Thursday, January 29, 2009

Danger of hypothermia for your aging parents

Did you realize hypothermia poses a threat to the elderly even inside their homes?
It is a very real threat. Hypothermia kills 600 Americans each year, half of whom are 65 or older.

To the elderly, it might make sense to try and save money by setting the thermostat back to 60-65 degrees. But, that is probably a very dangerous thing to do.
Next time you speak with or visit your aging parent, this is definitely something to check up on and discuss with your parent.

There are several factors that make the elderly more vulnerable to hypothermia indoors
1. Their bodies have less fat and muscle. Their metabolism is slower and, therefore, they generate less heat
2. They may lack awareness of feeling cold, due to dementia or the effect of prescription drugs.
3. Dehydration, common in the elderly, can be a factor.
4. A healthy person will wake up shivering in the night but an elderly person may just sleep through it with serious consequences.


Monday, January 26, 2009

NCOA Succeeds in Adding Senior Priorities to Economic Stimulus Bill

When we hear the billions of dollars being requested in the Economic Stimulus package, we wonder just where will the money go? Read on to learn about specific senior issues that hopefully will receive much needed funding.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has added several Senior priorities to the Economic Stimulus package. Congress is scheduled to vote on the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" this week.

Jobs: An additional $120 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in order to create 24,000 jobs.

Senior Nutrition: An additional $200 million for senior nutrition programs (congregate and home-delivered meals)

Medicaid Temporary Increase: An additional $87 billion to increase the federal Medicaid match rate (FMAP)

Additional SSI Payment: An additional $4.2 billion for a one-time additional Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment (an average of $450 for an individual and $630 for a couple)

Prevention and Wellness Fund
: An additional $3 billion to fight preventable chronic diseases, including $50 million for injury prevention

To read more detail about NCOA's request,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

US Navy "Sea Chanters" perform at the Inauguration

In honor our our family friend, Sarah, who performed with the US Navy "Sea Chanters" at the Inauguration ceremony ... here is her picture and her journal entry of the experience.

In Sarah's words:

Wow! What an amazing day!

The Sea Chanters and the Navy Band stayed the night at the Navy Base at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. We had to report between the hours of 9 and midnight because all the bridges into D.C. were going to be shut down by 2 in the morning and after midnight no personal vehicles would be allowed to check in on the base. I reported around 10 and tried to go to bed by 10:30. I set up my air mattress and closed my eyes, but never fell asleep. We all "woke" up around 3:15 and one of the band member's wife catered breakfast for us and we had pancakes, sausage, coffee, and OJ. We loaded the bus around 4:15 remembering to bring our scarves, ear muffs, and most importantly our military IDs; we arrived to the Ancostia Air Force base where we were "swept" by police before heading to our final destination, the Capitol building. We got to the Capitol about 7:30 and just waited...much of the military is hurry up and wait. We stepped out on the platform around 10:40 and from there the rest is history. I hope everyone was able to watch it on TV. The event was very thrilling and it was such an honor to represent the Navy and my country by singing the National Anthem.

This picture was from my viewpoint of the inauguration. The Washington Monument and the millions of people!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Four steps to live 14 years longer

A new British study included 20,200 men and women, aged 45 to 99 years old, who were followed for 11 years. Their health habits were measured and analyzed.

I doubt the findings will come as a surprise to any of us. But, if you or your aging parent is seeking specific ways to create a healthier, longer life....then read on.

The death rate is 4 times lowers for people with the following four health habits.
This is equivalent to 14 additional years of life.

1. Don't smoke.
2. Get at least 30 minutes daily physical activity
3. Drink moderately
4. Get at least 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

To read the complete article,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Money saving tips for you and your aging parent

Last week I decided to thoroughly research our phone, cable and cell monthly bills. The bills constantly increase. So, I set out to explore all options and see how much I can save our household....and then help my aging mother with similar saving tips.

1. I called our local/long distance carrier and got on another plan that includes unlimited local and long distance calls. Simple and easy to do. Saved $20/month there.

2. I called our cable company. We decided to cut back to Basic cable. At first we thought we'd be missing our favorite CNN, Weather and other channels. Then we realized we could watch most of that stuff online with their streaming video.
Saved $40/month.

3. We investigated our current cell phone usage. I no longer travel as a consultant but now work from home. My husband only used his cell phone for emergencies. So, we switched from a major carrier to pre-paid cell phones and were able to keep our current cell phone numbers. Saved $80/month.

Savings for these small changes = $140/month which is $1,680/year.

Based on our findings, I advised my mother to swap out her cell phone coverage with major carrier and switch to pre-paid cell, saving her about $50/month. Her phone and cable is provided through her inclusive contract with her retirement community, so no savings there. But, I plan to review each of her other expenses: auto and renters insurance, Blue Cross supplemental, prescription insurance, etc. My advice is to sit down with your aging parent at least once a year and check every vendor/supplier to determine if you can reduce costs in anyway.

The other thing I shared with Mom was Suzy Orman's great advice. Say the following sentence to yourself before you buy anything. I guarantee it will put a halt to impulse spending.
"Before you purchase anything, ask yourself if you need it or if you just want it".

My mother was surprised and said she had never heard anything like this. I suggested she say use this line before she buys anything. For those of you who follow my blog, you'll recall she has shopaholic tendencies. It will be interesting to see if this strategy will help her.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time for finance-checkup with your aging parent

January is a great time to sit down with our aging parents and review their financial status. As you're pulling together information for tax preparation, it's a good time to review monthly income, expenses and potential increased/new expenses for the coming year. In this post, I'll share a basic Excel workbook that I set up. I'll explain why this is so helpful to my mother and me. After reading this, please comment on any additional strategies that work for you and your aging parents.

"Financial review" may be a task that you and your parent do not look forward to. When I mention anything about finance, her checking account or expenses, my mother starts to shut down. She'll say "oh, I don't spend that much". She has friends whose adult children handle "all things financial". I will not operate in that mode. My mother is alert and of sound mind. And, I think she deserves to know and understand her financial situation.
She also is once again driving, shopping and spending money.
So, I believe the key is to give her enough information that will help her get the "big picture", understand her financial situation but not get overwhelmed.

In January, I prepare and share two different documents:
1. I copy and paste the summary information from her checking account statements (for October, November and December) into a Word document. I highlight the beginning balance, ending balance, and any deficit amount. I bold those deficit amounts. This allows Mom to see the trends in her income/expenses. By looking at the last 3 months, we also see any quarterly bills that she's paying.

2. Then I print off the basic Excel workbook I created when I helped her sell her home/move into her retirement community.
This includes 3 key figures:
1. her monthly income
2. her monthly expenses
3. how much leftover money she has for discretionary spending

I mail these documents to her and ask her to please check all the expense amounts and pencil in any corrected amounts. Then, I ask her to set a good time for a phone conversation, and we use these documents to guide our discussion. And, I update our Excel workbook. I can tell that Mom would far prefer to visit the dentist than deal with this. Hopefully, one year (in the not so distant future) this task will become more like "brushing her teeth"!

Below are the columns contained in the 2 Excel worksheets. I cannot tell you how many times I have referred to this Excel workbook. It has been most helpful to our family!


Worksheet #1 - Income sources
Columns: Institution, Phone number, Income type, Monthly gross, Monthly net, Other info (with total of Monthly net)

Worksheet #2 - Expenses
Columns: Expense category, Monthly expense...with total of Monthly expense, and also show Net remaining amount (for discretionary spending)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

UCLA research - postive impact on elderly of searching the web

Here's yet another research project that explores the positive aspects of internet searching in the elderly brain.

This time the researchers at UCLA selected healthy individuals between the ages of 55 and 76. Half had experience searching the internet. Participants underwent MRI scans as they read and also as they searched the web.

Of course, we'd expect to see greater brain activity in searching the web over reading. "When you read you are taking the information in and processing it, that's all. When you do an interactive activity you take it in, process it, and think about how you can use it".

There was another key finding
in particular research. The study showed a two-fold increase in brain activity among the websavvy compared with those having little internet experience.

Two of my thoughts:

1. I'd really like to see some longitudinal studies to follow a group of subjects, such as these, as they age. Does anyone know of such studies in progress?
2. All of us with aging parents should try to get our parents engaged in using a computer for research, blogging and communication. For those of you who have succeeded in getting your parents online, can you share your approach? Some of our parents don't even have access to a computer. One lady that I admire a lot is Claire who has a great blog (at age 84).

Here's the full article:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Elderly shopaholics killed by purchases

I happened to come across a news item from the UK, "Elderly Shopaholics Killed by Purchases". If you never knew a shopaholic, you would probably smile and think this article was a joke. It is not.

I know how serious this problem is because my elderly mother was (and probably still is) a shopaholic. I live 600 miles away from my mother. So, for the past 20 years she loved flying out and visiting our family. I never saw her home first-hand. My brother checked in on her each week and let me know "everything was fine". It was NOT. When I was called to her house last March, I walked into a home in total chaos. I found out that she would go out daily to shop (cheap clothes, non-perishables, all kinds of stuff). Until the EMT guys had to come to take her to the hospital, she denied entry to her friends and neighbors. It was like a hidden, dirty secret behind the facade of a lovely home. My mother finally admitted this was the way she dealt with her loneliness.

When I had her house cleaned out, a refuse guy carried away a ton of trash (after we had donated all the usable stuff). She also seemed to have a real hoarding problem. We helped her downsize, move and get organized in an apartment in a retirement community. I have to be vigilant that she doesn't begin this behavior again. The one saving grace is there is a cleaning service that comes in every Thursday and keeps an eye on things.

I think now that Mom has new friends and neighbors and activities that it will alleviate her loneliness and boredom, but I think her shopaholic activities were also somewhat of a compulsion. Has anyone out there addressed this kind of behavior in the elderly? If so, please comment and share solutions.

Here is the UK article about one woman who was knocked over by "pile of electrical appliances, suitcases and other objects" and then a man "believed to have been killed by dehydration when he could not find his way in a maze of tunnels through clutter in his home".

Friday, January 2, 2009

Top 5 Blogs of 2008 - Transition Aging Parents

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog in 2008! In honor of the New Year, here is a list of my Top Blogs of 2008 (as rated by my readers).

I started this blog in October 2008. As a long-distance caregiver to my mother, I helped her transition from her home of 30 years to a retirement community.
I share "lessons learned" on my Blog as well as interesting resources, research, stories that I find in my reading and blogging.

Top Blogs of 2008:
#5. "So far away - 20 questions for long-distance caregivers"

#4. "Checklist as you visit your aging parents"

#3. "Help your aging parents choose options before crisis strikes"

#2. "Top 10 list - moving into a retirement community"

And,the #1 favorite blog of 2008 is
"Book Review: Aging Gracefully - What the Nun Study Teaches us..."