Family Caregivers

So the “Aha” moment arrives. Circumstances make you realize two things. 1) I’m not as young as I used to be, and 2.) “Old age ain’t for sissies” as the great Bette Davis once said.

Gradually, or sometimes suddenly, it happens… we can’t keep up with household chores, we can’t see the street signs to drive safely, we give up cooking or we can’t walk without holding on to the furniture. And it begins, a nagging fear that we’re losing our independence. In fact, loss of independence is the biggest fear among seniors. So what is the typical senior response? Pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and keep on going, of course! Call in the kids to help out! Unfortunately, the kids have spouses and children of their own. And they have full-time jobs, not to mention they live out of town. It’s time for a new strategy.

Many seniors are finding the solution to remaining independent at home lies outside the family circle with paid caregivers. Steve Everhart, President of The Senior’s Choice explains, “Most seniors find caregivers in two ways. The old way is to run a classified ad or hire through a temporary service. The senior bear all the “employer” responsibility for this kind of caregiver. These folks are usually less expensive but there’s a lot of risks involved in hiring them,” Everhart says. The downside is:

  • It‘s difficult to find the right person.
  • You are responsible for performing a criminal background check
  • You are responsible for finding a replacement if the caregiver is absent
  • You bear the burden for withholding payroll taxes and providing state-mandated worker’s compensation coverage.
  • You bear the burden for liability problems like theft from or damage to your property.

The new way is to contract with a Companion Care Agency. These private agencies like Aspen Senior Care provide “in-home, non-medical care.” The number of agencies is growing quickly to meet the demands of a fast-growing senior population. They provide a wide range of services including light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, shopping & errands, and in many states including Utah, assistance with personal care. These one-on-one services can continue should the senior move into assisted living or even a nursing facility or hospital.”

Companion Care is usually available anywhere from a few hours up to 24 hours a day. Payment is private pay and may be covered by long-term-care insurance policies.

Some questions Everhart suggests you ask a Companion Care agency:

    1. Do they have references from other clients?
    2. What services do they provide?
    3. What training/experience do the caregivers have?
    4. How do they supervise their caregivers?
    5. Are the caregivers bonded and covered by workers’ compensation insurance?
    6. What is the schedule for service?
    7. What if I have a problem with a caregiver?
    8. Does the agency have an emergency or after-hours phone number?
    9. What are the financial arrangments?
    10. Who owns the company? Is it part of a larger organization?
    11.  Are the caregivers employees held accountable by the agency or ate they independent contractors accountable to no one?
    12. Does the agency carry Professional Liability Insurance?

The Pros:

  • Service is easily customized for each client’s needs.
  • Extensive hours available.
  • The staff is screened and supervised.
  • Agency is responsible for all employer tasks like payroll, taxes, liability insurance, workers’ compensation, bonding.
  • Agency is responsible for providing a replacement should the assigned caregiver fail to arrive or need a day off.

Everhart says, “This service is more expensive than independent caregivers but the right agency will provide the most customizable, reliable, worry-free, in-home service available.”

For more information on in-home care through Aspen Senior Care call 801-224-5910.


by AnNita Klimecka

The Senior’s Choice, Inc.

Eating a balanced diet is a basic need we all have in order to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. This is a universal truth, but nutrition becomes more critical as we age. Some seniors struggle to get all the nutrients they need, and many are at a higher risk of malnutrition, often due to a decreased appetite. Even as seniors need to be especially careful about getting proper nutrition, meeting this goal becomes harder. If you’re a senior or have a loved one who is, the good news is that there are simple ways you can work around these barriers.

Beyond Nutrition to Holistic Health

The first thing to realize is that nutrition is tied to many other aspects of our lives. Physical limitations, being active, your social surroundings — they all impact dietary choices and nutrition. One of the best ways seniors can improve nutrition is to take a holistic approach to their health. This means addressing mobility problems through physical or occupational therapy, finding ways to be active, and staying socially engaged to boost your mental health.

If this goal sounds a little overwhelming, don’t try to do it all on your own! There are lots of great holistic wellness programs for seniors, and if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be eligible for one through your insurance benefits. Even if you don’t have these benefits right now, you can always switch to a plan that includes wellness services the next time you enroll.

Don’t Forget About Your Gut Health

As part of a holistic approach to health, it’s important to be aware of nutrition issues that are less well-known. One of these is gut health, especially your microbiome, which basically means the microbes that are in your digestive tract. You’ve probably heard of “good” bacteria and how they can be found in certain foods. We call these prebiotic and probiotic foods, and they have a major impact on your health, beyond just your digestive system. These foods help keep you healthy physically, but they also impact your mood and can even keep your mind sharp.

Taking care of gut health is important at every age, but Sixty and Me explains how it becomes more important for seniors, as your microbiome loses diversity as you age. An easy way to fight this is to eat lots of probiotic and prebiotic foods. Some of the best are fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. Legumes, beans, and any food high in fiber are great choices too.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Meditations)

Good Food for Less

For many seniors, being on a tight budget is a barrier to nutrition. Convenience foods, which typically don’t pack much of a nutrient punch, are often cheaper than fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t eat good food for less! Woman’s Day has some of the best tips for eating on a budget, including buying frozen fruits and vegetables, buying store brands, and buying fresh produce in season.

Another issue for some seniors who live alone is that they don’t know how to cook for just one person. An ideal solution to this problem is to make batch meals. If you have more than just a few portions, plan on freezing part of what you make. This way, you won’t get tired of eating the same meal repeatedly, and you’ll have more meals to pull out and eat later on. Making batch meals is also economical, so it’s a win-win solution.

The reality of nutritional needs for seniors is that it takes more than just switching up a few things in your diet. It requires making conscious choices to prepare inexpensive, healthier meals, as well as an awareness of your holistic health needs. Even if it takes time, making choices to put yourself first will be worth it for the amazing boost to your health.

Contributed by Jennifer McGregor

Jennifer co-created Public Health Library to make it easier for people to find high quality health information. She is a pre-med student who enjoys writing about health and medical topics to help the readers find reputable health resources.

Colder weather means most of us – especially seniors – will spend less time outdoors and more hours inside with windows and doors closed. That also means contending with stale air, or as experts call it, indoor air pollution.

Our cozy homes can emit potential health hazards from carpets, curtains, and all the synthetic materials found in a modern house. One way to counteract this silent pollution is with air purifiers. That can get expensive, with the commercial purifier for a single room costing $100 or more. A less expensive and more aesthetically-pleasing way is with — plants. It’s also an excellent way to bring the outdoors inside. After all, it’s the beauty of the outdoors that adds Utah’s high quality of life.

Yes, certain houseplants are natural pollution filters. NASA has discovered some houseplants are effective in controlling potentially noxious pollutants. After several tests, the space agency discovered, “Plant roots and their associated microorganisms destroy the pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and the organic chemicals, eventually converting all of these air pollutants into new plant tissue.”

NASA says plants can reduce up to 87 percent of toxins in your home within 24 hours. Aside from filtering pollutants, indoor plants can improve your health, reduce stress, help you breathe easier, and improve your mood. That’s a lot more than a $100 air purifier can do.

Here’s a sampling of plants proven to filter pollutants that can be harmful to your well-being:

1. Areca Palm

This big plant is the favorite of scientists for filtering toluene, a family of harmful substances found in glue, paint thinners, nail polish removers, and other common household products. It also acts as a natural humidifier and tolerates most indoor environments.

2. English Ivy

Pretty in a pot or hanging basket, this venerable favorite can grow with just a few hours of sun per day and can last for years. If you have a place in your bathroom, this plant is great for filtering pollutants specific to that room.

3. Chrysanthemum

This fall favorite will thrive anyplace where it can get good sun. It’s especially helpful in kitchens where it can zap toxins like benzines and ammonia, which are common in household cleaners.

 4. Aloe Vera

The darling ingredient of skin care products also doubles as a sieve for the harmful vapors of detergents and varnishes. Like mums, it prefers sunny locations.

5. Snake Plant (Mother-in-law’s Tongue)

Despite its unsavory names, this plant battles airborne chemicals and produces oxygen at night, making it a good choice for bedrooms. Don’t over-water it because it’s susceptible to root rot.

6. Spider Plant

If you’re all-thumbs-but-green, this might be the perfect choice because it grows with little care. It’s especially good at absorbing carbon monoxide and is one of the few houseplants that’s completely harmless to pets, so you can put it anywhere.

7. Peace Lily

This houseplant is as pleasing as its name implies, but wages war against carbon monoxide. Content as a pot-dweller, it requires minimal upkeep other than watering when its leaves begin to droop.

8. Rubber Plant

This has been an indoor favorite since great-grandma’s day. Because it grows tall, it’s excellent in a floor pot and can thrive in partial sunlight. The Rubber Plant bounces formaldehyde vapors, which are found in many household products.

9. Bamboo Palm

Resembling a giant palm/fern hybrid, this big beauty can filter a host of chemical vapors and does double duty as a natural humidifier.

10. Chinese Evergreen

This is a worker bee of a little plant that absorbs a number of harmful chemical vapors and gets better at it as it ages. It’s also easy to grow and is happy in low sunlight.

Most of these pollution fighters are at least mildly toxic to pets, so it’s important to choose locations with that in mind. Placed about your home, they can be a real comfort as you snuggle in for the winter!

Contributed by Eva Williams

Eva loves the outdoors. She loves it with a campfire and s’mores or après ski in a nice lodge with a glass of wine and has written about it for two decades.

If you are now living on a fixed income, you’ll probably need to start spending less. However, cutting costs doesn’t mean you have to make major lifestyle changes. You can make simple changes to your habits and still live a full and satisfying life throughout your golden years.

Declutter Your House

Over the years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff that you don’t want, need, or use. Older adults should declutter their homes and part with some of their abundance of belongings. Decluttering doesn’t just free up space and make your home safer; it can also bring in some income. Look to sell items on eBay, Craigslist, or local consignment shops, as clothing, decor, furniture, and other items that you don’t want anymore can bring in a little income. The fewer items you have in your home, the less you’ll have to clean, maintain, or store. Decluttering can be a very freeing experience for many people. Once you’ve sold everything you can, then donate the rest to charity or pass items on to friends or family members.

Concentrate on Energy Savings

One way to reduce your monthly bills is to cut back on your energy usage. Combined utilities are typically the second biggest portion of your monthly bills, after your mortgage or rent payment. There are a number of easy ways to reduce utility costs.

  • Go around the house and unplug items that you don’t regularly use. Appliances and electronics that are off but still plugged in will continue to use energy.
  • Switch out your traditional light bulbs to more energy-efficient CFLs or LEDs.
  • Install a ceiling fan to help cool your home and circulate the air.
  • Replace filters regularly so your HVAC unit doesn’t have to work so hard. Vacuum the coils under your refrigerator as well.
  • Use a smart thermostat to adjust the temperature when you aren’t at home. Also, lower the temperature at night when you can use blankets to stay warm.
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels - 1
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Seek Out Discounts 

Restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, movie theaters, hotels, cell phone companies, and various other entities offer discounts for seniors. The Senior List has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of senior discounts, but you also need to check in your local area. You may be surprised which retailers will offer discounts and freebies to older adults. Also, consider signing up for loyalty programs or rewards credit cards to reap even more benefits.

Check Your Insurance

Do you have the best deal on your health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance? Take the payments off auto-renew and start researching better options. For example, a Medicare Advantage plan may be more cost-efficient to you in the long-run than traditional Medicare. When it comes to car insurance, you can save money in a variety of ways. On an older vehicle, you may not need full coverage, but it’s still a great financial safety net to have. Discounts are usually available if you are a safe driver, bundle your policies, have an anti-theft device, and drive under a certain number of miles a year, so find a company the provides competitive savings. Compare prices and get quotes from different companies before it’s time to renew. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars a year.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage can reduce your interest or extend your term, resulting in lower monthly payments. If you need more cash immediately, you can do a cash-out refinance. With this vehicle, you get a new mortgage that is higher than your current one, but you also get the difference in cash. Refinancing doesn’t make sense for everyone because there may be closing costs or other fees involved. So, talk to your financial institution and various lenders to comparison shop and figure out if refinancing is right for you.

When you head into retirement and you are suddenly on a fixed income, it can be an adjustment. However, just because you need to change your budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your lifestyle. Small changes can bring in a little income or reduce your monthly costs so you can continue to do all the things you enjoy as you get older.

Contributed by Karen Weeks. Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well. She currently resides in Sacramento, California where she enjoys her retirement by trying new things and learning new skills to keep busy and challenge herself.

You may think that only people who can stand on their heads or touch their toes can practice yoga. Well, it’s time to think again! Yoga boasts a slew of benefits for seniors, from managing arthritis pain to balancing mood and emotions. And you don’t have to have been practicing for decades to reap these rewards. Studies show the benefits of yoga can be felt within just a few short weeks of regular practice.

Even though you understand the benefits, there may still be something holding you back. For many seniors, it’s a combination of time, support and money. Yoga classes cost money and take time, often requiring us to catch rides to and from a gym or studio. While these are totally reasonable obstacles, they can be easily overcome. Here are 10 ways to help seniors build a strong, sustainable yoga practice.

Senior Travel-Pixabay(qimono)

Photo by Pixabay (qimono)

#10 Check out Silver Sneakers: Your Medicare plan may cover some or all of the costs of joining a gym that provides yoga classes. Ask your health plan advisor for information on Silver Sneakers, which are fitness classes offered at gyms all across the nation and catered specifically to seniors. All classes are led by a certified instructor to ensure your safety, with the added benefit that they can easily cater the class to your needs and abilities.

#9 Look for Senior Discounts: Gyms and studios often run discounts and specials just for seniors to help them get access to the classes they need for preventative care and health. You can even check out coupon and discount websites like Groupon to find affordable deals, or give them a call to ask about specials. You may also come across some that run ads in your local newspaper. If you have a local studio in mind, stop by and express your interest in learning yoga. They may offer you a free class to help gauge your interest or offer you a coupon or discounted price.

#8 Make a Home Studio: Clear out a room in your home for a daily yoga practice. If you have furniture or boxes gathering dust in an unused bedroom, put them in storage. Another idea is to use your dining room for your yoga space. According to Angie’s List, many people have found alternative uses for their dining room as only 23 percent of homeowners routinely eat meals in this room. Once you’ve cleared a space, store your yoga mat nearby so that it’s always ready. Bring in some relaxing additions such as a scented candle, greenery, or artwork.

#7 Watch Yoga Videos: There are hundreds of free online yoga videos from certified professionals. You can follow along as they practice or watch videos that break down poses so you can work on safe alignment. You can also purchase yoga DVDs in the electronics or fitness section at most stores such as Walmart or Target, making practicing yoga as easy as popping in a DVD.

#6 Focus on Your Breath: If you can breathe then, guess what? You are practicing yoga! Try to pair your movements to an inhale and exhale. You can do this when walking, washing the dishes or sweeping the floor. Mindfulness is central to yoga’s mental health benefits. Sit in a comfy chair or in a seated position on the floor and clear your mind of any intruding thoughts so that you can pay attention to nothing but your breathing. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly for 10 minutes to start or end your day.

#5 Download a Free Meditation App: There are dozens of well-reviewed free meditation apps that you can download to your phone or tablet. You can use these to learn more about meditation, start a basic practice and to encourage and track your progress.

#4 There are Yoga Apps, Too! You can download yoga apps for your phone or tablet that you can use for free. Try to make it social by inviting your friends to use the app or practicing with your caregiver or a family member. Once you get the hang of it and learn what moves work best for you, you can create your own routine to follow.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

#3 Focus on One Pose: Instead of jumping into a whole series or flow, just focus on one or a handful of poses at a time. You can do them while watching television or after you first wake up. Keep it simple and move deeper into the pose as time allows. Yoga takes time and practice, so don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first. Start with simple moves and use props such as a chair for extra assistance. Should you decide you’d like to try more advanced moves, attend a class first to make sure you are doing it correctly and aren’t at risk of injuring yourself.

#2 Try a Work Share Arrangement: Many yoga studios and gyms will provide free classes in exchange for help watching the register and cleaning the studio. Talk to studios near you to find one that is interested in this kind of partnership.

#1 Take Classes with Friends: Whether you are paying for a class or going to the gym, practicing with friends can reduce the risk of senior isolation and make yoga more fun—and make it more likely you will stick with it. Plus, you can carpool with your friends, which is especially helpful if driving is a concern for you.

Yoga helps seniors stay healthy in both mind and body, and is also a fun, yet relaxing way to spend time alone or with friends. Try out any one of the tips above to make these your golden years for health and fitness.

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Has your loved one recently transitioned into the care of a hospice agency? While a hospice agency may alleviate some of your caregiving duties, you may notice that additional support in the home would be beneficial. This is where enlisting the help of a personal care agency may be the perfect solution.

Personal care agencies like Aspen Senior Care often get confused with hospice care, but they aren’t the same. It’s important for families caring for elderly loved ones to know the difference and how both agencies complement each other.

What is the difference?

Personal care services provide one-on-one non-medical support in a person’s home which allows them to stay safely at home while under the care of a professional caregiver. Professional caregivers provide assistance 24/7 with activities of daily living, personal care, companionship, night care, and respite care for family caregivers. It is customized care to fit the needs and desires of the person and their family. This type of care is usually paid privately and/or by long-term-care insurance.

The purpose of hospice is to provide the highest quality of medical care and comfort to those who are chronically ill, terminally ill, or seriously ill and to relieve or lessen the discomfort they may experience. This may include medical care to alleviate pain, counseling and grief support for the patient and their family. In most cases, hospice care for seniors is covered by Medicare and includes several 1-hour visits per week by CNA’s, nurses, and other professionals.

How do they work hand-in-hand?

Personal care companies like Aspen Senior Care provide a few of the same services that hospice agencies provide, plus a lot of services they do not provide. When hospice care sends a CNA 2 to 3 times a week for an hour to help with bathing, personal care agencies like Aspen Senior Care can fill in the gaps and provide consistent care and peace of mind 24/7. Hospice care provides a nurse to visit each week to answer medical questions and help stay on top of pain. Personal care agencies provide trained caregivers who can be there day and night to provide encouragement, reduce loneliness, and give extra assistance as needed. Both agencies usually work together to ensure their patients’ needs are met.

Personal care agencies 24/7 services include:

  • Shower assistance
  • Hygiene care
  • Medication reminders
  • Homemaking
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Light housekeeping
  • Errands and transportation
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia care
  • Peace of mind for all involved

The most important thing to remember is that both of these agencies are on your side. They want to provide the best care for your loved one, and working hand-in-hand with one another provides the best support across the board. If your loved one is in need of hospice care services and you feel they would benefit from additional care and assistance, don’t hesitate to call on a good personal in-home care agency in your area.  

Learn more about Aspen Senior Care by calling 801-224-5910.

Nearly 1 in 3 adults currently suffer from joint pain or immobility. Of those afflicted, 3 in 4 are diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as arthritis. The alternative source of joint pain is principally tendonitis. Since these conditions are difficult to treat post-offset, the proactive adult would be clever to take preventative measures before symptoms present.

Both arthritis and tendonitis differ in cause but are similar in prevention and treatment. Therefore, the same protocol can be strictly followed for both conditions. Smartly consult your primary care physician and establish a clean bill of health before starting any new physical or dietary regimen.

Pursuing joint health begins with risk factor identification, such as:

  • Obesity
  • A family history of joint pain
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Type II diabetes
  • A diet high in refined sugars or gluten
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(DarkoStojanovic)

It would be surprising if anyone reading this didn’t have at least one or two of those risk factors. However, by simply replacing refined sugars with natural sugars, and carb-rich foods with vegetables it becomes possible to reduce several risk factors straight away. Second to this would be habitual exercise, especially in water, which is without impact on the joints.

You may be thinking now, ‘well that all sounds good, but I just don’t have the time to do all that.’ So, take a moment to consider this: if you cannot make time for being healthy, you will have to make time for being sick. It is easy to forget about your health when you’re not currently with disease or illness, but when a chronic condition presents itself, it may be too late to go back.

The easiest lifestyle changes to make are dietary. To be specific, there are foods that promote joint health, and others that are to the detriment of our joints. Before listing these foods, remember to only eat in moderation—even healthy foods can be overconsumed.

Foods to eat:

Foods to avoid:

  • Fast foods
  • Processed sugars
  • Bread
  • Alcoholic drinks

A good rule of thumb is to have every meal be two-parts vegetables, one-part fruit, and one-part meat, fish, or nuts. Ideally, nobody would ever eat unhealthy foods or drinks, but it shouldn’t cause any noticeable harm to have these things on occasion, say once per week.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(SofieZborilova)

Daily exercise is also vital to the preservation of the kinetic apparatus, especially the joints. The most optimal exercises being ones with little to no impact, such as walking, biking, and exercises in water. Exercising half an hour per day is a fantastic preventative measure for joint degradation.

The actual stretches, which should be performed twice daily, and should be held for 30 seconds each, unless otherwise specified, are as follows:

  • Place your right hand on your left shoulder from the front, as if you were patting yourself on the back, and then use your left hand to push your elbow up and towards your back, then switch arms.
  • Place both hands behind your back as if being handcuffed, then slide your hands up towards your mid-back to form chicken wings. Hold this position for up to a minute.
  • Push your palms against a wall, with arms straight, and legs in a lunging position. Then, flip your hands so the backs of your hands are against the wall, and hold the position again. This is excellent for the wrists and elbows.
  • Put your fingers through a thick rubber band and open your fingers, spreading the band apart. Perform on both hands.
  • Get into a lunge position and hold, then switch legs.
  • Lay on your back with your feet together. Now, slide your feet up towards your butt before spreading your legs and trying to put your knees on the floor. Do not at any point allow your feet to lose contact with each other. Your legs should be forming a triangular shape.

Repeat these stretches three times each session, with a minute rest or so between each stretch. At no point should you feel exhausted doing these stretches—and if that happens, allow yourself as much time as you need to calm your breathing and nerves. Following this protocol, joint problems should never develop or should be much less severe if already present.

Guest Contributor: Victoria Ward has always been very passionate about psychology and health. She is a recent graduate with a major in psychology and a minor in neurobiology, focusing on Alzheimer’s, learning, and memory.

Have your good health habits slowly turned into bad ones as you’ve aged? Eager to jump over that rut and start anew?

Thankfully, humans have the free-will to make of life what we can, when we can. Breathe easy, senior netizens. There are changes you can start making today to improve your overall health for the coming years.

Eat healthy

Digestion slows with age, so adding fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables can be particularly effective for seniors. However, it is important to keep in mind that anyone who eats more fiber should also drink more water, as it helps flush waste and keeps joints lubricated. Need a guide? This graphic from the AARP shows what your plate should look.

FYI: Senior centers often provide a healthy lunch, either free or at a greatly reduced price, via state or municipal programs. Check if yours does – it’s a guaranteed healthy meal during the week!

Get more sleep

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(Pexels)

If you wake up tired or have insomnia or sleep apnea, it is imperative to change your sleep habits. You need 7-8 hours each night, so turn off smartphones, tablets, and TVs two hours before bedtime, as the blue light mimics daylight and tricks your body into thinking it should be awake. It is also important to keep your room temperature cool (68 degrees) and to make sure your bed is comfortable enough for a good night’s rest.

QUICK FIX: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for at least 7 years, consider looking into a new one that’s more accommodating (i.e. less harsh on joints) for seniors.

Focus on disease/illness prevention

Don’t wait until you’re sick to address your health – which is great advice for seniors and caregivers alike. It’s easier to prevent illness than to heal it. Caregivers should do this by helping elders stay on top of appointments, medications, screenings, and vaccinations.

REMINDER: Seniors are more likely to develop pneumonia or shingles. Ask for those shots the next time you are seeing your doctor.

Exercise

No one is saying to sign Grandpa up for a 5K after a hip replacement. What we are saying, however, is that there are exercises that can be extremely beneficial, at any age. Walking is a great example, and there are exercise routines (on a chair, in a pool) that will keep limbs moving and hearts pumping regardless of mobility level. The National Council on Aging recommends 30 minutes per day, five times per week, devoting two days to muscle strengthening.   

BONUS: Exercise relieves depression. Seniors can feel lonely and isolated, so it is important that we all are aware that exercise is a wonderful, free, effective antidote.

Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)
Photo courtesy Pixabay (silviarita)

Make new friends and stay busy

Many seniors experience losing friends due to age or illness, or because it’s harder to get around. They’re retired or unable to work. Without stimulation, their bodies and brains can atrophy. They need friends and activities: Sudoku, crossword puzzles, playing chess with children or grandchildren. Regular interaction at a senior home or center. Help them make connections in both their brain and the world.

Aging is not always going to be easy, but it is important to keep in mind that there are some helpful tips and tricks to staying healthy as we do get older.

Guest Contributor:

Elise Morgan has always loved writing and enjoys covering numerous topics. She got into writing about seniors, aging, and caregiving because she was a volunteer caregiver in Asheville, NC. She enjoyed it so much she started writing helpful tips and for seniors and caregivers alike.

You worked hard to put money away for retirement, so it is important that you understand the various strategies available to you to make sure you maximize that savings by minimizing taxes and avoiding penalties. Here are several tips to maximize your retirement savings:

Avoid early withdrawal penalties. Over and above the income tax due on your withdrawals, you must wait until age 59 ½ before tapping your retirement savings to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, you can take penalty-free 401(k) withdrawals beginning at age 55 if you leave the job associated with that 401(k) account at age 55 or later.

Roll over your 401(k) when changing jobs. If you withdraw money from your 401(k) when you change jobs, 20 percent will be withheld for income tax, as well as paying a penalty for early withdrawals. The mechanism to avoid these costs is to roll over your 401(k) into either a new 401(k) or an IRA.

Mixing your types of retirement accounts. If you qualify for a Roth IRA, these accounts have a variety of benefits a traditional IRA does not, including more flexibility on penalty-free withdrawals and no required minimum distributions. However the biggest difference between the two types of accounts is how they are taxed. IRAs are tax-deferred, so they provide you with an immediate tax benefit, but you must pay taxes when you withdraw the money during retirement. Roth IRA accounts require paying taxes when you deposit the savings, but that means you don’t pay taxes on them during retirement. Diversifying your money in a traditional IRA as well as a Roth IRA will allow you to moderate your tax burden during retirement. Also, if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement, maximizing your retirement funds in a Roth account will allow you to lock in today’s low tax rate.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay-1(stevepb)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (stevepb)

Understanding minimum distribution. You are required to withdraw money from your traditional 401(k) and IRA after age 70 1/2. If you miss a required withdrawal, you must pay a 50 percent penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn. Make sure you mark your calendar for that cutoff date and make arrangements with your financial institution to remind you automatically about your required distribution.

Understanding the rules on your first distribution. Your first required minimum distribution is due by April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½. All subsequent distributions must be taken by Dec. 31 each year. If you delay your first distribution until the same tax year as your second distribution, you will be required to take both distributions in the same tax year, which could result in an unusually high tax bill.

Start withdrawals in your 60s. While you must begin traditional retirement account withdrawals at age 70 ½, you can lower your tax burden by take smaller distributions starting at age 59 ½, which can spread the tax bill over more years, potentially allowing you to stay in a lower tax bracket and reducing your lifetime tax bill. Check with your financial advisor to find out if this option would make sense for you.

Calculate your tax burden with added Social Security or Pension Benefits. If you’re going to be receiving Social Security benefits or regular payouts from a pension, it’s important to incorporate them when planning your withdrawal strategy. Even if you’re receiving a relatively small amount each month from these sources, the extra income may increase your tax burden.

Keep tax-preferred investments outside retirement accounts. Investments that generate long-term capital gains receive preferential tax treatment when held outside of a retirement account. However, if you put them in a retirement account, you will pay your typically higher regular income tax rate when you withdraw the money from the account. In contrast, you can lower your tax bill by holding more highly taxed investments, including Treasury inflation-protected securities, corporate and government bonds and funds that generate short-term capital gains, inside retirement accounts.

Contributed by:

Caren Parnes for the Senior’s Choice

What is long-term-care insurance?

Long-term care insurance covers a range of supportive services (medical and non-medical) that an individual may need when they are no longer able to perform many day-to-day activities or tasks on their own. Activities of daily living, commonly known as ADL’s, include tasks such as feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing, or transferring from a bed to chair.

Additionally, long-term-care covers services that may help individuals with other everyday essential tasks. These supportive tasks include medication reminders, house cleaning, errands, and meal preparation.

LTC covers care services whether it be in the individual’s own home or in a facility. Who provides care may depend on the individual’s needs, but many times can come from a family caregiver, a homecare company, an adult day service, or a facility.

How do you know if long-term-care insurance is right for you?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(skeeze)

LTC may be right for you if:

  • You want to be able to pay for your own care when it is needed down the road.
  • You like the idea of being independent as long as possible.
  • You are able to afford the premiums and have a good income and amount of assets.

LTC may NOT be right for you if:

  • You have a limited amount of income or assets.
  • You struggle paying for day-to-day necessities such as housing, rent, food, medications, etc.
  • Your only income is through a Social Security benefit or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and you can’t afford the premiums.

Companies like Aspen Senior Care, an in-home personal care agency, want to help make sure seniors get the most bang for their buck. Cindy Harris, a LTC Claim Specialist with Aspen, says that many people don’t utilize their long-term-care options as well as they could.

“My job is to work with LTC insurance companies and get them to pay claims on our clients’ behalf,” says Cindy. “That way they get the full care they need and don’t have to worry that they won’t get the coverage they’ve paid for!”