Patt Osborne wasn’t happy with a quiet retirement life. The former teacher wasn’t ready to sit at home and knit, she wanted adventure. Patt imagined that there were others out there who wanted a little more excitement, no matter their age.

Patt founded Boomer Chick Adventures in New Jersey, a company that designs outdoor excursions tailored to inspire women in the baby boomer generation to get out and move. Though women and men of all ages are welcome, Patt felt it was important that women be encouraged to get outdoors as they age.  

“Being outdoors, whether in the woods, on a mountain peak, seaside, lakeside, or just reading on my deck, this is where I draw my strength and become energized,” Patt explains. The most popular events are hiking, kayaking and tubing, though the group has expanded to cultural events like tea ceremonies.

What can we learn from Patt and the Boomer Chick adventurers? That retirement is not the time to slow down, but the time to embrace new challenges and interests. It’s a time to learn new skills, enjoy physical activity and experience the world through travel and culture.

If you’re not sure how to start something new, look for a group like Patt’s that caters to older clientele. There are plenty of organizations that can help with travel, technology and learning, all tailored to senior clients. There are also a number of colleges that offer free classes that range from academic to artistic. If you’d like to spend your retirement learning, look here for the classes available in your state.

Don’t allow your retirement to be the end of your adventuring. Take a hike, learn a new language, or embrace another culture. Retirement is a time to expand your horizons, not shrink them.

 

Most aging Americans have a dream about aging in place. To do this, homes may need to be refitted with safety in mind. Grab bars might need to be installed in bathrooms, a chair lift might need to be added to the stairs, and perhaps a ramp and wheelchair accessible halls and doorways. It can be costly to refurbish a house for older residents, so seniors should consult a builder or look at suggested housing updates here.   

Beyond better lighting and safety features, what other things can you do to help ensure you can age in place?

There are several different forms of technology that are designed to aid seniors in their homes. Beyond fall detection devices, there are now medication dispensing machines, sensors that can help track senior movements, and tablets or video chatting devices that will make staying connected to family members easy. If seniors don’t feel comfortable using technology, and don’t have a younger friend or relative that can show them the ropes, there are often classes at local senior centers that will show you how to operate essential devices.

Communities also have a role to play in successful aging in place. The Morningside Gardens community on the Upper West Side of New York City has made a concerted effort to refit their community with their older members in mind. Their new community center has been redesigned with senior mobility in mind. The center also offers senior-tailored health services and social programs to foster a sense of greater community and combat feelings of isolation that often plague seniors.

Finally, in the near future, if you want to age at home, you may need a companion – one that comes with a charger. Toyota recently invested $14 million into the development of an aging in place robot. The ElliQ is a revolutionary robot that works with a tablet to help seniors control technology in their households as well as connect with the outside world.

Aging in place is becoming an attainable goal as technology improves. Work with senior loved ones to prepare and the transition should be smooth.

Aging is often considered a hard process. Our bodies can get weaker, our minds can struggle to retain information, and our daily life can become a bit more complex. But much like most complex things, there are shortcuts that one can take to simplify the aging process.

One of the easiest ways to simplify aging? Technology. Though traditionally seniors and technology have had an acrimonious relationship, this new generation of seniors is far more computer literate than in the past. By embracing gadgets and new machines, seniors can stay healthy and stay connected.

These hacks might not turn back the clock, but they can help seniors and the ones that love them simplify the aging process. Here is a list of the best tech products to add to your home.

BeClose. The perfect way for working families to check on elderly loved ones throughout the day. BeClose is a wireless sensor system that can be placed around a senior’s house. Users can log in and see what sensors have been activated during the day. It’s a great system for checking to see if your loved one has opened the medicine cabinet in time for their meds, or even opened the front door to leave their home.

TabSafe. If managing medication is becoming difficult for a loved one, TabSafe could be the cure. A machine that manages the distribution of medications, TabSafe can be programed to give precise doses at precise times. It’s a great way for seniors who have vision or dexterity problems to get accurate and timely doses of their daily medications.

Telikin. A simple touch-screen device that allows you to call, video chat, or email at the tap of a screen. You can connect to your family and friends using this easy to manage tablet. The best part? All the software is installed when it arrives at your home, just plug it in and get connected to your family and friends.

Whether you’re getting to your golden years or simply looking out for a senior, technology is a great asset for aging.

As you age, memory fades. It’s not necessarily a sign of something sinister; forgetfulness has long been accepted as a natural part of aging. But scientists are beginning to understand how we form and keep memories.

At UCLA, scientists have discovered that synapses, the electrical trails between neurons, can become worn as we age. Memories and associations can become weaker over time as the synapses connecting the thoughts deteriorate. Scientists have previously focused their efforts on researching how brains make memories, not on how memories are stored in the brain. This new research suggests that connections between neurons can be reestablished by encouraging electrical activity in synapses.

One of the more promising ways this research is paying off for Alzheimer’s patients can be found in a UCLA study. For the first time in medical history, the study was able to show real improvement in the memories of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers used custom treatments for each patient—including dietary alterations, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep training, pharmaceuticals, and a few other techniques designed to alter brain chemistry. The results are impressive: The subjects of the study show a partial reversal of memory loss and improvements in other systems.

As scientists learn more about how we make and store memories, our ability to combat diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s will grow. Until scientists develop an effective treatment, it is still possible to take steps to minimize your risk of memory loss.

In order to keep your mind healthy, take inspiration from the UCLA study and work to maintain an active brain. A healthy diet that minimizes sugars and nontraditional fats has been shown to keep brains healthy. Drinking two cups of coffee a day can also help your body maintain its brain power. Exercise, even as little as a 30-minute daily walk, can help seniors maintain healthy brain function. Finally, keep your mind active by challenging yourself every day. Learn a new language, complete a crossword puzzle, or engage in a lively debate. Making yourself learn new information and recall it rapidly is an excellent way to keep your mind sharp.

While scientists figure out exactly how to reverse the process of memory loss in the aging population, it’s possible for seniors to take steps now to maintain a healthy, active mind.

 

Elderly CareThe World Health Organization (WHO) has long been a driving force in the global community. This essential organization advises on outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola, alerts the world to upcoming endemics, and offers guidance to nations about how to improve their public health programs. This year, the WHO has chosen to focus on a public health issue that will affect every nation on earth: the growth of the aging population.

The WHO has created a program, 21st Century Longevity, that outlines a series of goals for the coming years. The organization is calling for a commitment to creating healthy aging programs in every country. Among the goals of these programs are to develop age-friendly environments for seniors; to align health systems to accommodate the needs of older citizens; to ensure sustainable long-term care systems; and to improve the monitoring of the aging population while researching further ways to promote and maintain healthy aging. These goals would require large resource commitments from nations around the globe, but they would ultimately lead to a healthier, happier global community.

To develop elder-friendly environments, countries like the U.S., for instance, would have to work on their public transportation and accessibility infrastructures; seniors in the U.S. can often become isolated when they can no longer drive. The WHO’s goal is to create nations where seniors can easily experience and enjoy their communities, interacting with those around them even if they don’t have a driver’s license.

Developing a senior-oriented health care system is another excellent goal, as senior health care will become even more of a national issue in the coming years. Focusing on developing technologies that will aid seniors with wellness checks, medication management, and mobility issues are excellent ways to get seniors their necessary and appropriate care.

Whether you’re a senior or are providing care for a senior, it is clear that the offer of these crucial solutions for seniors’ health care cannot be ignored. The senior population will increase dramatically in the next 20 years, and we as a global community need to be prepared.

Americans are getting older. It’s a great thing. The CDC estimates that the number of Americans who will live to be over 100 years old has grown 44 percent from 2000 to 2014. With the baby boomers aging into their senior years, this means that there will be an unprecedented boom in the senior population of the country.

While it’s wonderful that our population is living longer, there are some unexpected issues that come with aging. One of the biggest concerns facing seniors is how to plan for caregiving if they are Elder Orphans. Defined as a senior who either has no family that can help with their caregiving, or no one able to aid them, Elder Orphans are a growing segment of the senior population. This year, the number of Elder Orphans in the senior community has grown to nearly a quarter.

If you find yourself to be an Elder Orphan, there’s no need to panic, just plan.

The biggest concern for those who do not have family or friends to care for them is finances. Elder Orphans should work with a financial advisor to cultivate savings that will help them in case of medical emergencies. It is also essential that any living space is senior-friendly. If you’re planning on aging-in-place, that may mean renovations to your home including chair lifts and better lighting. It could also mean investigating local senior living communities to determine if that is a more budget friendly option.

Another issue facing Elder Orphans is isolation. Those without family to check on them can sometimes feel that they’ve grown isolated. This can lead to feelings of depression and also declining mental faculties. It is imperative that seniors keep and maintain social connections. This is especially important for Elder Orphans who don’t have family to rely upon for interaction. Be sure to cultivate a strong friend group and meet with each other at least once a week for a fun activity.

Though being an Elder Orphan requires a bit of extra planning, there’s no reason it can’t lead to a fulfilling life. If you’re aging and alone, plan ahead for a successful life as a single senior.

For years, medical communities focused on treating ailments instead of patients. While diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions are essential, doctors are beginning to believe that having an understanding of their patients’ experiences is another essential piece of the healthcare puzzle.

At UC San Diego, medical students are getting a taste of what it’s like to be a senior in their classes. Students were fitted with thick gloves and glasses that obscured their vision. They were then told to sort M&Ms into jars by color. The students were meant to learn just how difficult even menial tasks can be when our bodies age.

The point of the exercise? To make sure the next generation of doctors, which will have a booming senior population to see, consider how medical conditions can change an older person’s daily life, and what treatments will allow them to live a better life. Students are learning to see the person, as well as the condition they’re treating.

“We have to make sure that our students are prepared to take care of the kind of patients that are more and more common, patients with long medical histories and long medication lists,” explained Dr. Zaldy Tan.
How does this medical school practice effect you? It shows a shift in the medical community. Doctors are learning to consider the patient as a whole and not just look at the conditions that need to be treated. As America ages, the medical community will have to adjust to its new senior population.

Seniors should look for doctors who specialize in geriatric medicine and be sure to carefully vet their doctors. If you feel a doctor isn’t responding to your concerns and needs, it’s time to look for a doctor who does.

One of the most dangerous medical issues facing seniors is a preventable one. Each year, seniors are hospitalized, immobilized, and injured in falls. Falls have become the number one cause of injuries and death in Americans over the age of 65. One in three seniors will suffer a fall.

While there is no foolproof way to avoid taking a spill, there are many preventative techniques that can help you lower your risk of falling and injuring yourself.

Check your meds. Medications can sometimes alter your balance or perception abilities. If you are on multiple medications, or have just gotten a prescription for a new medication, it would behoove you to speak to your doctor about the side effects. Make sure you’re aware of the effects medication can have on you, and work with your doctor to find a mix that’s right for you.

Get help at home. If you’ve decided to age in place, make sure your home is equipped to aid a senior who might need fall assistance. Consider grab bars in your bathrooms and non-slip flooring on stairs and in bathtubs. Look around your home and see if there are any areas that need better lighting. A home with lots of light and places to clutch should you feel unsteady is a safer environment for seniors. You may also find it necessary to add chair lifts to your home should stairs become too difficult to navigate.

Dress the part. Make sure you’re dressed in accordance to your environment. Wear comfortable shoes that don’t impede your gait (consider flats over high heels if you have balance issues). If you must go out in icy conditions, wear sturdy boots and multiple layers to help pad you if you fall.

Get moving. Exercise isn’t just for the young. Seniors can not only dramatically improve their health by committing to fitness, they can dramatically improve their balance. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you keep steady footing when you’re in your home. So go for a walk, take a water aerobics class, or find a fitness program that suits you.  

Whether you’re hoping to prevent a fall, or trying to ensure one doesn’t reoccur, simple fall prevention is something all seniors should know.

Off-time events can derail a young life*

For many of us, there’s a general expectation that at some point in the future, we will be a caregiver for an elderly parent or even spouse. What we don’t anticipate or expect is for that caregiving to start when we are in our 20s, 30s, or even 40s. Those are the years we expect to take care of ourselves (education, career, family), but many are finding they must put their own lives on hold to become a caregiver, and it can create feelings of anger or sadness in the process. There is help out there and we have put some of these ideas together in the hopes that it can help.

The first suggestion given to many of these young caregivers is to join support groups. We know that support groups work, and that many people feel tremendous relief when sharing problems, thoughts and concerns with like-minded folks. However, with young caregivers, the immediate problem is finding peers in the support groups. Often, there is no one under age 55 in an elder care support group for caregivers, but there are others going through the same thing. Reach out to senior centers in your area, contact an Association that deals with your loved ones main issue such as Alzheimer’s Association or Parkinson’s Association, speak with religious leaders or contact a local “Senior Village” to ask about support groups with younger attendees. These resources will know the families that attend and be able to point you to the group that suits you best.

The second suggestion for young caregivers is to hire outside help so the burdens of care can be shared and the young life a little less ‘derailed’. This is the point that those us of over the age of 40 must pay attention. Although long-term planning can be a hard issue to face, basic planning such as: arranging Power of Attorney for your financial and healthcare needs, preparing a living will spelling out your wishes clearly if you are incapacitated, and maybe even purchasing long term care insurance should be one prong in our retirement planning. Taking these relatively simple steps is a prudent decision that may allow a younger loved one to continue his/her life path without the tremendous burden of caregiving for a parent and/or grandparent.

Finally, reaching out for respite care services may be a great choice for young caregivers. There are many church and community groups that can assist with brief respite care situations. Home care companies also offer respite care services so that the young caregiver can attend a university class, book club, or spend a few hours working out. Being a young caregiver may not be ideal, but with some thought and planning by all parties, there are ways to get through it without completely ‘derailing a young life’ while still feeling good about doing all that you can to help a loved one.

Do you have caregiver plans in place? Do you know how you would handle an unexpected illness requiring home care? Please send us an email or share your experiences on our Facebook page.

*Pressed Into Caregiving Sooner Than Expected. The New York Times