Whether you are a senior facing a terminal illness, or a person preparing for the natural end of his or her life, advance care planning can help make sure your medical care aligns with your values and wishes. In the event where you’re incapacitated or too sick to make your own decisions, advance care planning documents can express to doctors and other healthcare providers what treatment you do or do not want to receive. They can also legally designate a person to make medical decisions on your behalf, whether it be a family member or friend who understands and can communicate your care preferences and beliefs.
Advance care plans can be developed at any time, and should be revised and updated in accordance to a person’s health and life circumstances. For seniors who have a terminal or chronic illness, their advance care plans will likely revolve around their disease’s trajectory and how their medical condition progresses overtime. Creating a comprehensive advance care plan will alleviate the stress that comes with sudden changes to a person’s health, and help outline what medical treatment he or she wishes to receive during the different stages of their disease or illness.
Discussions surrounding end-of-life care are easy to avoid, but having advance care documents will put you in the driver’s seat of your own health. If you or a loved one is in the process of creating an advance care plan, here are some of the important documents you should include:
As people grow older, it is common for them to experience medical conditions that accompany aging. Over time, adults may find that their eyesight is a little weaker, their joints are more swollen than usual, or they begin to misplace objects more frequently than before. Fortunately, these experiences are all normal parts of aging, and can be prepared for with the right help and resources.
What many older adults don’t realize however, is that caring for their emotional health can be just as important to maintaining their overall wellbeing. According to a U.S. Health and Retirement study, 43 percent of Americans aged 60 and older reported feeling lonely, while a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that nearly “one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.”
Despite being related, loneliness and social isolation are not the same. Loneliness is a person’s subjective feelings toward their perceived lack of belonging and companionship. Social isolation is objective and is measured by factors such as the size of their social network, how frequently they communicate with members in their network, and more. For seniors and older adults, both loneliness and social isolation have been recognized as important public health issues, as they can lead to an increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, depression, and dementia, and stroke.
Overcoming social isolation and loneliness is not an easy task — especially during a global pandemic. With federal and state recommendations of social distancing and self-isolation, many older adults have been unable to see their friends and family this past year. Even with the rising number of vaccinations around the world, many seniors may not be ready to return back to pre-COVID world, making isolation and its health consequences a difficult problem to solve. Luckily, in today’s digital age, technology offers a powerful solution to help seniors feel less alone and detached from others. If you or your loved one is looking for better ways to connect with friends, family, and others, consider these 3 tech-related resources to help adults combat loneliness and social isolation:
According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people worldwide have dementia, with nearly 10 million new cases every year. Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a single disease, but an overarching medical term used to describe a variety of disorders and injuries caused by abnormal brain changes. Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia typically causes a progressive decline in a person’s cognitive ability. Depending on the stage of the disease, their memory, reasoning and judgment, sense of time and place, balance, communication, and other cognitive skills can become severely impaired. A person living with dementia may forget how to do basic tasks like turning off the water or using the phone, which affects their ability to live independently and poses a serious safety concern — especially in emergency situations.
Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia is a multipart process that likely requires professional assistance. However, there are a number of home adjustments you can make to maximize safety and prevent potential injuries. To ensure your loved one’s living spaces are safe and easy to navigate, consider these 4 safety tips to creating a dementia-friendly home environment:
For older adults contemplating aging in place, the saying “home is where the heart is” rings especially true. According to an AARP survey, “nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible.”
However, many are also aware that aging in place is not a decision to take lightly. With age comes an assortment of medical conditions that make independent living challenging, including balance loss, reduced vision, and increased risk for fall. Without proper support networks and home modifications designed to accommodate health concerns, aging in place can even be dangerous for seniors.
Luckily, with today’s technological advancements, smart-home devices can serve functions essential to independent living. While they cannot account for every challenge that accompanies aging in place, they can help assist with daily tasks, ensure safety, and provide peace of mind for caregivers and loved ones who are away from home. Most smart-devices can also be activated remotely with a smartphone, which can help limit unnecessary movements around the home that can lead to injury. If you or a loved one is considering aging in place, here are 4 smart-devices that can help facilitate the transition to a safer living space:
As you or a loved one grow older, it is important to plan for potential risks and injuries that may accompany aging. Falling, in particular, is the leading cause of injury among elderly people, as medical conditions such as reduced vision, loss of balance, and slower reaction times make seniors more susceptible to falls.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four older adults will fall in the United States each year, and about “3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.” However make no mistake — falling is not a normal part of aging, and can be preventable with a few easy adjustments to your home and day-to-day living routine. To start planning how to prevent fall injuries for seniors, consider these 4 simple steps:
In planning their future, it has become increasingly common for older people to stay in their own homes rather than move into senior living communities. According to a 2018 AARP survey, 3 out of 4 adults ages 50 and older want to remain in their homes as they age, but only 46 percent believe that they are able to do so. Medical conditions that arise from aging, such as balance issues, reduced vision, and decreased mobility that make senior living challenging for those without the proper care and assistance.
Fortunately, with the right help and modifications, senior individuals can transform their living spaces to better accommodate age in place living. According to the United Disabilities Services Foundation, aging in place design is rooted in principles of universal design, which “focuses on creating environments that are safe and comfortable for people of any age.” By incorporating universal design into their homes, senior individuals are better prepared to face the challenges and health ailments that accompany aging.
Aging in place is not a decision to take lightly. It requires a personalized and comprehensive plan that addresses all potential challenges that a senior individual can face. If you or a loved one is considering aging in place, here are 7 universal design-based home modifications you can start with to prepare for safe and comfortable senior living at home:
We’ve all been there: wake up, get our loved ones out the door; get to work, immediately start on our caregiving duties. All of a sudden, 2 p.m. rolls around and we’re feeling a bit funky. Why? Because we never stopped to eat. Sound familiar?
All too often, it is. As caregivers, we need to remember that great care partners also care for themselves. Being a caregiver means wearing many hats—you may be a spouse, a child or a parent; a nurse, an advocate, a coordinator, a communicator, a liaison, or a friend–and sometimes several of those all at once.
Most seniors are concerned about changing their lifestyle and losing their independence. So, it's important to find a senior community that meets their needs, while keeping their independence. Two popular options are assisted living and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Because both housing types provide daily living support, it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you. To make the best choice, you need to know the differences between these two housing types. A guide to assisted living: This housing type provides care and daily living support offered to seniors in a comfortable and residential setting. Support services are customized to the needs of each resident, providing them access to a wide range of assistance when needed. Services include the following:
Discovering the right senior living choice is about getting some knowledge about your needs and deciding the types of services that best fit those needs. Two of the most mainstream choices are independent living and assisted living. Here's a quick manual for each of these choices to assist you with making an informed decision.
Depression is a common mental health condition that affects more than 6.5 million American aged 65 or older. The symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, loss, anger or frustration. It is often untreated because many people think that depression is a normal part of aging and a natural reaction to chronic illness, loss and social transition. Also, this mood disorder is often untreated because an elderly individual may be isolated because he/she doesn't live in an Assisted Living NYC, which in itself can lead to depression. When depression isn't treated, the risk for mental illness and cognitive decline increases. The causes of depression include health problems, loneliness, isolation, reduce sense of purpose, fear of death, and recent bereavement. Because grief and depression share many symptoms, it isn't always easy to distinguish the difference. Grief is a roller coaster; it involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant. It doesn't go away by itself and lasts for months. If untreated, depression can affect the body. For example, it can increase the risk for health disease and can suppress the immune system, which can raise the risk for infection.
Medicare is a health insurance program funded by the federal government. It is basically the same everywhere in the United States and run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This program offers health insurance benefits to people 65 or over, and to anyone under 65 who has been collecting Social Security Disability for at least 2 years or has a serious disability, such as kidney failure. There are several parts to Medicare. Part A covers institutional care, such as hospital costs, rehabilitation, home health care and hospice. Part B covers medical expenses including doctor's bills, outpatient tests, lab services, and home health care. To get Part B coverage, there is a monthly charge to the patient and a deductible is also applied. For people that are eligible for Medicare, they can pay extra for Medigap, a private health insurance policy that covers services that are not covered by Medicare, such as deductibles, co-payments and prescriptions.
Advance directives are a way for you to give consent to the treatments that should or should not be given in the event a medical situation arises which requires a decision, and you're unable to speak for yourself. They can also be used to appoint someone to make decisions for you. Advance directives give you a better chance of having your wishes carried out, even if you can't speak to your doctors about your wishes. Also, advance directives take pressure off family members if decisions must be made about medical care and you are unable to communicate.