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20 Awesome At-Home Hobbies with Health Benefits for Retirees and Older Adults

Our thanks to Tamara Segal for this contribution to our blog.

Older adults playing games

Today, more than 45,000 people in the U.S. are receiving their Social Security benefits. While some retirees prefer to maintain part-time jobs that don’t conflict with their benefits or retirement plans, many others are uncertain about what to do with all the time suddenly thrust in their lap. 

While many older adults dream about the day they can hang up their 9-to-5 workdays and long commutes, they may not know precisely how to spend each day once work no longer encompasses their time. On average, seniors spend under 10 hours each day sleeping, and that leaves quite a bit of time for leisure activities once their daily chores are completed. 

The average senior has roughly seven hours of leisure time each day, according to the Wall Street Journal, and half of that is spent watching television. Unfortunately, TV watching is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, and that’s not great for anyone’s health. In order to maintain their physical and mental health—even give it a boost—retirees can embrace new hobbies that are good for both their physical and mental well-being. Here, we’ve outlined some fun retirement hobby ideas with great benefits for seniors.

Why Is It Important to Have a Hobby, Particularly after Retirement?

Older adults playing chess

No matter where they live or their financial status, seniors of all walks of life can benefit from having a hobby that they enjoy. A hobby that involves movement or supports mental agility can support seniors’ cognitive function or physical health. The amount of time that a person should devote to their hobby is, of course, entirely subjective. After all, it’s not always possible—or preferable—to fish all day in the hot sun or fish during the winter months. On the other hand, it is important to allocate plenty of time to a hobby—or even several hobbies— that can enhance the body and mind. The health benefits associated with many hobbies are undeniable. Gardening, for example, offers health benefits like sunshine, which provides the body with vitamin D and boosts serotonin production for a better, more stable mood). It also requires movement, such as bending, walking, and light lifting, which helps you maintain physical fitness. Other health benefits associated with hobbies include:

  • Stress reduction and stress management
  • Challenges the brain (which can improve functions mental functions like memory)
  • Supports the immune system
  • May support mobility
  • May support weight management
  • May improve social connections (which can enhance mood)

Physical hobbies, such as ballroom dancing or yoga, offer a wide range of health benefits, including reduced blood pressure, improved heart health, and reduced risk for mood disorders like depression. Seniors should consider their health needs and choose a hobby — or a few hobbies — that will support their health where they need it most. 

20 Hobbies That Offer Health Benefits for Seniors

Older adult on a laptop

These are some popular hobbies that seniors and retirees love and rely on to support their physical and mental health. Many involve little or very little expense but offer a tremendous amount of enjoyment, social engagement, or other benefits that are important to retirees. 

1. Learn a new language

Learning a new language offers therapeutic cognitive benefits like delaying or reducing the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This type of learning can support memory, information comprehension, and self-confidence. 

2. Knit, crochet, or sew

Although these hobbies aren’t associated with physical activity, they can help retirees maintain their mental dexterity and provide great stress reduction. Some seniors even monetize their knitting hobby by creating products for local craft fairs or their Etsy shops.

Older adult sewing

3. Gardening

Gardening offers both physical and mental health benefits — and a bounty of produce and flowers. Not only does it support heart health and mood; it may even help reduce the risk for dementia, according to AARP

4. Embrace technology

Seniors certainly can keep up with their tech-savvy grandkids if they want to. Retirees can download apps that support their other hobbies. For instance, download apps to listen to audiobooks while gardening, or post pictures of artwork on Instagram.

5. Join a virtual or in-person book club

Older adult using a tablet

Speaking of books, many seniors enjoy reading. There are library book clubs as well as virtual book clubs that are designed especially for seniors or readers of specific genres, like mysteries or literature. Book clubs offer social interaction, reducing stress and promoting a feeling of connectivity.

6. Learn a new instrument

Playing an instrument such as the piano, organ, or violin supports an individual’s dexterity. Of course, these pastimes are also enjoyable and can enhance a person’s mood or lead to better stress management. 

7. Paint

Painting is a great way to pass the time. It offers seniors improved stress reduction, enhanced dexterity, and promotes self-confidence. Seniors have many different styles to explore, including watercolor, oil, and acrylic painting. Taking an art class is another way to support this hobby and establish new social outlets.

8. Mentor a child or college student 

Maintaining connections with the outer world is important for seniors because it can reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation. While seniors can mentor online, they can also attend area community centers that welcome retired volunteers and mentors.

9. Write a memoir

Retirees are a fount of knowledge and experience. That knowledge and those experiences can be invaluable to family members but they might also be worth sharing with others. Many retirees spend time writing memoirs for different purposes—to record their life story or share their professional knowledge with people in their former work field. Writing promotes mental agility and stress reduction.

 10. Create and maintain a blog

We’ve already mentioned how writing can help seniors maintain their active minds, but blogging about topics like cooking, gardening, or traveling encourages seniors to maintain their active lifestyles. Blogging is also a great way to connect with people of all ages.

11. Animal care

Older adult with a cat

Many retirees combine their love for pets with volunteering at area animal shelters. Others opt to pet sit for some supplemental income. Animals can keep seniors from feeling lonely and show them how needed they truly are when it comes to the care of animals and pets.

12. Restore or build furniture

Carpentry and furniture restoration isn’t as active as dancing, but they can keep seniors moving and active. Many retirees look forward to the day they can spend all day at their woodworking bench or getting to projects like reupholstering old chairs. Hobbies like these help seniors stay creative and physically and mentally active. 

13. Meditate or Do Tai Chi

Activities like Tai Chi and yoga feature a strong meditative focus. This means that these pastimes support both physical and mental health. They enhance agility and flexibility while decreasing stress and improving mood. Attending classes for these hobbies is a great way for seniors to get out of their homes and meet with other people.

14. Photography

Seniors who love to be outdoors might want to improve their photography skills. Photography pairs well with many hobbies, like bird watching, artmaking, and blogging. Some retirees become quite serious about their photography and even rely on it for extra income. Like other forms of art, photography can improve mood and help reduce stress.

15. Chess

Chess has long been associated with seniors and retirees, but you don’t have to visit the park or the local coffee shop these days to enjoy a game. There are online chess clubs where seniors can improve their game. Chess is an effective way to promote mental dexterity — it may even help reduce the risk for dementia. 

16. Crossword puzzles and other games

Like chess, crossword puzzles can help retirees keep their minds active. Games that involve thinking are helpful for warding off dementia and supporting memory and overall cognitive health.

17. Cooking or baking

Older adult at the kitchen sink

Both men and women retirees look forward to the days they can spend all day in the kitchen perfecting heirloom recipes or cooking for family and friends. Cooking can reduce stress, but the simple acts of standing, bending, and stirring can also help seniors burn calories and stay mobile.

18. Walking club

Many neighborhoods are home to senior walking clubs. Walking offers both mental and physical health benefits such as weight management, cardiovascular health, mood improvement, and immune system function. Many communities feature trails specially designed for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. 

19. Start a collection

Many retirees have a passion for collecting. Whether it’s baseball cards, art, or vintage jewelry, these collections encourage seniors to get out to flea markets and estate sales. It may help them to stay active online as they scour auction sites to find their treasures. 

20. Dancing lessons

Dancing classes for adults have made a huge comeback due to the popularity of shows like Dancing with the Stars. Many community centers, as well as dance studios, feature dance classes for seniors that include ballroom dancing or even modern dance.

Each individual has to assess their own physical limitations and needs when choosing these or other hobbies. The main thing is that retirees be deliberate about allocating time to their hobbies and sticking with them to enjoy their benefits. It’s a priority for all seniors to maintain or improve their health, and participating in enjoyable pastimes such as these can certainly help. Other hobbies to keep in mind include fishing, scrapbooking, volunteering, genealogy research, tennis, bicycling, golf, geocaching, swimming, building models, origami, jewelry making, and taking online courses on a topic of their choice. 

Connecting on a Budget: Video Chat Solutions for the Pandemic

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

Learn more about the mature consumer market at The Business of Aging.

The longer the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, the harder it is to remain isolated from friends and family. However, for older adults and other vulnerable groups, traveling and attending big family gatherings is still too risky. The need to connect safely during the pandemic has given rise to a demand for affordable, user-friendly video chat technology for older adults. But while tablets and gadgets are cheaper than a plane ticket, they still put a dent in older adults’ budgets.

How can older adults reap the benefits of social technology on limited budgets? These cost-saving solutions keep older Americans connected through the pandemic.

Free Apps for Staying Connected

For older adults on a tight or limited budget, free apps are the best place to start. Free apps for the social distancing era include the following:

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is a great tool because most of us are already on Facebook. In addition to chatting with friends, Facebook Messenger supports video calls for up to eight people and Rooms for 50.

FaceTime

FaceTime’s biggest drawback is that it’s only available on Apple devices. But for Mac users, this free iOS app is one of the simplest out there.

WhatsApp

Big family? WhatsApp supports group chats for up to 256 people so everyone stays in the loop. WhatsApp also supports video calling for connecting face-to-face.

Skype

Skype is another video chat solution that works no matter what type of device or operating system you’re using. Skype supports one-on-one or group video and voice calls.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is the best app for families separated by time zones. Rather than chatting in real-time, Marco Polo lets users send video messages that can be stored and viewed any time. While Marco Polo’s premium version costs $5 a month, users can access the app’s core features for free.

Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party)

Whether families want to view a new release or a holiday classic, Teleparty lets them do it together with synchronized playback and group chat. Users need a Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or HBO subscription to watch, but the Teleparty app itself is free.

How to Save Money on Video Devices

When it comes to new technology, older adults prefer to keep it simple. Devices with complicated interfaces and batteries that constantly need charging are likely to end up in a desk drawer.

Tablets and smart displays are the best options for video calling. More comfortable than tiny smartphone screens, these gadgets are both feature-rich and easy to use. Unfortunately, they’re also pricey: Most smart displays start around $200. These include the Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub, and Facebook Portal. Meanwhile, popular tablets like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to $1,000-plus.

Two notable exceptions are the Echo Show 8 and Fire HD. While these devices offer smaller displays than the other options, at around $100 they’re great options for buyers on a budget. Alternatively, buyers can wait for price drops on the most popular video calling devices. Watching the Daily Deals at Best Buy is a great way to get a steep discount on new technology. Shoppers can also use a Best Buy discount code to save at any time.

Not everyone wants to purchase a new device to video chat. Whether they’re minimalist or just on a budget, older adults can upgrade their video calling experience without spending hundreds. Many of the most popular webcams, including the Logitech C310 and Microsoft LifeCam, cost less than $50 and come with built-in microphones. A ring light or LED light panel ensures even lighting and good video quality at any time of day.

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected. While some older adults assume anything high-tech is out of reach, connecting face-to-face during the pandemic is more accessible than you might think. Whether an older adult has $50 to spend or $1,000, there’s a video calling solution that’s right for them.

Five Fun Activities To Do With Your Grandkids

**Please practice social distancing and wearing masks if/when needed for these activities.

Our thanks to Cristin Howard for this contribution to our blog:

Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.

Visits from grandchildren are a joyous occasion. There’s nothing quite like the hugs, snuggles, and smiles your grandkids bring when they come to see you.

However, the initial excitement can quickly wear off and kids, as they’re prone to do, might start complaining that they’re bored.

While being bored isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’d like to have some fun suggestions for when your grandkids come to visit, look no further.

We have compiled a list of five fun activities to do with your grandkids!

Take a Walk

Getting out and moving is good for every generation, and there are significantly less breakable items outside on a walk than inside.

If your house is on a busy street, or doesn’t have a sidewalk, consider driving to a nearby park or trail to take your walk.

Walking with kids is a surefire way to get them talking, and you’ll be surprised how quickly they start to chatter about all the things going on in their lives.

Depending on the ages of your grandchildren, expect bouts of running interspersed with stopping to look at bugs, leaves, acorns, and exciting cracks in the cement. Exploration is good for kids, and they’ll definitely remind you how to stop and smell the roses!

One advantage of going for a walk is that it’s an outdoor activity.  So, if you put on a mask and practice social distancing, this one is on the safer side of the spectrum.

Do a Puzzle

Puzzles work for kids of almost any age (once they’re past the toddler stage) and with a wide range of size and piece numbers, you’ll be able to find a puzzle that can entertain several people at once, even with a wide age range.

Younger kids can help with more challenging puzzles by sorting out like pieces and having them try to put together a small portion of the puzzle.

Puzzles themselves have a few extra perks. One is that you can talk and catch up while working on the puzzle, but it takes some of the pressure off when it’s quiet as well. Another is that a puzzle is a come and go activity. This works well for kids with short attention spans, or when parents need to get dinner ready or change a diaper.

Get in the Kitchen

Yup, that’s right, get those kids in the kitchen! If you have some skills (or just a little bit of knowledge) and enjoy whipping up tasty treats, then invite your grandkids to join you when they come over.

Don’t worry if you’re not a great chef. Even making slice n’ bake cookies together, or cooking a box of macaroni and cheese can be a great memory for both you and your grands. The kitchen is an excellent place for kids to learn new things and family traditions, histories, and recipes are often passed down through shared cooking experiences.

Another perk to spending some of your visit in the kitchen is that kids are more likely to eat when they help cook. Learn their favorite foods and encourage them to try new things at the same time!

Trade Technology Secrets

While it’s true that the younger generations typically know the latest and great technology tricks, grandparents often have a few apps and ideas of their own that they can share with their grandkids.

Playing with different apps or even learning how to use technology better is an easy and educational way to pass the time with your family. If your grandchild is an artist, they can draw you on a drawing tablet and send you a digital copy, or if they love to code, ask them to show you some of their creations.

There’s always something new to learn and do when it comes to technology, even if it’s just putting together a playlist to share your favorite songs!

Read a Book

A classic for a reason, reading a book never gets old, and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed at every age. Maybe your grandchild is learning to read and wants to read their favorite story to you, or perhaps you have a favorite book that you would love to share with the next generation.

Either way, sitting down and reading a book is entertaining, educational, and creates some common ground to help spark conversation later on in the visit.

If it’s hard for you or your grandchild to read aloud, consider using one of the audiobook apps to listen to a story or podcast together. There are so many to choose from, both long and short, that you’ll never run out of material!

This is actually a great activity for current times as well.  Even with social distancing in place, setting up a Zoom or Facetime call to do a little reading can work quite well.

Zoom Calls, With An Agenda

Depending on their age, your grandchildren might or might not have the patience and attention span for a long conversation.  But, that doesn’t mean that Zoom calls can’t still be fun. They key it to have a few different ideas ready to make the best use of your virtual time together.

One idea is to tell a few jokes. You might pick up a children’s joke book and read a few near the beginning of each call. This is a great way to get things off to a good start.

You can also play games like Twenty Questions.  Games like this can be a lot of fun and a great way to spend quality time from kids, even when you’re not in the same room.

Make Visits Count

If you feel pressured to make sure your grandkids have a fun time with you, take a deep breath and relax.

Kids have a way of finding things to do and the most important activity when you’re together is spending time and making memories. And for that, you don’t need to plan much of anything!

How Technology is Extending Life at Home For Older Adults

Our thanks to Karen Smith for this contribution to our blog

Bio: Karen Smith has been working for MePACS as the Head of Sales and Marketing for the last four years and has over 20 years experience in health, technology, digital and finance industries.

No one enjoys getting old, but unfortunately it happens to all of us eventually. More older adults are choosing to age at home, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The countless virus outbreaks in aged care homes have made people wary about putting their aging relatives into these facilities. In Australia, a survey that was conducted this year found that only 15% of Australians between the ages of 60 and 80 trusted the aged-care industry.

While older adults are happier living at home, this comes with its own challenges as families can be concerned about their elderly relative’s safety. In the US, 27% of people aged 60 and over live alone and more prosperous countries tend to have smaller households. Technology is able to support independent living for older adults by keeping them safe, helping them with daily tasks and staying in touch with others.

As we age we tend to go out less and it’s estimated that older adults spend 80-90% of time at home. This means that the chances of having an accident are much more likely to occur around the home which is why many older adults are starting to embrace smart technology that is helping to keep them safe.

The global population is aging

By the year 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65 according to the United Nations. Advances in healthcare and technology are also allowing people to live longer, which will put increased strain on hospitals and aged care homes. We need home healthcare technology to meet the demands of our global aging population.  

Unfortunately, getting old comes with a higher chance of health problems. Some common conditions that happen with old age include:

–   Hearing loss

–   Cataracts

–   Diabetes

–   Dementia

–   Heart disease

–   Back and neck pain

It’s not uncommon for a person to experience many conditions at the same time. People who are overweight, have an unhealthy diet or don’t do exercise can also be more likely to develop health conditions later in life.

We now have smart technology that can monitor heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels without even needing to see a doctor. It’s important to note that technology isn’t a replacement for seeing a healthcare professional, but rather a way of collecting and tracking personal data so you can make an appointment to see someone if something is wrong.

Devices that help older adults stay safe

While there are many devices available on the market that are helping older adults to age at home, here are a few that deal with key issues affecting people in the older age bracket.

Smart kitchen appliances

Kitchens can be a dangerous place for older people, which can be due to:

–   Forgetting to turn off a tap or switch off an appliance which could lead to water overflowing or starting a fire  

–   Falling over with a hot object due to lack of balance

–   Forgetting how to use something in the kitchen due to a medical condition

If you’re looking to make your kitchen or a family member’s kitchen safer, there are smart stoves and ovens that can automatically shut off if they detect smoke. There are some devices that can also detect motion in the kitchen, so if someone were to walk away and leave the stove unattended, it would automatically switch off.

There are also a number of other devices that can make the kitchen a safer place including smart refrigerators that monitor food consumption and can alert you when supplies get low.

Smartwatches with fall detection

While medical alerts for fall detection are nothing new, a stylish smartwatch with automatic fall detection is much less bulky. The added bonus is that the wearer has all the benefits of owning a smartwatch including telling the time, in-built GPS and fitness tracking that can motivate them to do daily exercise.

Falls are the most common injury in older adults and they can have devastating consequences. Not only can they cause hip fractures or broken bones, but they can cause a person to lose confidence in their own ability. If the person is unable to move and lives alone, help is difficult to get which is why a fall-detection smartwatch can be a life-saving device.

Medication reminders

Many older people can be on several types of medication. Forgetting to take medication or doubling up on doses can have serious consequences, which is why technology can help to alleviate this problem.

Smart speakers that include a voice-activated virtual assistant can be set-up to remind the person to take their medication. There are also smart sensors that can be placed around the home that use artificial intelligence to learn the movements of a person and can alert them if they forget to take their medication or remind them that they have already taken it.

For those that are more forgetful, there are automatic pill dispensers that can be filled up by a caregiver or a family member so that the person cannot access the pills unless they come out of the dispenser.

Data privacy concerns

Any device that collects its own data and can communicate via a network is part of the ever-growing gadgets known as the Internet of Things (IoT). When it comes to collecting health data, this raises concerns about regulation and who has access to this data.

For example, an older adult with health conditions might be happy to share their personal data with their doctor but wouldn’t want that same data being shared with a third-party.

While virtual assistants and home sensors are improving the lives of older adults wishing to live at home, there is growing concern about what companies are doing with all that data.

As our society comes to rely more and more on technology to make our lives easier, the industry needs to design tough privacy regulations to keep vulnerable adults safe.  

After decades of denial, pandemic is making Minnesota baby boomers feel their age

By Kevyn Burger Special to the Star Tribune

Baby boomers, the generation that refuses to age, might have met their match in the coronavirus.

Marilyn and Juan Galloway exchanged a look that many married-with-children couples might recognize.

Their 22-year-old daughter had just dropped an unintentional bombshell, one that left them equal parts amused and wounded.

“She said, ‘If you guys get COVID, you’ve lived your lives,’ ” said Marilyn, of White Bear Lake. “She was dead serious, like, ‘You’re elderly and at the end of the road.’ We were stunned. We’re 55 and 63. We run, golf and bike. We’re more active than our kids. At the age that my grandmother wore a housecoat, I spiked my hair and dyed it purple.”

For baby boomers, it seems that COVID-19 has done what self-denial and evidence to the contrary has been unable to do: make them feel old.

For the generation whose youthful battle cry was “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and who prided themselves on remaining relevant as the years accumulated, being lumped in with the cohort regarded as frail and vulnerable has come as a shock.

“The pandemic has been a reckoning for baby boomers,” said Scott Zimmer, a speaker and trainer for Bridgeworks, a Wayzata consulting company that advises businesses on generational dynamics.

Based on sheer size, the 76 million American boomers, now between ages 56 and 74, have been courted by marketers since their postwar arrival. They have reframed every life stage they’ve passed through and were in the process of rewriting the script for their retirement years when the coronavirus arrived and stripped away their pretensions.

“They retain a youthful spirit and don’t want to slow down like previous generations. They take on encore careers and find new activities to be passionate about,” Zimmer said. “Now they’re forced to acknowledge that they’re not invincible. Even if they’re in great shape, they can’t deny that their age puts them in greater danger if they catch the virus.”

Dings and Dents

Writer Bill Souder’s upcoming biography of novelist John Steinbeck is titled “Mad at the World.”

That could also describe the 70-year-old author’s feeling about the way his age group is characterized.

“ ‘Seniors.’ ‘Elderly.’ I don’t like those terms. ‘Your sunset years.’ The labels they attach feel like they are trying to erase you. The message is that when you get older than a certain age, you’re in this other category. You are diminished, a fossil,” he said. “I don’t belong in that club.”

Souder has preferred to define himself by his activities rather than his age.

“I ride my bike, I still wade a trout stream. Last year I got a new hunting dog to trudge through the forest and fields with me. I do the same things I did when I was 40, but a little slower,” he said. “I’m like a golf ball. I’ve got dings and dents, a little asthma, a little heart disease.”

Since the arrival of the virus, Souder’s pre-existing conditions, previously regarded as minor and manageable, have prompted him to act with caution. He’s isolating in his home in Washington County in the company of his wife, their adult son who’s quarantining at home following a furlough and Sasha the wire-haired pointing griffon.

“At a certain age you are at an elevated risk and you have to live your life differently,” he admitted. “The science is clear. I can’t spin it.”

Ageism at the Root

For many boomers, the pandemic is revealing, even cementing, some long-held negative stereotypes associated with aging.

“They are experiencing ageism with the assumption that a number — their age — is the defining marker,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, a national association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “They may have experienced ageism in the workplace, but not in their day-to-day lives. They’re seeing how the contributions of older adults are undervalued and underappreciated.”

Age is just a number, but how that number is perceived is subjective. As people get older, the definition of “old” changes. In a Pew Research Center study, only 21% of those between the ages of 65 and 74 said they felt old, and just 35% of those 75 and older self-identified that way.

Advances in medical science in the past half-century have created a longevity revolution that is giving Americans not only longer life spans, but more years of good health. Still, anyone north of 55 is often lumped into the same age category.

Lori Bitter believes that happens out of “ignorance or laziness.”

The president of the Business of Aging, a California consultancy that advises companies marketing to mature consumers, Bitter thinks the older demographic needs to be sliced thinner.

“There’s not enough understanding that 65 and 85 are vastly different, just as people who are 50 and those who are 65 are nowhere in the same territory. Some of the language used for this vast, diverse group is ridiculous,” she said.

“Companies and others trying to speak to the different ends of the cohort need to distinguish between them,” she said.

It’s a fine point that the pandemic does not take into account.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “the greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older,” the CDC also generalizes with the statement that “As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases.”

That means that in the foreseeable future, taking the threat of the virus into consideration may cause baby boomers to live more constricted lives.

“We really don’t want to get it, so we are being conservative,” said Souder. “We don’t touch our kids. We sit in the backyard. All bets are off on when that will change. But I’m not bedridden, I don’t have one foot in the grave. I’m here and a high-mileage version of myself.”

Kevyn Burger is a Minneapolis-based freelance broadcaster and writer.

This article is originally featured in StarTribune.

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.

Media Release: Entrepreneurs In $7 Trillion Longevity Market Learn Insights On Investors, Distribution And Marketing At What’s Next Longevity Business Summit

 

 

Entrepreneurs in $7 Trillion Longevity Market Learn Insights On

Investors, Distribution and Marketing at What’s Next Longevity Business Summit

Conference Keynoted by Expert in Aging, Ken Dychtwald;

Powerhouse Speakers from AARP, NIA, Ziegler Link·Age, Home Instead

 

ATLANTA, January 30, 2020 – The What’s Next Boomer Longevity Summit kicks off its 17th year as the premier curator of 300 thought leaders in aging – this year here in the ATL – to network and learn about the trends, innovations and opportunities addressing the consumerism and needs of adults age 50+.  The one-day conference will feature power-packed panels on the conference theme of “Mobility, Memory, Money and Marketing,” all focused on capitalizing on the $7.6 trillion longevity economy.

Executive produced by Mary Furlong & Associates (MFA), the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit is known for delivering an expert forecast for success in entrepreneurship. Attendees will learn from panelists such as investors Ziegler Link·Age, Nationwide Ventures and Portfolia on how to obtain funding; opportunities in deal-making with distribution partners such as Home Instead; customer insights and market research trends from top research agencies, innovative programs driving dementia care and brain health and more. This year’s keynote address, “The Next Wave: How Boomer Retirees Will Redefine Money, Consumerism, Family, Work, Housing, Mobility, Health and Success” will be delivered by one of the visionaries in aging, Ken Dychtwald, author and co-founder of AgeWave.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my latest ideas on which industries, products, and services will dominate the emerging longevity marketplace—many of which are hiding in plain sight,” said Dychtwald. “I’ll be covering everything from medical technologies on the horizon that have the potential to dramatically transform health and aging – to how aging Boomers’ time affluence will re-define the travel and leisure, housing, education, media, and financial services industries.”

In addition, author Maddy Dychtwald who is co-founder of AgeWave, will moderate an inspirational panel of business women discussing female economic influence and fiscal makeovers for 2020 and beyond.

Attendees learn trends and insights, but also valuable business coaching such as how to scale a business, leveraging senior housing and transportation deals, delivering for home as the new health hub, using emerging technology including VR, Voice First and AI to change consumer habits and enhance workforce development, understanding fintech and privacy issues, changes in  MedicareAdvantage reimbursement models, how to incorporate aging vitality and caregiver wellness into a business model, marketing success using content development and social media, designing with aging in mind and more.

What’s Next Longevity Business Summit Comes to the A to Focus on Longevity Economy Trends

“For 17 years we have been diving into markets in longevity and we see 2020 as an important milestone where women are at the epicenter of purchasing power globally as well as building innovative businesses to address an aging society,” said Mary Furlong, a successful entrepreneur and author in aging who has made the What’s Next conferences the must-attend events in the longevity economy. “Knowing what priorities investors have for funding, how to build distribution partner pipelines, building a business based on strong research and how to create and leverage innovations in marketing are the cornerstones of what our event delivers for attendees.”

What’s Next Longevity Business Summit is co-produced by Lori Bitter, founder of The Business of Aging, and Sherri Snelling, CEO of Caregiving Club and has been held concurrent with the American Society of Aging’s annual Aging in America conference for the last 17 years. This important partnership offers attendees both conferences: one a comprehensive look at aging, the other is the Summit’s select smaller learning and networking event of thought leaders in longevity. The Summit lead sponsors include: AARP Innovation Labs, Great Call, Ageless Innovation, CareLinx, VitalTech, Medterra CBD, Business of Aging, Susan Davis International, Caregiving Club, iN2L, Hamilton CapTel, Home Instead, myFamilyChannel, SilverRide, Outpatient, Noboscu Technology, Nationwide, Portfolia, Embodied Labs, Caremerge, Stay Smart Care and Thrive. See the event agenda and full list of speakers and sponsors at: boomersummit.com

Media Contact:

Phyllis Weiss – Weiss Communications, Inc.

weiss@weiss-communications.com

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About Mary Furlong/Mary Furlong & Associates

Founded in 2003, Mary Furlong & Associates (MFA) is a strategy, business development and marketing company. A serial  entrepreneur, Mary founded SeniorNet.org, and ThirdAge Media (acquired by Ancestry.com), prior to MFA. For 17 years, Mary has produced the industry leading What’s Next Longevity Business Summit and Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, adding the Washington Innovation Summit and What’s Next Canada in recent years. Author of Turning Silver into Gold, How to Profit in the Boomer Market and The MFA Longevity Market Report, Mary has been recognized by ASA, Fortune, Time and as one of the top 100 Women in Silicon Valley. She is an adviser to the Ziegler LinkAge Fund, CABHI and numerous start-up companies in addition to her private client practice.

About Lori Bitter/The Business of Aging

Lori K. Bitter provides strategic consulting, research and development for companies seeking to engage with mature consumers at her consultancy The Business of Aging. Her current research, Hacking Life Shifts, in collaboration with RTI research and Collaborate, was championed by AARP, and funded by Proctor & Gamble, Bank of America, Unilever and others. She is a 2017 Influencer in Aging, named by Next Avenue and author of The Grandparent Economy. She was president of J. Walter Thompson’s Boomer division, JWT BOOM, the nation’s leading mature market advertising and marketing company and led that firm’s annual Boomer marketing event for five years.

About Sherri Snelling/Caregiving Club

Sherri Snelling is a corporate gerontologist and founder/CEO of Caregiving Club, a strategic consulting and content creation firm focused on biopsychosocial aging, Alzheimer’s and caregiver wellness. Her innovative wellness programs include the Me Time MondayTM and 7 Ways to Caregiver Wellness workshops. She is the author of A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care, a contributing columnist and national speaker on caregiving and has done work for AARP, Keck Medicine of USC, UnitedHealthcare, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, LifeCare, QVC. She was chairman of the National Alliance for Caregiving and is on an Alzheimer’s Association board.

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.

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.