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.

Rise Above the Fear of Falling

By: Michael Leavy
Home Healthcare Adaptations


Falling is not a nice experience for anybody, but it is particularly frightening for older people, who are more likely not only to encounter a fall but also suffer serious injury or death from falling. In turn, they may feel fearful and apprehensive about simply being in their own home, and this fear can lead to a loss of self-confidence.

Therefore, those of us living with an elderly person have a responsibility to make the home as safe as possible in terms of reducing fall risk and to promote a sense of ‘I can’ over ‘I can’t’ in our elders. Older people shouldn’t be so afraid of falling that they are restrained from moving around their own home. It is up to younger family members to eliminate fall hazards insofar as possible and also to convince older people that they can move freely around the home. By pushing this positive mindset and encouraging our elders to partake in balance-improving exercises such as the chair rise, their fear of falling should subside and they will instead move around the home with confidence.

This infographic from Home Healthcare Adaptations (http://www.home-healthcare-adaptations.ie/stairlifts-dublin/) in Ireland shows how you can minimize the risk of falling in elderly people. 

content and infographic provided by: Michael Leavy
http://www.home-healthcare-adaptations.ie/stairlifts-dublin

Aging in Place Tax Credits Get a Step Closer

We have write-offs for energy efficiency, why not for aging efficiency?

July 20, 2016
by Richard Eisenberg

About a year ago, Next Avenue described a clever idea from Louis Tenenbaum, of HomesRenewed.org, to create federal tax credits that would help people age in place safely and independently by subsidizing the cost of retrofitting their homes. The idea just got a baby step closer.

Recently, a (barely) bipartisan group of Congressional members introduced The Senior Accessible Housing Act (HR 5254, for the C-SPAN crowd), which would provide a tax credit of up to $30,000 to people over 60 for aging-in-place modifications to their homes, such as widening doorways for wheelchairs and installing ramps, nonslip flooring, handrails and grab bars. (The credit would be nonrefundable, which means it wouldn’t be of use to those who don’t owe federal income taxes.)

Many of these modifications don’t come cheaply. Ramps can run as much as $4,000, installing grab bars and level handles throughout a home can go for $1,500 and you can spend $1,000 or so to widen a doorway.

If you can stay in your home safely, that cuts down on falls, which cost patients and insurance companies $34 billion a year.

— Louis Tenenbaum

First Federal Bill for Homeowners to Age in Place

Tenenbaum, founder of the Aging in Place Institute, believes The Senior Accessible Housing Act is the first federal bill to incentivize older Americans to prepare their homes for aging in place.

He’s over the moon.

“I love it because it exposes the issue of individual housing that needs to be updated,” Tenenbaum told me. “This jumpstarts it to a national stage.”

The bill, supported by the Alliance for Retired Americans, was introduced by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla. and a Senate candidate) and Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine). Additional co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

Said Murphy: “With many older Americans living on limited incomes, home improvements to make their residences more accessible are often unaffordable. Making it easier for seniors to make these modifications means that they can stay in their homes longer without being forced to turn to assisted living facilities or nursing homes, which can often cost more.”

Of course, introducing legislation and actually passing it are very different things. And the odds of this (or nearly any) bill becoming law in this highly-charged election year are extremely slim.

But legislation has to start somewhere. And this is one bill that just might appeal to legislators on both sides of the aisle, since 88 percent of people 65 and older say they want to stay in their current residences as long as possible, according to AARP.

The Candidates and Aging in Place

I haven’t seen either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton talk about ways to help people age in place — “It’s not on the national radar” says Tenenbaum. (Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s tax plan would eliminate nearly all tax credits and deductions, not add new ones.)

Bernie Sanders, however, called aging in place a “civil rights issue” at the Leadership Council of Aging Seniors Decide 2016 forum last February. “Clearly we should be doing everything that we can to provide resources to keep people in their own homes,” Sanders said. “Staying in their own homes is what most people would prefer and we should respect that.”

Problem is, although most older Americans want to age in place, their homes won’t let them.

As architect Duo Dickinson said at the HomeAdvisor Insights Forum on aging in place I attended last fall, “The undeniable reality is that the largest demographic bulge in America is processing through to a place where their homes will become a threat.”

Why America’s Homes Are Unfit for Older Americans

As I noted in an earlier Next Avenue post, the Bipartisan Policy Center says five universal design features can help make homes safer for older residents: no-step entries; single-floor living; switches and outlets accessible at any height; extra-wide hallways and doors to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs and lever-style door and faucet handles. But only 57 percent of existing homes have more than one of those features, according toHarvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

For those who ask: “Why should the government help cover the cost of aging-in-place modifications?” my answer — and Tenenbaum’s too — is that these fixes ultimately save money.

“If you can stay in your home safely, that cuts down on falls, which cost patients and insurance companies $34 billion a year,” says Tenenbaum. (The figure is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)

Also, Tenenbaum adds, when an older person is “rehabbing from an injury or illness or surgery, that’s often in an expensive rehab facility, because you can’t get back into your house.”

Lacking Savings to Live at Home Safely

Backing him up, and demonstrating the need for assistance such as aging-in-place tax credits: The Bipartisan Policy Center’s May 2016 report, Healthy Aging Begins at Home.

The report says: “Over the next 20 years, nearly 40 percent of individuals over the age of 62 are projected to have financial assets of $25,000 or less; 20 percent of those over 62 will have $5,000 or less. For many, this level of savings will be woefully inadequate to cover the expenses of daily living, never mind finance long-term services and supports or the modifications necessary to make living independently at home safe and secure.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center called for states and municipalities to “establish and expand programs to assist low-income seniors with home modifications through property tax credits, grants, or forgivable loans,” such as ones in Allegheny County, Pa.; Georgia; Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Don’t hold your breath, though. Tenenbaum concedes “it’s hard for us to grasp that some kind of spending now equals savings later.”

But that’s why we already have federal tax credits for making our homes more energy efficient. This year, you can claim 10 percent of the cost of certain expenses, up to $500, and 30 percent of the cost for things like solar energy systems and geothermal heat pumps.

If you want to show your support for HR 5254, check out Tenenbaum’s support letter template and write your Congressperson.

After all: if we can help people make their homes more energy efficient, why not help them make their homes more aging efficient?

 

This article can be found on Next Avenue's website here.

Respite Care: Why It Suits Both Caregiver And Patient

by Helen O’Keeffe
(all content and infographic in this post provided by
http://www.homecareplus.ie/palliative-care)

Caregivers are often so involved in caring for their patients that they neglect their own health, and the longer that continues, the more likely it is that the relationship between both parties can be harmed. Even though it may go against their innate, unselfish tendencies, there comes a point where a caregiver needs to say ‘stop’ and take a brief rest period for themselves.

If you provide regular care for someone and you find yourself becoming increasingly agitated, making poor judgements, feeling unusually exhausted or even losing your desire for caregiving, the time has come to take some respite. This can be for a few days or it can mean cutting back your caregiving time so that you have a few hours to yourself in the evening.

You’ll quite likely have forged such a strong sense of commitment to your patient that you could feel guilty about taking respite care. In the long run, it’s the best thing you can do. You want the patient to receive the best care possible, and if you feel so worn out that you can’t provide that for the time being, find someone else to take over for a short period. The patient can also benefit from temporary access to a fresh voice and, when you’re ready to resume caregiving duties, they’ll be delighted to see you back, not to mention the reinvigoration that you’ll experience.

It’s not a crime to know your limits and take a breather. As this infographic from Home Care Plus (http://www.homecareplus.ie/palliative-care) in Ireland shows, respite care is highly beneficial for both the caregiver and the patient. If you feel in need of a timeout, go for it. You’ve earned it from your enormous commitment to caregiving. 

Best cell phone and plans for seniors

Technology can be overwhelming, especially to seniors who are just learning how to use it. Just in the world of cell phones, there are so many different options (phones, plans, apps, etc.) that it can be sometimes difficult to sort through to find the best solutions. Certain phones make it easier for seniors to adapt to the idea of a cell phone and the safety benefits it can provide for the elderly. Verizon has composed a list of the best cell phones and plans for seniors:

For more details regarding plans please see Verizon's article here

Winter Weather Preparation

Have you ever been stuck on the road in a storm and had to pull over? Or do you remember the 2011 snowstorm in Chicago, which caused people to abandon their cars on the road? Winter storms seem to get more intense every year and with winter weather already here for parts of the country, it’s always good to remember that there are certain precautions you must take to stay safe. Blizzards can virtually stop cities; stranding drivers, delaying emergency responders, and even causing power outages. Usually, it is the elderly or very young who are most affected by the cold temperatures associated with winter storms. Many casualties are not directly related to the storm itself, but rather from the aftermath— elderly people stuck in their homes, heart attacks or strokes from shoveling snow, or car accidents due to unsafe roads. While it is difficult to estimate how much damage a winter storm can cause, it is possible to know when they will occur, and that vital piece of information will hopefully give you enough time to prepare.

Many people live in small towns and while this doesn’t mean total isolation during a storm, it could mean longer recovery time, so it is best to be prepared on your own. If you are at home during an extreme winter storm, make sure you have supplies that will allow you to stay comfortable and warm. If you have a fireplace, keep a pile of firewood available in case the heat goes out. Canned or non-perishable food will come in handy in case you lose power and the roads are snowed in. Emergency equipment such as flashlights and electric generators should be prepared for use and in working order.  Keep bottles of clean water for drinking and cooking because your pipes can freeze.

When you are at home, weathering the storm, you will want to receive the latest weather updates. Luckily, many smart phones automatically update users on any weather warnings, but if your phone does not do this, then you should manually sign up for weather alerts on your mobile phone or email. The Weather Channel offers free weather alerts for any area on their website. However, if the internet goes out, have a radio readily available as well. All of your mobile devices should be charged in case of a power outage.

Mobile devices and landlines are extremely important for older people who live alone. Your family, wherever they may be living, will want to know that you are safe. If they live in another state, designate a friend or neighbor as an emergency point of contact. If you are an older person that lives near loved ones, it could be a good idea to group together at one location.  Locate a place for everyone to meet when a winter storm warning is issued, depending on where you and your family are.

You should also make sure your home is ready for the winter. For example, be sure that your home’s walls and attic are properly insulated to avoid losing heat. To prevent your pipes from bursting, keep your faucets dripping. It is also important to know how to shut off your home’s water valves in case a pipe does burst. Set up emergency heating equipment, such as a fireplace with wood or a portable stove with plenty of fuel. Space heaters are helpful when used correctly. Keep your space heater at least three feet away from all furniture, flammable objects, or drapes. If no one is present in the room, turn off the heater. Never place any objects directly on a heater.

If you do need to travel in extreme conditions, or if you are stuck in the middle of a storm in your car, make sure that it is properly fitted to drive. Have your car’s radiator system serviced, use antifreeze in your car, and check your windshield wipers. If your tires have worn-down tread, replace them. It is also recommended that you keep jumper cables and chains in your car. These steps should help you stay safe during the cold winter months, and prevent an emergency from occurring.

Written by guest blogger: Jacob Edward 

Jacob Edward is the founder of Senior Planning and Prime Medical in Phoenix, Arizona. Prime Medical Alert not only operates in Arizona, but across all fifty states, including Maryland. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State's sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe, Arizona.