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Assisted Living or Aging in Place? How to Choose

Our thanks to Caroline James of elderaction.org, for this contribution to our blog.

 

Where to live when you’re elderly is the type of decision you want to make before life forces you to do so. If you don’t, you may discover you have fewer options than you’d hoped. Seniors who have a disability are sometimes unable to return home, and without time to spare, they have no choice but to move into whichever care facility has space.

Unfortunately, it’s also exactly the type of decision you want to avoid. No one likes thinking about losing their independence or developing an age-related disability. However, you can’t ignore the fact that two in three seniors will need long-term care as they age.

So, how do you choose where to live and receive care when you’re older? These are the three most important factors to consider.

Location

Some communities are more suited to aging in place than others. For instance, seniors who live near medical facilities, caregiving agencies, public transit, and other important amenities have an easier time aging at home than rural seniors.

Care Needs

Seniors who need a lot of daily support benefits from assisted living, where they don’t have to worry about coordinating and budgeting for in-home care. On the other hand, seniors in good health can retain full independence by aging in place. So, consider your health today and how it may change in the future; if you have chronic health conditions or mobility problems now, you’re more likely to need full-time care later on.

Cost

Assisted living averages $48,000 a year — and that cost is steadily rising. While expensive, assisted living may cost less than you’d spend aging at home. At $22 an hour, the average cost of part-time care is lower than assisted living, but seniors who need round-the-clock care can save money by moving to assisted living.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living communities offer a supportive living environment where seniors can get help with day-to-day activities, such as taking medications, preparing meals, and managing personal care. Many assisted living facilities offer perks like fitness centers, gardens, and spas.

Since every assisted living community has its own personality, you’ll want to tour several in the San Francisco area before making a decision. Keep in mind that different communities offer different levels of independence. While some have communal facilities and cater specifically to seniors needing in-home care, others offer apartments and studios for seniors who are still self-sufficient but want some basic assistance with housekeeping and healthcare. Prices also range widely in San Francisco, with assisted living costs ranging from $1,695 to $11,270 a month. Factor your budget and your needs to narrow your search for the right assisted living facility.

How to Age in Place

If you’re in good health, you may be thinking of aging in place. However, are you sure your home is the right one to age in? While most seniors prefer to age in place, many don’t live in a home suited to senior living. They might not pose an obstacle now, but staircases, narrow doorways, and dimly lit spaces become a safety hazard in your 80s.

Some seniors opt to remodel their current home while others choose to buy a new house better suited to aging in place. When making your decision, consider not only the cost but also convenience. The cost savings offered by downsizing may be modest, but moving to a newer home means fewer repairs to worry about during retirement. You’ll also be able to settle in within weeks instead of waiting months for a remodel to finish.

Whatever you choose, don’t wait to think about where you’ll live when you’re older. If you decide to move to assisted living, you’ll need time to prepare your budget and find the perfect facility for your golden years. And if you decide that you want to age in place, starting now means you have many years to enjoy your ideal home.

 

How to Find the Best Shoes for Older Adults

Our thanks to Clarissa Rivera of Taos Footwear, for this contribution to our blog.

Finding the right shoes for older adults can be tricky, but doing so can help older adults maintain an active lifestyle which will contribute to better health and a better quality of life.

Whether you decide on a pair of supportive sneakers or comfortable sandals, your best bet is to find a pair that matches your needs and helps you stay active. The wrong shoes, on the other hand, can be uncomfortable, not to mention dangerous, so it’s crucial to find the right pair for the right activity.

Below are a few essential things to remember and look out for when shoe shopping.

 

Feet change

Feet change in shape and size as we get older, which means we can’t wear the same shoes that we wore in our twenties – no matter how much we spent on them, or how much wear they appear to have left in them.

It’s quite normal for your feet to get wider or more swollen as you age. However, we recommend talking to your doctor about any changes you notice, to make sure they are not related to an undiagnosed medical condition.

Get rid of your old shoes

Shoes lose their support and cushioning over time, so replace them when you see wear on the sole, upper, or inside. If your shoes are pinching your toes, then that is a sign of a poor fit, so you should get rid of them to avoid further problems.

Older adults who have less feeling in their feet are in a much more vulnerable position, as they might not feel the pain associated with a poor fit. So, we would suggest changing your shoes every year or 18 months – depending on how much wear they get – just to be on the safe side.

What to wear indoors…

Yes, staying in counts as an activity, so it’s important to prepare your feet for staying indoors too. Walking around barefoot or in just a pair of socks isn’t ideal. Shoes or sturdy slippers should always be worn around the house, as they will not only protect your feet, but they will also help with mobility.

However, slip-on slipper styles and flip flops should be avoided in older age, as it’s extremely easy to step out of them and trip. Flip flops can also cause damage to the toes and toenails, so they should be left to the younger generation.

Choosing the right shoes for the right activity  

The first step to choosing new shoes as an older adult is to be clear about what you want them for. Walking shoes are very different to running shoes, and running shoes are very different to dress shoes, so make sure you tell the salesperson and whoever is helping you what they will be used for.

The second step is to ensure that they are comfortable before you leave the store. If you are looking for walking shoes, go for a walk around the store. The same goes for running shoes. They can be worn in gradually once you get home, but they should fit somewhat comfortably when you first try them on. Here are just a few more things to look out for when shopping…

 

Make sure you are happy with the length, width, and capacity of the shoe, as well as its shape. The salesperson should be able to trace the outline of both of your feet while you are standing; the outline can then be used against the shoes in the store to find the right pair.

 

One foot could be bigger than the other, so always choose a size that fits the larger foot. The smaller foot can then have an insole placed inside the shoe for the perfect fit.

 

The fabric of the shoe is extremely important, too. We recommend choosing a shoe with an upper section made of either soft leather or heavy fabric.

 

The back of the shoe shouldn’t be neglected in your search either, as it should stabilize the ankle and the heel. If possible, the heel should be compressible, low, and broad.

 

The sole is also one of the most important things to consider, as a thick, solid sole is crucial to mobility. Those with Parkinson’s often find that smooth soles help them move more easily. Non-skid soles, found in most sneakers and sports shoes, provide good traction. Silvert’s sells a range of adaptive footwear that could greatly benefit older adults. Shoes with extra depth to help with orthotics, shoes that are adjustable for older adults who suffer with foot swelling, and shoes with anti-slip soles are just a few examples.

 

Pay attention to how the shoe fastens.

Someone who cannot tie their laces may be more comfortable using VELCRO, or a buckle that can be adjusted by hand, foot, or cane. New Balance makes shoes with hook-and-loop closure, as a helpful alternative to laces. Some models are Medicare-approved as diabetic shoes too.

 

Socks are just as important.

Be sure to team your new shoes with a good pair of socks. Choose sweat-wicking socks that are anatomically-shaped, as they can reduce your risk of developing blisters. Your local sports or running store should have a good selection of appropriate socks.

 

As you can see, choosing shoes for older adults might require a little bit of extra thought, but the results of finding the best shoe are more than worth it.

 

The 2019 Guide to Medicare

Our thanks to Danielle Kunkle, for this contribution to our blog.

Though Medicare has been around since 1965, there are changes each year that affect your premiums, copays and deductibles for the next year. Sometimes there are also legislative changes that can impact your benefits. Let’s look at an overview of Medicare for 2019.

Medicare Has 4 Parts

Original Medicare includes Part A hospital benefits and Part B outpatient benefits. You enroll in these two parts via the Social Security office during your Initial Enrollment Period which begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month. Part A covers inpatient hospital, hospice and skilled nursing. Part B covers most other medically necessary services on the outpatient sides, such as doctor visits, lab testing, emergency care, physical therapy, chemotherapy and much more.

In1997, the Balanced Budget Act also created Part C, which is the Medicare Advantage program, which we’ll discuss more below

The most recent part of Medicare is the voluntary prescription drug program that we call Part D. This will help to reduce the cost of your retail prescriptions.

Medicare Doesn’t Cover 100% of your Costs

Although Medicare covers the majority of your healthcare expenses, you are responsible for some cost-sharing. This includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. On the outpatient side, Medicare only covers about 80% of your covered procedures, and you are responsible to pay the other 20%. For this reason, most people enroll in additional coverage to help them with their cost-sharing. There are two primary types of supplemental coverage: Medigap Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans.

Medigap plans are also known as Medicare supplements and these plans pay after Medicare. In most states, you can choose from one of 10 standardized Medigap plans. These plans allow you to treat with any Medicare provider nationwide and you don’t have to choose a primary care doctor.

Since Medigap plans don’t include outpatient drug coverage, you would enroll in a standalone Part D drug plan as well.

Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) is optional coverage in which you can get your Medicare Part A and B benefits through a private insurance company that offers a network of providers. These plans often have lower premiums than Medigap plans but you’ll pay copays at the time of service for various medical services.

Between Medicare and the right supplemental coverage, you can rest assured your benefits will cover you well without breaking the bank.

Finding Success as an Older Entrepreneur

Our thanks to Rae Steinbach, from fueledcollective.com, for this contribution to our blog.

Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, much of the 2000s has been dominated by younger entrepreneurs who have changed our personal and business lives in a number of ways. From the rise of social media to the increasing popularity of remote work and coworking spaces, entrepreneurs have had a marked impact on society.  But contrary to how our current youth-oriented culture may seem, one can begin to build a great company at any age.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common causes of new business failure is a lack of relevant skills and experience. Older entrepreneurs, as you’ll see, are often in a better position than ever to take a chance on the idea they’ve been dreaming about and watch it grow into a successful business.

 

Why Older People Make Successful Entrepreneurs

Seemingly everyone has a million-dollar idea that could change the world, but very few of us are able to navigate the business world and make it a reality. People who have spent more time working and gaining experience are generally able to hold a more realistic view of their goals, expectations, and needs.

Younger entrepreneurs also face difficulties in attempting to build a business while dealing with the financial and personal responsibilities that come with being in your 20s or 30s. Starting later in life means having more time, money, and resources to devote to your business.

 

Creating a Business

No matter how old you are, leaving an existing job for the unknown is a major risk that requires serious consideration. Half of all businesses fail within five years, so it’s crucial to be realistic and impartial when thinking about the costs and benefits of starting your own company.

When you do decide to branch out, you’ll also have to judge how much of your personal money to spend on the project. Unlike those in their 20s and 30s, older entrepreneurs generally don’t have as much time to replenish savings and retirement funds if the venture doesn’t turn out the way they hoped.

If your startup targets millennials or younger demographics, you may benefit from hiring some employees who can provide valuable insight into that market. Understanding how to capitalize on your strengths and find people to support your weakness is crucial to managing any business.

Starting a company is a massive undertaking for anyone, and that’s especially true for older entrepreneurs. That said, the experience and knowledge that come from decades in a business environment often prove even more valuable in a startup context. These strategies will help you build your company from the ground up and put you in a position to reach your goals.

 

 

Giving Gifts That Make a Difference

I get to take a look at products designed for older adults every day. This year I brought technology from two companies I have known since their start-up days into the homes of my parents.

Technology

After the passing of my step-dad, my Mom decided she wanted a medical alert device. We turned to Greatcall and Lively.  As I knew it would be, the service she has received has been exceptional. My Dad, who lives in a rural area, expressed an interest in some sort of device to stay in closer touch with us. He was especially missing all of the photos of his newest great grandson. Knowing that he is not tech savvy, we were reluctant to put an ordinary tablet in his hands. Instead we turned to GrandPad. Because of his location, the set-up proved difficult, but the service was excellent, we were communicated with about solutions, and understood the issues. I am happy to be the influencer on these purchases, and to experience the service models these companies have created.

Comfort & Joy

While I live and work in the world of technology, I’ve been working very hard this year to uncover things being created for older adults that bring joy, comfort and fun. There is plenty of investment in technology that solves for the dissonances of aging. There is not nearly enough focus (or funding) on joy. My short list of gift ideas is focused on this theme!

Give Loved1

Loved1 is subscription gift box for older adults that contains items focused on wellness and happiness. The difference is that the items are carefully curated to encourage engagement between the sender and receiver. Subscribers, usually the adult children, receive an email about the items in the box and an Engagement Guide filled with ideas to promote rich conversations and fun interactions. Subscriptions come in 12, 6 and 3 box options. This is the perfect gift for your family member living in a community to encourage family members of all ages to visit and engage around fun activities; and if you are long distance caregiver, the items in the box create conversations beyond the basic check-in calls. You can listen to my friend Paul Vogelzang’s Podcast with Loved1’s Joe Adams to learn more.

Bridges Together

Bridges Together is the go-to organization for intergenerational engagement. They offer training and tools to help individuals and communities embrace and create a truly age-integrated world. Schools, communities, and companies use the Bridges curriculum to create all types of intergenerational activities. Founder Andrea Weaver calls intergenerational engagement “an inoculation against ageism.” Become part of the age integrated movement and subscribe here. You can see the outstanding “How To Guides” that are part of your subscription. If you are looking for a fun stocking stuffer, or a way to stimulate non-political discourse over the holidays, check out the Grand Conversation Cards. This deck of cards has thought-provoking questions for people of all ages to encourage deeper conversations among multiple generations of family. These are great for the dinner table (sans devices), for workplace training, or you can play one of the games that come in the How To Guide.

 

Clothing That Comforts

Jan Erickson created Janska from a dream about a jacket. She had an older friend who had become disabled from a series of strokes. The hospital gown became her wardrobe and Jan wanted to create something to keep her warm and also restore her “personhood” during this difficult time. That jacket that Jan sketched from her dream launched a made-in-America clothing company with five collections and accessories sold nationwide. The Clothing That Comforts line is the embodiment of Jan’s philosophy that clothing does matter, and that soft, warm pieces provide dignity that can be lost when you are facing a health or mobility challenge.

I gifted my Grandmother with the Lap Wrap Shawl and the MocSocks. (I love the MocSocks too!) Imagine the joy that the cozy fabrics and beautiful colors will bring to your loved one!

 

However you celebrate the season, I hope you and your family have love, joy and fun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Your Mental Health a Priority After the Loss of Your Spouse

Our thanks to Elmer George, Elderville.org,  for this contribution to our blog: 

A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer and spent her final days in hospice. I must admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye-opening. My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief, while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share my experiences with others.

The loss of a spouse is a devastating life event. For seniors, many who have been with their partners for decades and decades, it can be an enormous blow to their mental health. Not only do you face crippling sadness, loneliness, and depression, but you have to cope while also handling final arrangements, dealing with life insurance policies and the will, and doing what you can to avoid clashing with family. That’s why it’s vital that you make your mental well-being your #1 priority during this trying time.

Don’t try to speed up your grief

“Numerous research studies have demonstrated spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to later problems, including depression, chronic stress, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Psychology Today.

It is counterproductive to try to convince yourself to get over your grief, or to listen to people who tell you that there should be a time limit on your mourning. While prolonged depression stemming from the loss of a spouse can lead to health problems, attempting to suppress grief can also be incredibly detrimental. Know that you are allowed to feel sad, and never try to speed up your grieving process.

One of the best ways to begin the grieving process is to have a service for your spouse. Whether the service is a funeral or for cremation, this is an important first step. A service honors your spouse, brings family together, begins the healing process, and may bring loved ones the closure they need.

Avoid short-term fixes that can become bad habits

You might think that it’s okay to develop a few bad habits because you’re just getting through the hard times and these new habits aren’t part of your normal lifestyle, just part of the grieving process. But relying on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or overeating to help you cope with your emotional pain is even more dangerous for seniors than for younger people. Alcohol, for example, exacerbates mental health problems like anxiety and depression and is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but seniors tend to already be on more medications, which can have negative interactions with other substances.

Focus on eating right and exercising

The best thing you can do for your brain is to eat right and exercise. Getting enough physical activity helps our brain produce chemicals that improve our mood. What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and if you feed yourself subpar fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. If you want to help your brain battle depression and anxiety, stick to a healthy diet and be sure to get at least 30-45 minutes of moderate activity per day.

“Research in humans shows that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to healthy cognition,” says the National Institutes of Health.

Force yourself to be social

When dealing with the loss of a spouse, many seniors tend to self-isolate. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Talking with family and friends is one of the best ways to overcome excessive grief. “The most compassionate self-action you can take is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need,” says Oprah.com. Another way to talk to people about your grief is to join a grief group or seek counseling. These options may be available either locally or online.

There is no magic bullet for dealing with the devastating grief that comes with losing a spouse. But if you make a point to focus on your own mental health, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

About Elderville.org:

Elderville.org is a resource guide for everything related to seniors. We connect our readers to reliable sources on the internet so they don’t have to spend time searching. We have safety tips for daily activities, and resources that range from healthcare to volunteering.

Article & quick links provided by ElderVille: https://elderville.org/

Find your helpful quick links here for Seniors:

Can I Get a Mortgage if I’m Retired?
https://www.creditsesame.com/blog/mortgage/can-i-get-a-mortgage-if-i-m-retired/

A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors and Their Loved Ones
https://www.redfin.com/blog/seniors-guide-to-downsizing

Should You Own or Rent a Home in Retirement?
https://www.fool.com/mortgages/2017/05/04/should-you-own-or-rent-a-home-in-retirement.aspx

Home Modifications Increase Senior Safety
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/home-modifications-increase-senior-safety.htm

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-save-for-a-down-payment-on-a-house-1289847

7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas That Increase Home Value (And What To Avoid)
https://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value/

Home Construction & Design Techniques for Child Safety
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/child-safety-home-design-and-projects/

How to Deter Burglars: Keeping Potential Robbers Away From Your Home
https://www.asecurelife.com/how-to-deter-burglars/

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.

Transition & Transformation: Navigating Your Third Act

Join us for interviews with thought leaders on aging and business. Join us on Tuesday March 27, 2018 at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco California for a full morning dedicated to your life and career, featuring a team of expert guides, authors, and coaches to help you find what’s next. Think of it as a three and a half hour investment in you. Over the next 4 episodes, we’ll talk with Keynote speaker, author of the new book, “Jolt,” Mark Miller, we’ll discuss reinventing your career at midlife with John Tarnoff, of Boomer Reinvention. We’ll be speaking with Sandra Hughes, Sandra Hughes Consulting, about shifting from the BIG job to Your Own Business, and finally, we’ll hear from Rich Eisenberg, managing editor of Next Avenue about The Art of Making it in the Gig Economy. Join me today in welcoming to the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit Podcast, produced by the Business of Aging for What’s Next, Managing Editor of Next Avenue, Where Grown Ups Keep Growing, and host of the Your Next Avenue Podcast, Richard Eisenberg.

On my radar: Death Cleaning

On my radar are trend bytes – a gathering of observations – that indicate a larger trend is at work. 

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for a boomer-focused blog. It’s a hot trend right now. In my research I consistently hear older adults say that they have a lot of stuff. They tell me it keeps them from moving and “rightsizing” their living situation. They say it makes them depressed. Most of all they tell me their kids don’t want their stuff! After hearing about the Kondo method on television, I thought I’d check it out. I tried it in my own house (and am continuing to use it)! It is freeing to rid yourself of things you no longer wear or use.

Just this week, I was sitting in on a focus group for my latest project and heard of a twist on this idea. When asked about their passions, one woman in the group said she was really excited about “death packing.” She went on to describe a process similar to Kondo’s but is about gradually getting rid of things so that your loved ones don’t have to.

What is Death Cleaning?

The process, called Death Cleaning, is Swedish. The Swedish word is dostadning. It means slowly decluttering your life until you die; it generally begins in your fifties and is done so no one else is responsible for your leftovers! There is also a book about it by Margareta Magnusson, titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter.

We have a television show called Hoarders: Buried Alive and consignment shops have successfully sprung up across the nation. In some cities, there are waiting lists for self-storage units, even though there are 50,000 storage facilities in the U.S. — five times the number of Starbucks. That’s 2.3 billion square feet. The backyard shed business is a lucrative one – 25% of people with two-car garages can’t park a car in one. We use eBay, craigslist, and NextDoor to unload things.

It’s a Trend!

Richard Eisenberg wrote an excellent article on the trend for NextAvenue called, Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff. This quote is particularly startling:

“For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” referring to our oldest population and the boomer generation.

With the youngest of the boomer generation in their mid-50s, there are years of opportunity ahead for companies who can help people plan, organize, store, and get rid of their possessions. I wrote about this trend for MediaPost a year ago and heard from many people going through this with their parents. There are high tech and no tech solutions here, some with very little start-up cost for the solopreneur. What do you think about the issue of being “over-stuffed” and the idea of death cleaning? I would love to hear from you!

 

Lori to speak at ICAA Conference in Orlando

Lori Bitter will moderate a panel on “The intergenerational imperative” at the ICAA Conference 2017. Bitter and colleagues will dive deeper into the companies, organizations and new initiatives working toward an intergenerational future. This session will explore the latest research, look at the workplace and importance of purpose, and provide a case-study view of successful projects.

Friday, October 13, 3:15 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

To learn more about the conference or to register, visit ICAA.