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Know the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s

Know the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s, Early Detection Matters!

Your memory often changes as you grow older.  But memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging.  It may be a symptom of dementia.  Dementia is a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.  The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a fatal disorder that results in the loss of brain cells and function.

What’s the difference?

Signs of Alzheimer’s

  • Poor judgment and decision Making
  • Inability to manage a budget
  • Losing track of the date or the season
  • Difficulty having a conversation
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
Typical age – related changes

  • Making a bad decision ocassionally
  • Missing a monthly payment
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Losing things from time to time

10 SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spacial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgement
  9. Withdrawl from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood or personality

24/7 Alzheimer’s Helpline – Available all day every day.(800) 272-3900

5 Thanksgiving Activities for Seniors

The holiday season is upon us and brings with it numerous opportunities for turning typical days at home or in a senior community into seasonal experiences. Treat November as a month-long Thanksgiving celebration with regular themed activities scattered throughout. The seniors in your life can get involved by helping decorate and plan for the big day.

  1. Make gourd turkeys  | Thanksgiving Gourd Turkeys Combine two of the most popular symbols of fall with these Thanksgiving gourd turkeys that can be used to decorate your lobby and dining area. They can add some color and cuteness to the space, and the template provided makes getting the craft just right easy for any seniors that choose to participate.
  2. Recipe Competition | Have a family recipe competition. Everyone’s got their own family traditions and, while there’s probably some overlap in what your residents’ families have typically made for Thanksgiving, there are probably some unique family recipes that bring back fond memories for the individuals in the home. Let everyone submit their favorites and share them with the group to take a vote. The items that win will get made for the Thanksgiving feast on the big day.
  3. Felted acorn garland | Colorful felted acorns can get you in the autumn spirit (especially if you stick with traditional fall colors like brown, orange, and yellow) and give your seniors something productive to work on for an afternoon. If you string them together into a garland, you have a handy decoration for any room in the assisted living facility.
  4. Write thank you letters | Musing on what you’re thankful for is one thing, letting the people in your life that have helped make it better know how much they mean to you is another. You could do this anytime in November, but it might have the most impact if you time it so the letters will likely arrive on or around Thanksgiving Day. You can add a craft component to the letter writing by encouraging your residents to make some Thanksgiving-themed homemade stationary.
  5. Have a Thanksgiving dinner celebration | Everything else on the list has been leading up to this. Use the crafts your residents have made to decorate the celebration. Prepare the recipes shared and voted on by everyone in the facility. And bring out the gratitude tree to start the discussion of things people are thankful for.  Encourage your residents to be as involved and engaged in the proceedings as possible. Invite seniors to help with cooking and setting the room up, and encourage everyone to bring an idea of 3-5 things they’re thankful for to share.

There’s no reason that seniors should have a Thanksgiving that feels any less celebratory and cozy than those spent with family over the years. By incorporating activities in keeping with the season and encouraging them to be involved, you can keep the beloved tradition alive for them.

Downsizing the Family Home

So how do you do downsize? In researching this post I discovered Marni Jameson’s wonderful book “Downsizing the Family Home” published last year by AARP. She has learned how to dump everything, from husbands to houses to stuff. She starts off by quoting Morris’s contemporary, Mark Twain, acknowledging the emotional tugs:Our house was not unsentient matter — it had a heart and a soul, and eyes to see with…. We never came home from an absence that its face did not light up and speak out its eloquent welcome — and we could not enter it unmoved.Mark Twain’s house spoke to him, and no doubt the stuff in it did too. Jameson gets how stuff speaks to families, and how hard it is to part with it: “Simply and starkly put, sorting through a household makes us face our own mortality: the passage of time, life and death, where we’ve been, where we haven’t been, where we are in life, successes and regrets.”

When discussing the first cut of getting rid of stuff, Jameson channels Morris and writes:When sorting, ask these  questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Will I use it? If you don’t answer yes to one of them, the item goes. This is a message that resonates with every generation.  I came to the conclusion that the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge: Lose the emotional baggage and keep what is beautiful, loved or that sparks joy.

So how do you narrow it down when you’re dealing with your parents’ house of treasures? I particularly liked the advice Peter Walsh of TLC’s “Clean Sweep” gave Jameson: Imagine that your parents have deliberately left you five treasures. Your job is to find the items that have the strongest, happiest memories for you. Go through not in sadness but in loving memory. So look with joy for the few, best items to keep. Let the rest go.

Perhaps the best advice in Jameson’s book is the discussion about when to downsize.  Attitude — and timing — makes a difference. Moves to downsize are much easier when people choose to move, rather than when the move chooses them, which happens when people become too frail, have an accident, lose a spouse who made independent living possible, or start having cognitive issues.The consensus from the book, from my personal experience and from the many comments on my post is that we should get ahead of the problem. Get rid of the stuff while you can and don’t leave it to your kids, because they really will not thank you for it or know what to do with it. For your kids, emptying your house will not spark joy.

Downsizing has become a significant industry, and with 8,000 Americans turning 65 every day, there’s a significant market. There’s even a professional association, the National Association of Senior Move Managers, “who specialize in helping older adults and their families through the daunting process of transitioning to a new residence.”  There are companies that will come into your home and organize your stuff, photograph it and get rid of it, using the latest social media resources.

When is Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 Coverage?

When is Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 Coverage?

A: For 2018 Medicare coverage, open enrollment is in the fall of 2017, from October 15 to December 7. (The specific dates changed in 2011, but have been the same ever since, and should remain as-is for the foreseeable future.)

During this annual enrollment period (AEP)  you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must meet some basic criteria.

  • You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
  • You must live in the plan’s service area.
  • You cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease(some exceptions apply).

Is auto-renewal available?

If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan and you don’t want to make changes to your coverage for 2018, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan will still be available in 2018. If your plan is being discontinued and isn’t eligible for renewal, you will receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier prior to open enrollment. If you don’t, it means you can keep your plan without doing anything during open enrollment.

But be aware that your benefits and premium could be changing for 2018. So even if you’re confident that you want to keep your current coverage for the coming year, it’s important to make sure you understand any changes that may apply, and that you’ve double checked to make sure that your current plan is still the best available option. The available plans and what they cover changes from one year to the next, so even if the plan you have now was the best option when you shopped last year, it’s important to verify that again before you lock yourself in for another year.

Enrolling in Original Medicare

If you didn’t sign up for Medicare A and B when you were first eligible, you have a chance to do so each year from January 1 to March 31, with coverage effective July 1.  You may be subject to a late enrollment penalty however.

2018 Medicare coverage changes

Do you have questions about the 2018 medicare coverage changes?

Here are some changes to be aware of for 2018:

  • Starting in April 2018, Medicare beneficiaries will begin receiving new Medicare ID cards that don’t have Social Security numbers on them. This change was announced in September 2017. The new cards will have randomly generated ID numbers instead of Social Security numbers. You can continue to use your current card until your new one arrives. Once it does, you’ll want to destroy and securely dispose of your old one, and begin using the new one instead.
  • Medicare recipients reaching the donut hole will benefit from better prescription drug discounts. The gap in prescription drug coverage (the donut hole) starts when someone reaches the initial coverage limit ($3,750 in 2018), and ends when they have spent $5,000. The hole will be closed by 2020 and enrollees will pay just 25 percent of the cost of their drugs. For 2018, while in the donut hole, enrollees will pay 35 percent of the cost of brand name drugs. The Medicare Part D deductible will be $405 in 2018.
  • Medicare Part B premiums will fluctuate again for 2018.In 2017, most Medicare Part B enrollees paid an average of $109/month for their Part B premium, although enrollees with income above $85,000 had higher premiums.  We may expect the premium to be highter in 2018.
  • New income brackets for Part B enrollees with high incomes. new income brackets were created to determine Part B premiums for high-income Medicare enrollees. The new brackets take effect in 2018. For Medicare purposes, “high income” begins at $85,001 for a single individual, and $170,001 for a married couple. Enrollees with income between $85,001 and $107,000 ($170,001 and $214,000 for a married couple) won’t see any changes to their bracket. But enrollees with income above those limits may find that they are in a higher bracket. The highest bracket will now apply to those with income above $160,000 ($320,000 for a married couple).
  • Medicare Advantage plans continue to see changes. While healthcare reform is slowly reducing rebates paid to Medicare Advantage plans, these plans continue to be popular. 31 percent of Medicare recipients were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2016 – a significant increase from the enrollment total in 2009 when the ACA was signed into law. These plans may change yearly.

Most Medicare beneficiaries should receive their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers by Sept. 30. CMS will make information available to the public on Medicare.gov in October. The Medicare website is for individuals with questions about Medicare rules, timelines, Medicare Part D, etc.

It’s important to carefully review the information sent to you by your plan provider, since this will cover any possible changes.  See ACA Dates and Deadlines for the deadlines to enroll.

 

 

ACA Dates and deadlines for 2018 Health Insurance

The 2018 Open Enrollment Period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.
Plans sold during Open Enrollment start January 1, 2018.

If you haven’t applied for insurance on HealthCare.gov before, here’s what you need to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange”).

The Health Insurance Marketplace is for people who don’t have health coverage
If you don’t have health insurance through a job, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or another source that provides qualifying health coverage, the Marketplace can help you get covered.

If you have job-based insurance: You can buy a plan through the Marketplace, but you’ll pay full price unless your employer’s insurance doesn’t meet certain standards. Most job-based plans do meet the standards.
If you have Medicare: You can’t switch to Marketplace insurance, supplement your coverage with a Marketplace plan, or buy a Marketplace dental plan. Learn about Medicare and the Marketplace.
What you pay for insurance depends on your income – and you’ll probably save
Your savings depend on your expected household income for the year. Over 8 in 10 people who apply are eligible to save, and most can find plans for $50 to $100 per month (after accounting for savings).

Get a quick idea if you’ll save. Based on your income estimate, we’ll tell you if you qualify for:

A health insurance plan with savings based on your income

You may qualify for a premium tax creditthat lowers your monthly insurance bill, and for extra savings on out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments.
The plans are offered by private insurance companies with a range of prices and features.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Medicaid and CHIP provide free or low-cost coverage to millions of people and families with limited income, disabilities, and some other situations.

Many states are expanding Medicaid to cover all households below certain incomes. See if your state is expanding and if your income is in range to qualify.  Your children may qualify for CHIP even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid.

You can apply for coverage 4 ways Applying on HealthCare.gov is easier than ever, and many people can apply, pick a plan, and enroll in a single sitting. You can apply any way that works for you:

After December 15, you can enroll in 2018 health insurance only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Don’t let stress get the best of you

Finding support and identifying coping strategies are essential steps in combating the effects of stress.

Stress gets a bad rap, but anxiety in general doesn’t always have to be negative. In some cases, stress serves as motivation to get things done. It can help us act when were in dangerous situations, as our bodies are wired with a fight-or-flight response that gives us the ability to run faster and think more quickly in the face of an emergency.

Problems can occur when a situation is too stressful or the stress is chronic, wearing us down and bringing on negative effects. Think of cars going over a bridge. Over time, the bridge starts to show some cracks in it. Your body reacts the same way with repeated stress. If you’re tense, you’re more likely to have problems like muscle strains. You’ll also have a lowered immune system and be more susceptible to getting sick.

You might also notice that you’re increasingly irritable and more apt to snap at others. In addition, you may have trouble sleeping, which just results in more stress creating a cyclical pattern in which you’re less adept at dealing with things and increasingly unable to get a good nights sleep. Stress can also elevate your blood pressure, which in the long run could put you at greater risk for heart problems.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to mitigate the effects of stress. The most important step is to find support wherever you can. Maybe its meeting with a regular group of friends twice a month, finding a message board online where you can vent or chatting one-on-one with friends or family on the phone. There’s comfort in knowing other people understand you and your situation.

Don’t overlook something as simple as the laughter of a good friend. It’s quite beneficial.

A number of other techniques are useful to reduce stress. What works best for you depends on your talents and tastes. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep a journal
  • Go for a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Do yoga
  • Practice belly breathing
  • Get a massage
  • Paint
  • Knit
  • Dance
  • Complete a fun home improvement project

Find something that calms you and gets you in the right mindset to face the challenges in your life. It could be something you used to do that brought you joy. Oftentimes the things we drop when we get stressed are the things we need most in order to better take care of ourselves.

If managing your stress seems impossible or you’re feeling really burnt out or depressed, you might consider seeing a professional for more individualized methods of coping with the stress you’re experiencing.

Whatever you do, pay attention to how you’re feeling the goal is to keep stress at minimal levels so that its motivating, not debilitating.

By Dr. Andrea Bonior:  Andrea Bonior, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist who serves on the adjunct faculty of Georgetown University and maintains a private practice. Shes the author of the book The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up with Your Friends.

Epilepsy and Seizures in Older Adults

Did you know that seizures are more likely to develop in older adults? Learn to recognize the signs of seizures and how you can help.

Epilepsy is a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes seizures. In the United States, 2.4 million adults aged 18 years or older have active epilepsy.  About 1% of adults 65 years of age and older have active epilepsy, which is about 447,000 people. That’s about the size of Corpus Christi, TX. With the aging of the population, we can expect to see greater numbers of people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is more likely to develop in older adults rather than younger adults because as people age, the risk of seizures and epilepsy rises.3,4 Some older adults may have lived with epilepsy throughout their lives, but others might develop epilepsy later in life. It isn’t always easy to tell when you, a friend or family member, or someone you care for develops epilepsy later in life.

That’s because seizures are harder to recognize in older adults, and many go unnoticed. For example, memory problems, confusion, falls, dizziness, or sensory changes like numbness are often blamed on “getting older.”3,4 However, these can actually be signs of seizures.

There are many different signs of seizures because there are many types of seizures. When most people think of a seizure, they think of a generalized seizure. In this type of seizure, the person may cry out, fall, shake or jerk, and become unaware of what’s going on around them. However, complex partial seizures are the most common type of seizure, including in older adults. This type of seizure can make a person appear confused or dazed.

It is important to recognize and report these signs and symptoms to a health care provider so they can determine the cause and recommend the right treatment.

Challenges in Older Adults

Older adults with epilepsy may face greater challenges than other age groups. Balancing epilepsy treatment when taking medicines for other health problems can be difficult. Older adults also have a high risk of falls, which can lead to serious injury. Additionally, some epilepsy medicines can cause bone loss which can increase risk of falls and injury.

Epilepsy can limit daily activities such as driving a car. People who do not have control of their seizures are restricted from driving for different time periods, determined by the state you live in. After a lifetime of independence, losing the ability to drive can be especially difficult for older adults.

Most adults with epilepsy have good seizure control with medicines.  Like other age groups, older adults with epilepsy can live a healthy, independent, and active lifestyle. Epilepsy specialists can help older adults to find the right treatment. Learn how to find an epilepsy specialist at the Epilepsy Foundation website.

New Epilepsy and Seizures in Older Adults

About half of older adults who are told they have epilepsy do not know the cause of their condition.

Some Known causes include:

  • Stroke
  • Head injury
  • Neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Alcoholism and other substance abuse
  • Brain tumor

Prevent Stroke

Stroke is a common cause of new epilepsy in older adults. A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain become damaged or die.

You may lower your chances of stroke by making healthy lifestyle choices such as:

  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Getting enough exercise.
  • Not smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol use.

And controlling medical conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Diabetes.

10 Halloween Activities for Seniors

Halloween Crafts for Seniors

Halloween crafts can be completed early in October so you can use them as decorations throughout the rest of the month. The seniors can put their mark on their home or building’s look for a little while and you’ll set the Halloween atmosphere for the weeks to come.

  1. Decorate pumpkins. One of the best traditional crafts for Halloween time is making jack-o-lanterns. You can have a pumpkin painting day or give them sharpies to draw designs on the pumpkins.
  2. Make spiderwebs. You can get together to make simple and cheap spiderwebs to hang around the house or community out of coffee filters or paper plates. Throw in a little yarn and the patient will also have the option of creating larger cobweb decorations for the space.
  3. Make paper ghosts. Some white paper, a black sharpie, and scissors are all your group needs to make these ghosts. You can hang them around the home or facility.  You can do the cutting is scissors pose an issue.
  4. Decorative Halloween garlands. For one more addition to your homemade decorations, you can task any interested seniors with making decorative Halloween garlands for your hallways. Here are some ideas of bat and ghost garlands and glow-in-the-dark ones.
  5. Halloween charades Think of as many different Halloween-related themes and ideas you can think of to act out. You should all have fun watching people mime Dracula or try to figure out how to act like a spider. 
  6. Mummy Mason Jars Take a mason jar and wrap it with some gauze bandage tape.   hot glue (or glue-stick) on a couple of googly eyes … add in a little flame-less tea light.
  7. Share scary stories Your residents probably know some good ones, but you can come equipped with a book or some stories from the internet just in case. If enough of your residents express an interest in sharing their own scary stories, you could make it into a contest.
  8. Homemade costume contest Encourage your seniors to come up with homemade mask and costumes ideas. If you can make some materials available for them to work with, that may spark inspiration in a few of them. On Halloween, have everyone vote on which costume came out the best.
  9. Assisted living trick-or-treat Most seniors probably feel too old or silly to trick-or-treat, but trick-or-treating within the assisted living facility. Let any seniors that want to participate get dressed up and hit up trick-or-treating stations you set up.
  10. Classic horror movie marathon Your seniors probably have some favorite old classic horror movies. Poll them to pick out a few of the most popular and give them the opportunity to  watch them on Halloween or in the days leading up to it.

We hope your friends and families enjoy these Halloween activities for seniors.

Physical Activity is Essential to Healthy Aging

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

If you’re 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed below.

For Important Health Benefits

Older adults need at least:

jogging 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and

weight trainingmuscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR

jogging 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and

weight trainingmuscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR

walking joggingAn equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and

weight trainingmuscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Older adults should increase their activity to:

jogging 5 hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and

weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR

jogging 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) each week of vigrous-intensity aerobic activity and

weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR

walkingAn equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and

weight training muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

More time equals more health benefits

If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you’ll gain even more health benefits.

Aerobic activity – what counts?

Aerobic activity or “cardio” gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you’re doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Even something as simple as walking is a great way to get the aerobic activity you need, as long as it’s at a moderately intense pace.

Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.

How do you know if you’re doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity?
On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You’ll also notice that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.

Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8 on this scale. Your heart rate will increase quite a bit and you’ll be breathing hard enough so that you won’t be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.

You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a mix of the two each week. Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Everyone’s fitness level is different. This means that walking may feel like a moderately intense activity to you, but for others, it may feel vigorous. It all depends on you – the shape you’re in, what you feel comfortable doing, and your health condition. What’s important is that you do physical activities that are right for you and your abilities.

Muscle-strengthening activities – what counts?

Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to make your muscles stronger at least 2 days a week. These types of activities will help keep you from losing muscle as you get older.

To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing one sit-up. Try to do 8—12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it’s at home or the gym. The activities you choose should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). You may want to try:

  • Lifting weights
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push ups, sit ups)
  • Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
  • Yoga
  • Thai Chi