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.

Some people just seem to have an extra spring in their step, even as they age. They’re healthier, mentally quicker, and happier than many of their peers. Why is this? Doctors are starting to find out.

In a new study from Northwest Medicine, doctors took a look at SuperAgers – persons 80 or above who show fewer mental and physical impairments due to aging. What they found was this: The brains of SuperAgers look very different than that of normal subjects. SuperAgers tend to have a thicker region of the cortex; fewer tangles (which are often a marker of Alzheimer’s disease), and a large supply of von Economo – a neuron that has been linked to higher social intelligence.

Scientists are using the scans of SuperAgers’ brains to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and to learn how they can strengthen the brains of people who age normally.

What does this mean for those of us who are aging normally? One of the SuperAgers, June Scott, has some advice.

June, who at 86 has traveled to 87 countries, recommends challenging your brain as often as possible. For June, that means traveling and experiencing a whole world of different cultures and customs. Scott has tracked gorillas in Rwanda and hung out with emperor penguins in Antarctica. Her fitbit regularly registers 18,000 steps as she continues to keep in shape for her next adventure.

June believes that her constant travel and exposure to different ways of thinking and living has helped keep her levels of von Economo high and her frontal cortex strong. Researchers seem to agree with her. We’ve learned that our brains thrive on new experiences and challenges, and that new neural pathways can be created even as we age.

If you can’t see the world like June, it may be time to explore the world around you. Give your brain a challenge. Learn something new, try a new activity. Though we may grow wise with age, it’s not a time to stop expanding our knowledge base. Start challenging yourself now and see if you’re a SuperAger too.   

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement doesn’t need to be a time for beach chairs and endless vacations. It can be, but many seniors are finding that they have time to discover their true passions once they bid work adieu. If you’ve always had a hidden hobby, retirement could be time to explore and share your interests with the world.

Robert Wittman made a career investigating art crimes and theft at the FBI. When he retired at 61, Wittman decided to use his decades of historic knowledge to open his own Art Appraisal and Investigation firm. Now, he chases art and history for fun around the world.

You don’t have to continue your career past retirement. You can also find ways to celebrate and explore your hobbies. Join a local crafting circle, offer knitting classes, work with a senior center to impart your technical knowledge to those who may need help. You may even offer up cooking classes, gardening workshops, or carpentry classes at a local community center, helping others to find a hobby they’ll cherish for years.

If you’re not sure what you want to do post-retirement, consider learning. Studies have proven that learning languages, physical skills, and interacting regularly with peers is an excellent way to maintain a healthy mind as you age. Have you always wanted to explore a subject and never had the time? Many community colleges offer seniors the chance to learn for free. Click here for a look at the e-learning resources near you.

Whether you’re looking to spread your knowledge and skills to others, or simply want to keep expanding your knowledge base, retirement offers you an excellent opportunity to spread your wings. Take your free time as a pass to expand your mind and your information base.

 

While memory impairment is often what comes to mind when one thinks of Dementia, agitation is what most often causes my phone to ring with a request for an evaluation. Behavioral changes, paranoid delusions, hallucinations and long periods of screaming were described by the psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, for whom Alzheimer’s Disease is named, in 1907 in his original case description of the disease nearly 100 years ago. ‘Agitation’ is a term that is most often used to describe a wide variety of behavioral symptoms seen in patients with dementia. The medical term used to describe these symptoms is the Behavioral and Psychiatric Symptoms of Dementia, or BPSD for short.

It is estimated that BPSD affects up to 90% of all individuals with dementia over the course of their illness, and is independently associated with poor outcomes, including distress among patients and caregivers, long-term hospitalization, misuse of medication, and increased health care costs.

There are several categories of BPSD, these include:

  • Disturbances of emotional experience such as mood lability, depression, anxiety, irritability/hostility, apathy, and crying spells.
  • Psychotic experiences including delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • Sleep Disturbances such as sleeping excessively, waking up frequently, sleepwalking and its related conditions.
  • Appetite Disturbance can manifest as low to non-existent appetite and weight loss, excessive appetite/demands for food, and ingestion of non-edible substances.
  • Disinhibited Behaviors include wandering (present in about 25% of patients with Alzheimer’s), yelling (seen is 25% of Nursing Home residents), excessive talking, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and hypermetamorphosis (the need to touch, and sometimes hoard, every object in sight).
  • Personality changes can manifest both as acting in atypical ways as well as experiencing a ‘distillation’ of the personality so that the person behaves as a caricature of themselves.
  • Uncooperative behaviors are most often related to personal care such as bathing, dressing, taking medications, and grooming activities.
  • Certain behaviors can be more commonly associated with different types of Dementia. For example, hallucinations can be a prominent feature of Lewy-Body Dementia, and Complex Sleep Related Behavioral Disorder is often associated with Parkinson’s Dementia, and changes in personality can be the first symptoms of Fronto-Temporal Dementia.

While these behaviors are often manifestations of the underlying brain damage caused by dementia, they are sometimes related to co-occurring medical conditions which should be evaluated as part of an assessment of BPSD. These include things such as urinary tract infections, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, diabetes, kidney and liver function, and pain syndromes.

Assessment of BPSD begins with a thorough evaluation consisting of gathering information from multiple sources to learn not only about the onset and evolution of the BPAD and underlying dementia, but also a detailed assessment of medical conditions, all medications being taken by the individual, as well as an assessment of the possible contributors/triggers of the BPSD from the living environment.

Improvement of BPSD is often achieved through a combination of adjustments in medication, treatment of any underlying medical conditions, and modification of the individual’s environment/caregiver approach. Because there are so many different types of agitation and because each patient’s background, life story, medical issues, and temperament are unique, an individualized approach that takes all of these variables into account is most likely to be successful.

 

When we think of retirement, most people picture a life of ease: sipping cocktails by a beach, playing with grand-kids, or finally getting a chance to relax on the couch and catch up on your Netflix time. All of these activities can be great fun, but where’s the challenge?

For years, scientists have seen a link between engaging in enjoyable activities and maintaining a healthy brain. But could merely engaging in enjoyable activities be enough?

In a new study featured in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, researchers have found that the brain works best when it’s challenged. The study followed two groups of seniors: One group was assigned to socialize for 15 hours a week, engaging their peers, but learning no new skills. The other group was taught skills on a digital camera for 14 hours a week, taking on progressively more complex assignments. Scientists found that the group who spent their time actively learning new and challenging skills did better on cognitive tests.

Researchers are drawing links between strong neural pathways in the brain and cognitive challenges. This means that while chatting with friends might make you feel young, learning Russian could keep your brain young.

How do you challenge your brain? Scientists are still trying to determine what parts of learning preserve neural pathways, but they believe that increasingly difficult tasks are the best way to keep your brain healthy. Objectives like learning a language, developing a new craft, or memorizing a dance routine are good ways to engage your brain in active learning. Consider perusing the brochures for community college classes near you or check neighborhood bulletin boards to help you find an interest that will allow you to challenge your brain.

Whether you’re hoping to stave off memory loss or just want to spend retirement discovering all the things you didn’t have time for while you worked, the point is this: Learning isn’t always easy, but hard-won lessons impart precious knowledge as well as promote a healthy brain.