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10 Innovative Apps for Seniors

Our thanks to Artur Meyster for this contribution to our blog. 

Smartphones each year are farther away from being a cellphone and closer to being a mobile supercomputer. Therefore, it is undoubted that they play an essential role in our daily lives. The rapid advancements of technology have allowed developers to create apps that can make our lives easier—especially for seniors. Whether or not you are a fan of tech, below are some innovative apps that might come in handy and bring about positive impacts in your life.

1. FallSafety

The app offers help when you need it the most. With its intelligent fall detection feature, FallSafety can detect when a user experiences a fall and will automatically send an alert to an emergency contact or healthcare organization. The app takes a few seconds after the fall to send the alert, in case it’s a false alarm. The app is available for Android, iOS, and Apple Watch users.

2. Red Panic Button 

This app is for everyone to use in emergencies. If you find yourself in a threatening situation or if you worry about your safety, you can whip out this app and press the red button that will immediately send a text message and an email containing your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts. This app is especially great for seniors who have problems with mobility as it will ensure they get the right help at the right time, with just a push of a button.

3. Lumosity

Lumosity is a brain-training app that can help improve a user’s memory and focus. While we could all use a little brain teaser every now and then, seniors especially can benefit tremendously by using Lumosity as it keeps the mind active in a fun way. The app offers various interactive features to sharpen your problem-solving skills and math abilities, among others.

4. Seniors Phone

At the rate of which technology is advancing, it is understandable how some seniors might find it overwhelming. That is, however, a problem of the past. Seniors Phone is an app that changes the user interface of any smartphone to a simplified version. You can customize everything—from the size of the fonts to the buttons—to make it easier for a user to navigate the smartphone. Some other features include bright-colored widgets for better identification and an SOS button which can send a distress signal to an emergency contact. 

5. VizWiz

Many seniors have deteriorated vision which can make daily activities a real challenge. Enter the VizWiz app, which allows a user to take a photo of their surrounding and receive the corresponding descriptions. According to its developer, the app combines automatic image processing, anonymous web workers, and members of the user’s social network in order to collect fast and accurate answers to their questions.

6. EyeReader

This is another app that is meant to help individuals with visual impairments. The app is essentially a unique reading magnifier that can help many who find it difficult to read the smaller print. As we age, our visions will likely deteriorate, therefore this app can prove to be really helpful for seniors to perform daily tasks that involve reading.

7. MedMinder

MedMinder is not only an app, but it is also hooked to an automated pill dispenser. This innovative device helps seniors to stay independent by alerting them about the right time to take their medications. Its safety features ensure that pill mix-ups are a thing of the past. The dispenser will be locked at all times unless it’s time to take a pill. First, the compartment will flash, then the device will make a beeping noise before sending an alert via the mobile app. If the patient fails to take the pill at the right time, the app will notify all caregivers. 

8. LibriVox

We all love a good story but what happens when your vision starts to deteriorate and reading becomes more of a hassle than a hobby? Opt for audiobooks. LibriVox offers an extensive list of audiobooks that are recorded by volunteers, available on the free public domain for anyone and everyone interested. Users can either choose to listen to the audiobooks online or download them for later. 

9. Yesterday USA

For those who are feeling nostalgic about the old times, Yesterday USA is the perfect app for them. The app is an internet radio station that broadcasts old radio shows from the 1920s to the 1970s. Now in its 31st year, the best part about Yesterday USA is you can tune in any time of the day as it operates 24 hours. 

10. Medisafe 

Medisfe is an app that works with Machine Learning and AI. The app is for seniors to keep track of all their medications. It gives reminders of when to take each pill and also alerts users when the prescription is running low. Medisafe also lets users enter their caregivers’ information, allowing the app to send alerts if the users forgot to take a pill.

What to Do With Your Home After Transitioning to Assisted Living

Our thanks to Jim Vogel for this contribution to our blog. 

When seniors transition into an assisted living facility, there are many questions raised about the home they’re leaving behind. After spending years of their life in their house, it can be difficult to determine the best option. Generally speaking, there are three choices seniors are faced with: selling their home, renting it out, or giving it to a family member. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It would behoove seniors and their loved ones to consider their financial and overall life circumstances before deciding on one of these options.

Sell the house to pad your savings.

The traditional step to take when moving out of a home is to list it on the market and put the proceeds toward a new property. Even though you’re not going to purchase a new home, you can still use the money to help cover the cost of the assisted living facility (assisted living in California averages $3,750 a month) or to pay off prior debts.

Before listing your home on the market, it’s important to take note of the average price of similar properties in your area to help determine what to do with your own (Alameda homes have been selling for an average of $979,000 over the last month). You want to avoid missing out on potential earnings from underpricing and prolonging a sale due to asking for too much. If you have the resources, hiring a real estate agent can also be a great way to sell your house smoothly.

Entrust it to a family member.

If you don’t like the idea of losing your home or renting it out to tenants, you can always entrust it to a family member for safekeeping. You’ll be able to maintain ownership of the property without having to worry about maintenance or upkeep. You might even find a relative willing to live in the home while paying a small fee. You’ll have the benefit of monthly income without the hassle and responsibility of dealing with renters.

Some seniors may want to go a step further and legally transfer ownership of their old home to a family member. This can be done immediately following your transition into an assisted living home or set up for a posthumous transfer of ownership. Either way, you can be sure that the home is taken care of and stays in the family.

Find tenants for a monthly income.

It’s a sad fact that millions of seniors in the United States are struggling financially, but if you’re willing to put in a little effort, your old home can be an excellent source of passive income.

The first step to turning your home into a rental property is making any necessary updates and renovations to make it livable and appealing. Next, you’ll need to find reliable tenants with good credit scores, little to no debt, and no criminal history. You may also have to hire a property manager to care for the property while you’re away. It can be a small yet necessary cost for seniors who don’t have the physical ability and time to keep a rental property up and running.

Moving into assisted living raises many questions about what to do with the home you’re leaving behind. When you have such an emotional connection to your home, it can be difficult to make the right choice. Before making the final call, make sure to consider your current circumstances and think about which option is most suitable.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Simple Ways to Relieve Insomnia Without Prescription Medication

Our thanks to Gabriel Patel for this contribution to our blog. 

Sleep disorders are surprisingly common. In fact, Science Daily says about one in four Americans struggles with insomnia every year. It’s normal for things like work stress, major life transitions, and emotionally upsetting events to trigger brief episodes of insomnia. Even something as simple as an old mattress or a noisy new neighbor can cause sudden sleep problems.

Fortunately, 75% of people with acute insomnia will recover without developing persistent or chronic sleep issues. The best part? You don’t need to reach for addictive sleep medications to resolve your battle with sleeplessness. Here are some simple but effective ways to improve your sleep naturally.

Invest in a New Bed

Old mattresses are a common cause of sleeplessness and are sometimes the culprit behind health issues like sleep apnea and allergies. If you’re finding it hard to get comfortable at night or you’re waking up stiff in the morning, a new mattress can make a world of difference in your sleep quality.

Finding the right mattress is a must, so read some online reviews before purchasing a bed to ensure your new investment will be a good fit for your sleep style and body type. For example, mattresses made by Tuft & Needle tend to provide better support for petite and medium-sized sleepers but can cause too much sinkage for people over 250 pounds. Whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach is also important to keep in mind during your mattress search.

Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule

If you go to bed at different times every night, you may be fighting against your body’s natural internal clock. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule every single day—yes, even on weekends! This will help condition your body and brain to start winding down at the same time every night. You should also find it much easier to wake up on those early weekday mornings if you avoid sleeping in on the weekends.

If you need your weekend sleep-ins to catch up on missed sleep during the week, try to go to bed earlier. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night! While this might mean going to bed much earlier than you’re used to, it’s vital to happy and healthy daytime functioning. If you have trouble getting on track, you can use your phone to remind you.

Engage in a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Going to bed right after writing emails to clients or dealing with family stress will leave your mind reeling for hours after your head hits the pillow. Separate your daytime stressors from your bedtime with a relaxing routine.

Start your routine at the same time each evening. Engage in activities that you find calming, such as gentle yoga, meditation, reading, or listening to a podcast. It can also help to begin your routine by writing a to-do list for the following day, so you can get any lingering obligations or responsibilities out of your head for the night. Recent research reported by CTV News found that people who wrote a thorough to-do list before bed fell asleep faster than those who did not!

Avoid Stimulation Before Bed

It’s important to keep stimulating activities far away from your relaxing bedtime routine. Electronic devices, for example, emit a stimulating light wavelength that can interfere with your sleep-triggering hormones, so staring at them can be counterproductive. High-intensity exercise and heavy meals right before bed can also keep you awake.

If you need a snack, reach for sleep-promoting foods like yogurt or tart cherry juice. Most importantly, avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bed. And while alcohol is not a stimulant, it can also interfere with your sleep quality and lead to waking in the night.

Suffering through an episode of insomnia can be very frustrating. While it may be tempting to reach for a quick fix in the form of medication, adopting healthy sleep habits will serve you much better in the long run. If nothing you try is helping, consider making an appointment with your doctor to get to the root of the problem.

Age-Related Stressors and How They Affect Your Quality of Life

Our thanks to Kent Elliot for this contribution to our blog. 

Stress can affect us at any age, but seniors are often triggered by different types of stressors than kids, teens, and adults of other ages. For instance, the American Institute of Stress (AIS) explains that some of the most common stressors among seniors include the loss of a loved one, changes in personal relationships, and physical impairments affecting the five senses. For some older adults, the lack of structure in their daily lives can become problematic as well.

While some strategies for senior stress management may include a combination of meditation, yoga, exercise, healthy eating, and controlled breathing, other treatments include antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Since recommended treatments vary widely by situation, it’s important to speak with a doctor about your symptoms and the different types of solutions that may be available to you.

Read on to learn more about the stressors that most seniors face, as well as the steps you can take to get the emotional support you need when managing any ongoing worries and fears.

Common Stressors Affecting Seniors

For many seniors, difficult life situations can result in feeling stressed, fearful, or emotionally unwell—especially if they begin to notice changes in the ability to walk, talk, hear or see. Many seniors also experience stress after the development of an age-related health condition or mobility impairment, as this may lead to the fear of losing the ability to live independently, age in place, or drive a vehicle.

Changes to finances or socioeconomic status—especially after retirement—may also cause seniors to worry about their financial standing more than ever before. Depending on their financial situation and current state of health, seniors may even worry that they cannot afford to support themselves as they age. However, working with a financial advisor and setting a budget may help to ease some of those worries.

Moreover, the loss of loved ones or any change in their personal relationships is another common stressor among seniors. For many older adults, the fear of losing a child, spouse, pet, or another loved one is more worrisome than the thought of their own death. However, speaking with a trained mental health professional can help seniors to control their fears and develop a plan for the future.

How to Get the Emotional Support You Need

Anxiety disorders in seniors may occur as a result of extreme stress, trauma, bereavement, neurodegenerative disorders, or other medical conditions. As such, it’s important to identify your stressors and know when to seek professional help for chronic stress, anxiety and/or depression.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 19 percent of adults age 60 and older take an antidepressant medication for relieving symptoms of stress, depression, and/or anxiety. While some seniors may be able to control their stress without the use of antidepressants, it’s important to meet with a doctor to discuss your symptoms as soon as you begin to worry about your emotional health and well-being.

If the cost of seeking professional help for your emotional health is holding you back, however, keep in mind that Medicare Part B includes coverage for counseling with specialists such as psychiatrists and clinical social workers, as well as other mental health services. Plus, Medicare Part B provides you with one free depression screening each year. To schedule your free screening, contact your primary caregiver.

Relief from Age-Related Stress is Possible

Stress affects us at all walks of life, but our ability to cope with stress becomes even more difficult as we age. As such, it’s important to seek immediate treatment for stress to reduce your risk of heart disease and other stress-related medical conditions such as high blood pressure. By seeking treatment for your stress, anxiety, and/or depression, you will improve your quality of life and prepare yourself for any other obstacles that may come your way.

Why Are Seniors Turning to CBD?

This blog is contributed by Matt Scillitani of remedyreview.com

CBD, or cannabidiol, has been studied as a substitute for everything from anxiety cures to pet medication, and this natural aid isn’t just for the young. There’s interest in CBD among those aged 54 and older.

We studied over 1,000 seniors, 54 years old or older, and asked them questions about their CBD usage, associated benefits and side effects. Read on to hear what these mature men and women had to say.

Not So Stuck in Their Ways

Nine percent of the seniors surveyed used CBD for health-related purposes. Over 65 percent of the seniors who tried CBD said their quality of life was good, whereas just 31.1 percent said the same before trying CBD.

Skepticism may have kept 91 percent of the interviewed seniors away from CBD, but those who gave it a shot reaped its rewards. Seniors who tried it admitted that CBD prompted a dramatic improvement to their quality of life.

Ingestion Options

Fifty-four percent of seniors applied CBD by directly inserting it into the mouth. For the next most popular administration method, 21.1 percent chose to eat CBD-infused edibles and add oil drops to their beverages. The least popular ingestion method was through smoke or vapor, utilized by only 10 percent of our senior CBD users.

The CBD Hit List

Forty-two percent of seniors used CBD with the goal of reducing inflammation. Relief from chronic pain was the second most-cited incentive. Anxiety and stress were cited as the fifth and sixth most common symptoms, respectively, that seniors attempted to alleviate via CBD.

Senior Symptoms Alleviated

Chronic pain saw a 61 percent reduction rate among seniors using CBD. As added bonuses, 23.3 percent experienced a better mood and 45.6 percent noticed improved sleep quality.

This data clearly encourages CBD as an alternative healing tool. Seventy-eight percent of seniors said they were satisfied with the product, and 89 percent said they would recommend CBD for health-related purposes to a family member or friend.

Over or Behind the Counter?

Twenty-six percent of the seniors think they personally consume too many prescription drugs. CBD provides a safe alternative and has piqued interest because of it.

The effectiveness of these remedies is what won over our seniors.  Nearly 29 percent rated CBD as extremely effective, while another 38.9 percent claimed it was moderately effective.

The Next Budding Market …

Interest from all varsities of age have led to CBD’s booming market. Symptoms like chronic pain can be remedy motivators for seniors, while stress and anxiety cures attract many modern health gurus.

Methodology and Limitations

We collected responses from 1,047 seniors by administering online surveys through Prolific.ac. For this analysis, we have defined seniors as adults aged 54 and older. Respondents who were younger than the designated age were excluded from our findings. To ensure data accuracy, participants who failed an attention-check question or entered inconsistent data were excluded.

The main limitation of this study is that different sources have varied definitions for the age ranges that qualify as “seniors.” Additionally, the self-reported nature of our data is subject, but not limited, to selective memory, exaggeration, or telescoping. These findings have not been reviewed or approved by medical experts and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out and listening to a primary care physician.

Disclaimer

The findings shown in this study are not medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for seeking out primary care providers. This study is based on anecdotal evidence and relies on self-reported data.

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Our thanks to Lydia Chan for this contribution to our blog.

With National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month upon us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your life as a caregiver. So much of your time is spent tending to the needs of others that it’s all too easy to forget about your own needs as a result. Many caregivers, particularly those who help people with Alzheimer’s, find it difficult to practice the self-care necessary to maintain their health and well-being, which results in them feeling depleted and discouraged on a daily basis.

Whether you’re a caregiver by profession or are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, taking care of yourself is critical. It will not only help you live a thriving life, but it will also leave you with more to give so that you can be a better caregiver. Here’s the good news: Practicing self-care will not be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done. All it takes is a commitment to make small changes and implement healthy habits.

Here are a few practical tips for how you can begin your self-care journey as a caregiver.

 Consider Assisted Living for Your Loved One

This isn’t a fun topic to think about. But at some point, assisted living may be necessary. Depending on the circumstances, it could be the best thing for the well-being of you and your loved one. Not only could it take some of the burdens off of you (the caregiver), but a memory care home can help your loved one maintain their independence, stay active, and engage in community. Such a facility in San Francisco can cost between $2,500 and $15,200 a month.

Eat Well. Get Sleep. Exercise Often.

This is really three tips, but they are all intertwined. Eating a healthy diet can benefit your sleep and provide you with more energy to exercise. Getting enough sleep can help you eat better, and it allows your body to recover, which boosts your exercise performance. And yes, regular exercise promotes sleep and can motivate you to eat better.

Try to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Create a bedtime routine that helps you get seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy, and try to do it five times a week. If you commit to these changes, it won’t take long for them to become habits, and the benefits will amaze you.

Find a Multivitamin That Helps

As much as eating a healthy diet benefits your overall health, there’s a chance that your body will still be missing nutrients here and there. A bioavailable multivitamin can help provide those nutrients. Along with filling nutrient gaps, taking a multivitamin can result in a healthier gut, skin, hair, and nails. If you take a B vitamin, you will have more energy for a more productive day.

Join a Support Group

Another important way to practice self-care is to find a support group. There are many caregiver support groups around the country — some that are for caregivers in general, and some that are specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers. By connecting with a group, you will find a listening ear and sound advice from people who have gone and/or are going through the same kind of situation as you are. Support groups can serve as a great reminder that you’re not alone.

In the throes of everyday life as a caregiver, it’s essential that you not neglect your self-care. Consider whether it’s time to move your loved one into a memory care home. Establish healthy eating, sleep, and exercise routines, and take a multivitamin to boost your overall health and well-being. Finally, find a support group that provides you with the companionship you need.

Image via Pexels

Hacking Longevity Market Trends & Consumer Preference

Article Originally Published in Aging Today Newspaper of ASA.org

September-October 2019, Vol xl No. 5

There now is heightened interest in serving the longevity market, as evidenced in The Business of Aging’s 2018 study, Hacking Longevity: A Three Generation Look at Living a 100 Year Life (tinyurl.com/yxdsle49), which painted a landscape of opportunity for companies that can speak authentically to older con­sumers, and help them navigate later life.

 Many companies have built products for different generations of older consumers.

Though the needs of and opportunities to serve this consumer cohort are recog­nized and well-researched, some compa­nies steadfastly chase the youth market, assuming more money and opportunity lie there. Also, new companies and tech­nologies tend to target wealthier older consumers—those who can pay regardless of insurance reimbursement. Companies’ offerings could (and should) have more wide-ranging social impact and greater results with low-income adults, particu­larly those of more diverse backgrounds who may be managing multiple chronic conditions, who are more at risk for social isolation and who may not have technolo­gy to assist in their care. Nonprofit organizations can partici­pate in these marketing opportunities by educating young companies about the re­alities of older adults’ lives, and by work­ing with for-profit companies to provide distribution and pilot programs, bringing new products and services to more vul­nerable older consumers. Many companies claiming to target older adults have built and marketed products to at least two different genera­tions of older consumers and-or caregiv­ers, likely the Greatest and Baby Boom generations. But members of these co­horts differ in how they age—and in how they perceive their aging. Thus, it is criti­cal that companies access key consumer insights, especially because people, as they age, can’t always relate to the brands they once valued, thinking that these brands no longer speak to their needs.

Market Opportunities and Trends Solutions for the Greatest Generation were designed for a “birds of a feather flock to­gether” mindset—think suburban living and resort-style senior living—whereas baby boomers require curation: they value individuality and specialized approaches.

The personal health and fitness con­sumer category is growing. While older generations prefer group programming, the newer generations of older adults pre­fer personal trainers, individualized meal programs and customized vitamin and supplement regimes. With high rates of obesity and diabetes, companies in this space are poised for growth.

Experiences are king. The Baby Boom Generation ushered in the “age of experi­ences,” and technology has enhanced this trend’s growth. Sometimes the language of experience is “memory-making,” espe­cially when it involves a family’s multiple generations. From adventure travel to food and wine to family vacations, older adults prefer to share experiences instead of gifting “things.” They also share these experiences via social platforms or within family circles. This sharing impetus ex­tends to exploring family history and heri­tage, hence the growth of genealogy sites and DNA testing.

A preference for “little luxuries.” The new older adult appreciates not just peak experiences, but also top products— luxuries that span from gourmet ice cream to home wine cellars to designer bifocals to a meal in a celebrity chef’s restaurant. In­herent in all things experiential is sharing the experience on social media.

Home maintenance has created an in­dustry of gig workers who provide services older adults are unwilling to do or can’t do. Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and TaskRabbit all cater to this market. The segment of this home services economy ripe for innovation is the home organization–de-cluttering business. Organizations do exist, e.g., the National Association of Senior Move Man­agers, but this is a fragmented industry. Young families don’t want their parents’ furniture, collectibles and memorabilia. And, as older adults downsize and want to get rid of possessions, there is enormous (and growing) market opportunity.

Home is the center of care. As the ma­jority of older adults plans to age in their homes, professional homecare providers seek innovative ways to deliver care and services supporting the daily activities of older adults and their family caregivers. Applications for voice-activated devices (e.g., Amazon Echo and Google Home) that enable aging in the home are increas­ingly popular, as are services such as gro­cery delivery, medication reminders, care support and rides.

Products that have been used in the home for years are being re-engineered for aging at home. Consumers and care­givers are thinking about toileting and cleaning, maintaining odor control and keeping the home clean and infection-free. Expect robotics to assist with mun­dane in-home tasks.

Pet ownership is on the rise. The Baby Boom Generation has the highest divorce rates and the most aging singles. Pet owner­ship, as a means to avoid social isolation and loneliness, is more prevalent in this cohort. This indicates soaring sales of high-end pet food, pet insurance and accessories. This market also has created a service economy around in-home grooming, dog walking and sitting, veterinary services and more.

Financial services. The 2018 Hacking Longevity study revealed elders’ lack of understanding of financial products for retirement saving and, like other studies, showed that the Baby Boom Generation is understandably stressed about having enough money as they age. There is inno­vation around annuities and reverse mortgages, but these products have re­ceived mixed reviews, so selling any new versions is difficult. Consumers need more education to understand these prod­ucts’ uses and value.

The cannabis market has a Wild West feel to it.

Cannabis and CBD for pain manage­ment. The biggest category of consumer interest over the past two years is canna­bis and CBD. As states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, older adults are embracing it for pain management, help with sleeping and more. CBD prod­ucts have flooded the market with little evidence of efficacy for all of the claims made. This category has a Wild West feel to it, as start-ups appear daily; there is no clear market leader, but revenue projected by 2022 stands at $32 billion.

Companies in these trending catego­ries seek partners, just as they do inves­tors. While it can take for-profit and non­profit businesses time, imagination and key consumer research to create valuable partnerships, consumers benefit most from a careful development process. n

Lori Bitter is a marketing, research and development consultant, speaker and au­thor in the Bay Area, and author of The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boom­ers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Ithaca, NY: Paramount; 2015).

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.

 

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.

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!