

It is best to begin planning for aging-in-place renovations early, before you retire. If you haven’t, there are still financial steps you can take in order to remain in your home. Our fully accessible aging in place financial guide can help you comfortably grow older in your own home.

What’s your current situation? Choose an option below.

I’m still employed, and I haven’t retired yet
I’m retired and on a fixed income
I or a family member can no longer take care of myself or themselves

I’m still employed and I haven’t retired yet

Best for you: home improvement loans or home equity loans/HELOC

If you’re still employed but considering aging-in-place, retirement may be on the horizon. At this point in life you may own a home. Maybe you’re also considering renovating your property.

If you are, you can incorporate aging in place into your renovations. Renovating your home for old age doesn’t have to result in a cold and clinical design. In fact, according to Home Advisor, it’s better to integrate aging in place into other home improvement projects. This way you can have the interior design you want – while laying the groundwork for future renovations.

For example, let’s say you’re redoing the cabinets in your kitchen. Perhaps you could consider replacing the knobs with D-shaped pulls to make gripping easier as you age. Small steps like that can help prepare for larger aging in place renovations in the future.

Currently, men and women both reach their peak earning years in their 40s. So your credit score may be the highest it’s ever been, and you may have the most equity in your home.

Your two best financing options may be to consider a home improvement loan, or a home equity loan. The option that works for you will vary according to your financial situation.

There’s benefits and drawbacks to both types of loans:
Home improvement loans are personal loans taken out for funding home renovations. These loans are unsecured, and rely entirely on your credit score / history. You won’t have to tap into your home’s equity. But since home improvement loans are unsecured, interest rates are generally higher.

Home equity loans and HELOCs do tap into your home’s available equity. Since they’re secured by your home, the interest rates should be lower.

Home improvement loans work best for short-term expenses. Home equity loans/HELOCs tend to come with repayment periods of anywhere from 15 to 30 years. If you are at all unsure if you will continue to live in your home past retirement, but still want to plan just in case, we recommend a home improvement loan.

I’m retired and on a fixed income

Best for you: home equity loan/HELOC, government assistance, reverse mortgages

At this point, you may need renovations for the direct purpose of aging in place. For example, AARP recommends that older homeowners install nonslip flooring as well as a low rise shower with a no-step entry.

But how can you finance these renovations after retirement?

For many retirees, Social Security is their only source of steady income. But you may still be unsure about where you want to live — and it might be more difficult now to begin the renovation process. Even if you have a pristine credit score, it’s usually harder for retirees to find the most favorable loans.

It’s still possible to fund a home improvement project after retirement, but you’ll need a different strategy. Taking out a home improvement loan may result in higher payments than you can afford. Instead, consider capitalizing on your hard work.

Your best options may be to utilize the equity you’ve build up in your property, or find more favorable rates in government-based loans.

Examine your savings before taking out any loan that taps into your equity. You may be able to pay for some renovation costs up front, while still ensuring you can live comfortably in the future.

If you choose to tap into your home’s equity, you should be sure that you’re going to remain in your home for as long as possible. Home equity loans/HELOCs have an average lifespan of 15 to 30 years. And a reverse mortgage will come due when the borrower either dies, sells the home, or permanently moves out.

These loans do still need to be repaid, but you may get a better interest rate than with a home improvement loan. Each loan is secured by your property, and your equity helps determine the value of your loan. And as always, never borrow more than you need.

If you think you can qualify, the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers several federal loans. For example, Title 1 Property Improvement Loans let borrowers take out a loan from eligible lenders. Each loan is insured by the federal government, so borrowers may be able to find a lower rate than they would elsewhere.

I or a family member can no longer take care of myself or themselves

Best for you: home equity loan/HELOC, reverse mortgage, long-term health insurance

If you or a family member’s health has reached a point where constant assistance is required, you may need to consider assisted living. That does not necessarily mean your family member must move out of their home.

Instead, home health care can provide necessary services and allow for aging in place. Home health care can actually cost less when compared to an assisted-living community. According to Genworth’s 2017 Annual Cost of Care survey, the median cost of home health aide services is $21.50 an hour, while the median cost of assisted-living facilities is $3,750 a month.

Medicare can help cover some of the costs, but it has increasingly strict income and health requirements. And Medicare isn’t designed to pay for long term care.

You should also consider long-term health insurance. The earlier you sign up for one of these policies, the better — the cost of insurance may be higher if you wait.

Still, the benefits may outweigh the premiums: According to the 2018 National Long-term Care Insurance Price Index, the premium for a couple aged 65 is $4,675 combined. But the benefit begins at $164,000.

Tapping into your available equity via home equity loan/HELOC or reverse mortgage can help fill in any gaps. Pairing these loans with long-term care insurance may help cover some assisted living and aging in place costs.

Accessibility notice

Our assistive guide was developed to accommodate the special needs of older homeowners. The content was created for complete interpretation by all readers including those with visual, hearing, and other physical disabilities. It was built to work with voice assist and other assistive technologies.

This guide was published in conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/REC-WCAG20-20081211/, and meets Level A conformance guidelines. Currently, we only claim conformance for the content specifically found on this webpage: https://www.bankrate.com/loans/personal-loans/aging-in-place-renovations/

Recognising Depression in Older People

Content from: https://www.beindependenthomecare.ie/

Depression amongst elderly citizens is often dismissed as an inevitable part of ageing, but it is not good enough to just accept this as a fact of life when it doesn’t have to be the case. By maintaining positive mental and physical health, and with the right support from family and friends, people can continue to lead happy, fulfilling lives long past the age of retirement. If you notice some behaviors which could indicate the onset or existence of depression, now is the time to act. Talk to your elders and try to establish a roadmap as to how problems can be fixed.

Recognising-Depression-in-Older-People.jpg

Seniors in Flight: Protecting Yourself During Air Travel

Image via  Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

Written by: Marie Villeza, www.elderimpact.org

Few people look forward to air travel. Long lines, awkward security checkpoints, and cramped airline seating all but ensure that flying is an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved. For seniors, air travel can be especially inconvenient. Between physical limitations, health concerns, and travel crime targeting seniors, getting on a plane can sometimes seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But don’t let travel worries stop you from spending your retirement the way you’ve dreamed of. Instead, take these measures to protect yourself during air travel.

Avoid Getting Sick

Airplanes are a minefield of germs. With tight quarters and limited air circulation, it’s no wonder that up to 20 percent of people experience cold symptoms in the weeks following a flight. For the elderly, that cold could be more than a nuisance. Adults over the age of 65 are more susceptible to contracting the cold or flu, experience more severe symptoms than younger adults, and are more likely to contract pneumonia or even die as a result of their illness.

To protect yourself from unexpected illness, stay hydrated throughout your trip. Dry cabin air during flights makes it easier for germs to settle into your sinuses, but drinking plenty of water and rehydrating your nasal passages with a saline spray can help flush out viruses and bacteria. Wash your hands before eating, and bring a pocket pack of antibacterial wipes so you can clean off your tray table and entertainment console before using them. If your health is fragile for any reason, a face mask offers extra protection from airborne germs.

Protect Your Medication

If you take a daily medication, the last thing you want is to forget or lose that medicine when you’re en route to a destination hundreds of miles from your doctor’s office. Luckily, prescription medications are permitted in carry-on luggage.

Packing your medications in your carry-on luggage protects your health in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed. Pack medications in their original containers with the prescription label attached. Place prescriptions in a clear plastic bag with nothing else so they’re accessible at security checkpoints. If your medication or medical devices can’t go through the X-ray machine, ask for a visual inspection instead.

Keep Your Home Safe

Leaving your home unattended during travel leaves it vulnerable to vandalism and break-ins, but there are ways to protect yourself before you depart. Try to make your home appear lived-in during your absence. Place a hold on mail and newspaper deliveries while you’re gone, or ask a neighbor to pick up your mail each day. For potential burglars, lingering deliveries are a sure sign that a house is empty. Set lights on timers so it appears that people are inhabiting different rooms throughout the day. If you don’t have a garage, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway so it looks like someone’s home.

Don’t forget the simple measures for securing your home. Ensure that all doors and windows are locked before you leave, enable your security system, and tell trusted neighbors that you plan to be out of town. Every pair of eyes is an extra layer of protection for your home. If you’re able, ask someone to drop in occasionally to make sure everything is OK.

Countless seniors plan to travel the world during retirement. After decades of working, what could be better than jet-setting around the globe, seeing all the places you read about in your youth? But there’s more to planning a successful vacation than buying plane tickets and booking hotel rooms. With these tips, seniors can enjoy an adventure that’s both fun and safe.

Healthy Nutrition for Older People

The importance of a healthy, well-balanced diet cannot be underestimated, particularly for older people whose bodies need the right nutrition to prevent severe health problems from arising. Failure to maintain a healthy diet can result in complications such as heart disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease developing quickly.

Unfortunately, elderly people are less likely than most to eat healthily, for a variety of reasons. They could find it too difficult to prepare proper meals every day or to get to the supermarket to buy the right nutrients. They may encounter a loss of appetite or a decline in their senses of taste and smell. They could forget what they last had to eat or when they last ate.

If you notice a deterioration in the dietary habits of your elders, you could intervene by educating them as to the nutrients they need (and those which they should avoid), or by bringing them to the supermarket with you and helping them with their food shopping. You could also cook some meals for them if they find this difficult or even bring the family around to enjoy dinner with elderly relatives once a week.

This infographic from Be Independent Home Care (https://www.beindependenthomecare.ie/our-services/private-home-care.html) outlines how we can help our elders to eat healthily so that they will continue to feel good well into their senior years.

Falls Are the leading Cause of Death Amongst Elderly People

by: Derek Eastwood

Falls for people over the age of 65 can be fatal. Amazingly, 28%-35% of people aged 65 and over fall between 2 and 4 times every year. The issue is that a lot of these falls cause fractures and interestingly 87% of fractures in the elderly are due to falls.

This infographic from Hussey Fraser outlines what we can do to reduce to risks of falling. While there are some intrinsic risk factors, between 30% to 50% of falls are due to environmental circumstances such as poor lighting and slippery floors.

If you live with an elderly person try to look at what preventative measures you can take in the home to reduce risk of falling. Simple things like removing clutter and not having electrical cords spread across the floor could save someone’s life. Find out more about how to prevent falls now.

How Technology Keeps Us Safe

by Sarah Allen

In an ever-changing world full of technology and new age ideas, one thing that will never change is the need to stay safe. Thankfully, there are a number of resources that are designed for our modern, constantly evolving society and the new hazards that often come along with it.

This is why Nucleus and ConsumerSafety.org have teamed up to create an infographic that highlights some of the most innovative and technologically advanced products that can help keep everyone in the family safe in a world defined by the “Internet of Things” and smart homes.

Your Kids

Keeping your family safe is a top priority, and new technology is here to help give that peace of mind, including wireless security systems and safe driving apps. There’s also the amount of exposure kids have to new technologies, who often know how to use them better than their parents. Fortunately, there are now easy ways to control what kids can see or do on their devices.

Your Aging Loved Ones

For seniors who did not grow up with the technology their kids are so used to, there are products being designed with their changing lifestyles in mind — including medication management software and emergency response devices.

 When it comes to the fun activities of and engagement in everyday life, items like a home intercom system can keep families connected to one another without having to hassle with other apps or programs that come along with smartphones, giving the peace of mind to family members that their parents or grandparents are safe and doing well.  

 A home intercom and monitoring system would also be very helpful in remotely taking care of an aging loved one who may suffer from a condition such as dementia when relocation isn’t possible. In the initial stages of dementia, forgetfulness starts to become prevalent, but having the ability to keep your loved one engaged and constantly communicating can be of great benefit.

Your Pets

Most families consider their pets to be as much a part of the family as anyone else, which is why their safety is also a top priority. Thanks to technology, keeping your pet safe is easier than ever. For example, there are now countless ways to spy on your pet while you’re away, making sure they don’t get into any trouble.

Or, if your pet happens to escape your yard and run away, you no longer have to staple a picture on every telephone post in the neighborhood thanks to new tracking microchips and GPS trackers.

Check out the infographic below for more, and let us know in the comments how you and your family use technology to stay safe!

The Rewards of Having a Pet in Your Golden Years

written by Jason Lewis

Having a pet in the household can be a rewarding experience at any age. Seniors greatly appreciate the companionship and the social element of having a pet around the house. Maintaining a social bond is extremely important at any stage of life, and this is especially true during our Golden Years.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by  brenkee

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by brenkee

Over the years, multiple surveys have even indicated that community-oriented elderly adults view pet ownership as a very positive thing. Nearly every single person who was surveyed responded by saying that they feel some sort of social connection with their four-legged companions. 95% talk to their pet, 57% confide in their pet, and 79% take comfort in knowing their pet is around.

And having a pet need not be be a struggle. When bringing a new dog into your home, consider using a trainer to help you and your new pooch get acquainted with each other.

Aside from helping to establish routines, a trainer can teach effective techniques (i.e. commands, discipline, etc.) that will enable you and your dog to navigate your world together
a bit more easily.

Taking care of a pet changes the way we think and the way we care for ourselves. In fact, seniors who own pets have been shown to also take better care of themselves. Also, pet ownership might help improve mental sharpness and possibly even delay the effects of certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

Pet ownership does more than simply provide emotional support and social connection for seniors. It might actually boost their health! Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to experience high blood pressure or certain heart conditions.

Dog ownership in particular is good for promoting physical activity, even if just by encouraging people to take a few extra steps while walking their furry friend. According to the animal advocacy organization PAWS, dog owners are “way more likely” to hit their weekly exercise goals. In fact, some seniors have even started successful dog walking businesses as a way to stay healthy, earn extra income, and bring a smile to their faces during retirement.

Of course, not all seniors are able to walk their own dog - for a variety of reasons. This doesn’t mean that those seniors have to live a life without pets. Oftentimes, relatives or close family friends are willing to step in and assist with taking care of a beloved pet.

If there’s no one nearby who is able to assist, there are still probably some options. For instance, there are various dog walking services in just about every city; chances are, there’s one in your city who can help. These types of services allow seniors to maintain independence and continue happily living with their beloved pets, while someone else assists with dog walking. Hiring a professional dog walker can be quite a treat - for the dog as well as for the senior!

Life at any stage is unpredictable, and many seniors around the world enjoy the consistency and companionship of having a pet at their side each day. With all the research showing that pets are good for our health at any age, why not consider pet ownership during our retirement years? With professional dog walkers and other services to help seniors, owning a pet later in life is now easier than ever. Now, that’s something to wag your tail about!

Tips for Senior Caregivers: How to Get Your Loved One’s and Your Own Finances in Order This Year

by: Jason Lewis

When people think of caregiving for aging relatives, they often picture themselves helping with day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, walking the loved one’s dog, taking them to the doctor, or even just spending time with them each day. While these are all important aspects of senior caregiving, many people often forget that managing your loved one’s finances is also a responsibility for many caregivers.

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  Photo courtesy of Pixabay by  TBIT

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by TBIT

Whether you are new to handling your parent’s finances, or whether you’ve been doing it for years, it can feel confusing, stressful and even overwhelming at times. “Handling my mom's finances wouldn't be too difficult, I thought,” writes financial columnist, Cameron Huddleston, “Boy, was I wrong.” The pressure of managing her mother’s finances was more than Huddleston had expected.

If Huddleston, a financial columnist, still feels overwhelmed managing her parent’s money, what about the rest of us? How can we proceed with getting our loved one’s - and our own - finances in order this year? Luckily, there are a few time-tested techniques recommended by experts to help us get our money situations in order, while saving our own sanity.If you’ve recently taken over the finances for an aging parent, grandparent or other relative, it can be helpful to ask them some basic questions regarding their money spending habits and their current financial situation. Among the types of questions you should ask, it is important to know the names of financial institutions as well as all bank account and credit card numbers. Be sure to find out if your loved one has a durable Power of Attorney (POA); if not, you’ll need to go to court to become a legal guardian before you can proceed with managing their money.

Once you’ve completed the steps of getting POA or guardianship so that you can handle finances for your loved one(s), you might want to consider hiring a professional money manager. The best thing about these professionals is that they can help you not only with your loved one’s finances, but also with getting your own finances in order.

There are several different types of professionals you could hire. A few examples include:

      Accountants

      Certified Financial Planners

      Daily Money Managers

From there, you can begin the task of managing both your own finances as well as the finances of your loved one. The same general rules will apply to both situations: you’ll want to collect and gradually pay down any outstanding debts, pay for any monthly bill or expenses, get property plans in order, and use leftover money to build a nest egg and save for the future. Document everything you do.

One last piece of advice to keep in mind: you’re just offering your help with certain areas of your loved one’s life, not trying to take over every aspect of his or her life. It can be tricky navigating all the various concerns that come up when you begin managing someone else’s money in addition to your own. Handling the situation with love, care, and respect will gently show your loved that you mean well and that they can trust you. That can make all the difference in the world when it comes to caring for your aging loved one.