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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.

The heat of summer is here, so this is a good time to review some vital safety tips for seniors.  Elderly persons are more prone to the effects of heat and at greater risk for dehydration. Make sure you or someone you can trust is checking in on your elderly family members. 

• Try to plan activities that
require going outside during non-peak hours when it might be a little cooler.

• Move exercise indoors. 
Consider exercising at a gym, walking on a treadmill, or “mall walking” instead
of outdoor walks or activities. Swimming and water aerobics are good options as
well.

• Drink plenty of fluids
(non-alcoholic, caffeine-free as these ingredients have a diuretic effect).
Talk with your doctor if you take medications that affect fluid intake, such as
Lasix.

• Stay indoors, in cooled spaces
as much as possible. Check your loved one’s air-conditioning system, and do a
maintenance review. If electricity goes out, or your loved one does not have
air conditioning, consider alternative arrangements when heat is at dangerous
levels.

• Be aware of signs of
dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple

The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability, and poor skin elasticity. Keeping hydrated on a regular basis is the most important preventative measure, and individuals should be encouraged to drink fluids even when not thirsty as thirst may not be triggered until already dehydrated. Heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause or increase confusion. Heat exhaustion is the more mild form of heat-related illness. Warning signs may include the following: Heavy sweating; Paleness; Muscle Cramps; Fatigue; Weakness; Dizziness; Headache; Nausea or vomiting; Fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate may be fast and weak. Breathing may be fast and shallow.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs may include the following: An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); Rapid, strong pulse; Throbbing headache; Dizziness; Nausea. Any indication of heat stroke is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.

Be aware of other summer dangers. Talk with
your loved one about alternatives if he/she handles maintenance around the
home, such as yard work or cleaning gutters. This may be especially
dangerous in the heat, but may also pose general risks for falling and safety.
Be vigilant about sunscreen and protect against insect bites. If you or someone
you know has a bite that seems abnormal or you notice any unusual symptoms,
seek medical attention.

Contributed By Caren Parnes, for The Senior’s Choice

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!”

Four Ways to Enhance Your Elderly Loved Ones Quality of Life

Statistics indicate people are busier than ever in today’s modern world. Finding time to ensure aging loved ones get the care they need is challenging.

A professional caregiver can address your loved ones basic needs and help them avoid things like slip and fall injuries or in-home accidents. Family and friends, on the other hand, can provide the social support and compassion necessary for them to remain both mentally and emotionally healthy in their later years.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between getting work done and caring for a family member. You simply need to keep the following points in mind. They’ll help you strike the delicate balance between tending to a loved one and using your time productively.

Stay in Touch Regularly

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Silviarita)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Silviarita)

Seniors who have frequent opportunities to socialize typically enjoy a better quality of life than those whose personal contacts are limited. Thus, you should make a point of regularly staying in contact with an aging loved one.

That doesn’t mean you have to visit them three times a week. A phone call every few days can be sufficient. The point is to make this part of your regular schedule to ensure they can depend on regular interaction with you.

Find Social Events for Them

Visiting your aging family members when you can is still important. However, you’re not the only person who can offer them in-person support. It’s also necessary for them to have friends in the community with whom they can spend their time.

That said, they may be reluctant to pursue these friendships on their own. You can help by looking into community events they may be interested in participating in. Encourage them to attend, and maybe even bring them to a few yourself at first to help them strike up bonds with others.

Bring Them to Your Events

Odds are good there are some out-of-the home activities you participate in fairly regularly. They can be simple errands, such as buying groceries for the week, or fun experiences, such as going to the movies or shopping for clothes. Either way, consider bringing an older loved one along.

Seniors’ brains need stimulation in order to guard against cognitive decline. Sitting at home all day doesn’t provide the proper degree of stimulation. They need to be out in the world to stay sharp.

Introduce them to Technology

(StartupStockPhotos)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay(StartupStockPhotos)

A recent study indicates seniors who use social media are generally less lonely than those who do not. Unfortunately, some are unable to take advantage of social networks because they are not comfortable using the necessary technology. You can teach them to use it, providing them with another way of keeping in touch with others.

Of course, it may still be necessary to hire a caregiver. Having someone on hand to keep a watchful eye on an aging loved one will give you peace of mind. In the meantime, these tips will help you care for them too, even if your lifestyle is busy.

Guest Contributor: Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.