Heat Takes a Toll on Seniors

Experts Encourage Families to Keep a Close Eye on Older Loved Ones During Heat Wave

Nobody likes extreme and prolonged heat, but such conditions can be very dangerous and heatpotentially deadly for seniors.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. On average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined (http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php).

“The elderly are often the most vulnerable to severe heat,” said Mike Brunt, local owner of Home Instead Senior Care® franchise office serving Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Beaverton and Tigard. “Their bodies do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature, they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat and they are often on a prescription medicine that impairs the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibits perspiration,” he continued.

Following are tips from the local Home Instead Senior Careoffice, to help seniors combat the heat:

  • Keep a glass of water in every room to quickly and easily access fluids. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Go through the closet and remove all heavy materials, long sleeves and dark colors. Instead look for short sleeves, lightweight rayons or cottons, and light-colored clothing that reflect the heat.
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.
  • Save household chores, particularly washing and drying clothes and operating the dishwasher, for evenings when the weather is cooler.
  • Relax indoors during high heat times – between 3 and 5 p.m. in the afternoon.
  • Keep shades down and blinds pulled during the heat of the day.
  • Keep the house tightly closed, so it is more energy efficient.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Foods with a lot of protein increase metabolic heat production which can, in turn, increase water loss.
  • If increased use of a central air conditioning system causes higher utility bills that are a problem for your budget, consider purchasing a fan or small window unit that can cool down a home at a lower cost. However, do not rely on a fan as the primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your senior shows symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

For more information about the heat, visit the National Weather Service Web site at http://www.noaa.gov and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site at www.fema.gov. Or, to learn more about Home Instead Senior Care, log on to www.homeinstead.com

Elder Safe Program

BLOG post by Liz Fischer, June 2014

We have recently attended a couple of forums on elder abuse and were astonished at how many seniors have been physically, mentally or financially abused.

Elder mistreatment (i.e. elder abuseabuse and neglect) is defined as intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder

Unfortunately, we simply do not know for certain how many people are suffering from elder abuse and neglect. It appears that female elders are abused at a higher rate than males and that the older one is, the more likely one is to be abused.

Signs of elder abuse may be missed by professionals working with older Americans because of lack of training on detecting abuse. The elderly may be reluctant to report abuse themselves because of fear of retaliation, lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to report, or because they don’t want to get the abuser (90% of whom are family members) in trouble.

The Washington County Sheriff Department has an Elder Safe  program that helps victims aged 65 and older after a crime is reported to police and continues to help them through the criminal justice system.

Based at the Sheriff’s Office, Elder Safe collaborates with the District Attorney’s Office and the Disability, Aging & Veteran Services and city police departments to coordinate services.

Volunteer victim advocates provide crime victims with emotional support and information relating to the criminal justice system and their case. Assistance tailored to the unique circumstance of each victim may include personal support, court advocacy, or help filling out forms. Program staff and volunteers understand the needs of victims for information, validation, restitution, testimony, and support as their cases travel through the criminal justice system.

Learn more about the Washington County Elder Safe Program

Learn more about the National Center of Elder Abuse Administration on Aging

Help Me Home Program

Blog post by Liz Fischer, June 2014

Did you know Washington County Sheriff’s office now offers a Help Me Home program?  It is sheriffdesigned to help at risk or endangered residents living in Washington County who may become lost and have difficulty communicating vital information about themselves.

Often these individuals have left the safety of their homes without the knowledge of their caregiver. Help Me Home is a voluntary enrollment program for adults and children who may become lost due to a disability. Those who are registered in this program have their identification photo and pertinent information placed in a database that deputies and law enforcement personnel can access via laptops in their patrol cruisers. Registrant information is kept confidential.

When a deputy or police officer finds your loved one alone, they can quickly query the database using personal identifiers. With a match in the database caregivers will be contacted immediately to let them know their love done has been located.

For detailed application information and forms go to the Help Me HOme website at: www.co.washington.or.us/helpmehome or contact Marcia Langer at 503-846-6048 or marcia_langer@co.washington.or.us.

Octogenarian’s Dance Performance Amazing

BLOG post by Mike Brunt, June 2014

I always enjoy seeing seniors do the unexpected and know you’ll enjoy this too.

When the 80-year old woman appeared on the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent,” there were moredancers than a few skeptical glances from the judges and the crowd. But once Paddy and her younger cohort, Nico, got a few minutes into their salsa routine, the crowd was in disbelief at the daring and thrilling moves made by this octogenarian

Watch the amazing dance routine.

YOUR MONEY–Living Within Your Means—and Assets

BLOG post by Mike Brunt, June 2014

I saw this article in our Certified Senior Adviser newsletter and thought you would find the information useful too. We all think about retirement and saving enough money to retire comfortably. This article provides some good information on planning for retirement and living within your means.

Living on your retirement savings can be a constant balancing act: between maintaining your Senior Calculatorstandard of living and making sure you don’t outlive your savings. How do you know if you’re withdrawing too much from your financial portfolio and threatening your ability to enjoy life as you age? Or maybe you’re taking out too little, refraining from the kind of activities you desire, such as traveling, only to end up with more than adequate assets when you die. There are no easy answers to this dilemma, although retirement experts offer a few suggestions.

The 4 Percent Rule

The traditional standard for how much money you should withdraw each year after retirement is the 4 percent rule, in which you withdraw a fixed amount from your portfolio on a periodic basis. Typically this is adjusted for inflation annually, so the amount grows over time while remaining constant in real terms. In other words, you maintain the same lifestyle from year to year.

Don’t Forget Required WithdrawalsThe IRS requires owners of retirement-plan assets, such as traditional IRAs, to take withdrawals each year after turning 70½. Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.The purpose of the required minimum distribution (RMD) is to spread out your IRA’s taxable distributions over your life expectancy rather than accumulating funds to leave as an inheritance. The IRS allows you to withdraw more than the minimum required amount. Be aware that your withdrawals will be included in your taxable income except for any part that was previously taxed or that can be received tax-free (such as qualified distributions from designated Roth accounts).IRS Publication 590 explains the percentage that you’re required to pull out each year, but the math can be difficult. Free online calculators can help you figure out RMD:

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority;
T. Rowe PriceBankrate.

Under this formula, retirees add up their retirement savings, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, and then withdraw 4 percent of the portfolio’s overall value in the first year of retirement. The next year, the retiree takes out another 4 percent plus the rate of inflation, and so on. Although it’s called the 4 percent rule, the typical withdrawal range is between 4 and 5 percent.

A similar method is to base withdrawals on the value of the financial market. One expert found that withdrawing at a rate around 5.5 percent when markets are strong and reducing the withdrawal amounts when times are tough is a better standard than withdrawing at a fixed rate.

Annuities offer another simple way to withdraw retirement funds because you’re promised the same income payments for life. However, most annuities aren’t inflation adjusted, which means your payments won’t keep up with inflation. Plus, if you die early, you may forfeit any money left in the annuity. One other drawback to an annuity is that your money is tied up in investments, preventing access to emergency cash.

Newer Models

Another fixed approach is to base your retirement withdrawals on your life expectancy. The Social Security Administration provides tables that give averages. Of course, you need to keep in mind your health and your genetic disposition toward life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

In its simplest form, to figure out how much you could withdraw each year, divide your savings/investments by your remaining years. For example, if your life expectancy is 20 more years, you could withdraw one-twentieth every year. However, if your assets keep growing, you might have more left than you planned, and that money may have been better used when you were younger and more active

Market Watch advocates a slightly different approach. The “Safety First Withdrawal Idea” focuses first on what you need to maintain your standard of living during retirement and then matches your financial resources to your required expenses. The basic idea is to use conservative investments to preserve your standard of living, such as U.S. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), lifetime annuities from blue-chip issuers and federally insured savings accounts. Social Security is a key part of this type of safety-first portfolio, because the retirement benefits are guaranteed and predictable. Once you’ve created an income plan from your conservative investments, you can invest your remaining money in riskier funds. If you get good returns, you can spend that money on more frivolous purchases.

More Flexible Approaches

J.P. Morgan Asset Management recommends a more flexible approach to retirement withdrawal strategies. Rather than sticking to one formula, the asset manager suggests reacting to changes in wealth, age and income streams by periodically adjusting withdrawal rates and portfolio asset allocations (Investment News). For example, as a retiree gets older or has maintained her assets, she could raise her withdrawal rates.

To figure out the ideal withdrawal rates for each age, J.P. Morgan’s model weighs five factors: the individual’s preference for timing and amount of withdrawals, lifetime income, current age and life expectancy, the predictability of the market and extreme events, and the retiree’s need to spend the money.

The website Can I Retire Yet recommends a withdrawal system that sells in response to your own “routine income” needs rather than in response to market events.” The “total return approach” or “active safe withdrawals” concept means selling some of your most appreciated assets once or twice a year, when the money is needed.

“This is where asset allocation comes into play,” writes Darrow Kirkpatrick. “For me, it makes no sense to live off your conservative cash and bond buckets when stock markets are up. That’s like dipping into the storehouse when there is fresh, healthy grain available in the fields. Much better to be selling volatile equity assets when they are in favor, and to preserve your safe ‘buckets’ for the bad times.

“When those bad times come, as they inevitably will, then the flexible withdrawal approach begins dipping into the safe cash and bond buckets that have been set aside.” He says new research suggests that it may be better to spend bonds first, which goes against traditional advice, producing a rising equity allocation for the long term. In fact, continuing low interest rates mean retirees are no longer depending on bonds, as they once were.

Kiplinger.com dubs a similar approach in “lifestyle-driven investing.” Erin Botsford, a financial planner in Frisco, Tex., and author of The Big Retirement Risk, urges clients to divide their expenses into four categories: needs, wants, likes and wishes.

Then she recommends relying on “lifestyle investments”—those that produce income, either now or in the future, and are safe, predictable or guaranteed—to cover basic needs. “Food and shelter take a higher priority than vacations and luxury cars,” she says. “Shouldn’t your investment plan reflect this reality?”

If your current savings aren’t enough to support your projected retirement lifestyle, you may have to forgo some of your wants, likes or wishes, or be willing to save more or work longer to afford them, she says.

In the end, most of us will borrow bits of different withdrawal systems to create what works best for us and adjust our retirement plans and withdrawals according to our own set of circumstances—whether it’s poor or good health, still-dependent adult children or the urgent need to live in a warm climate.

Calculators and Simulations

You can plug your figures into various retirement withdrawal calculators and simulations. Here are a few:

Vanguard’s tool determines how much you can withdraw each month based on how much you’ve saved, your asset allocation (whether conservative, moderate or aggressive), how long you expect to spend in retirement and which withdrawal method you plan to use.

Once you plug in those figures and answers, its interactive tool shows how much money you could have withdrawn from your portfolio during the time the returns were calculated, using the dollar-adjusted withdrawal method. In general, Vanguard suggests making withdrawals at rates no greater than 3 percent to 5 percent at the outset of your retirement, depending on your withdrawal method.

E*Trade Easy Retirement Calculator asks for your expected age of retirement, how much you’ll get in Social Security, your assets (savings and investments), your investment status (conservative to aggressive) and an estimate of how much you’ll have when you retire. After you input your retirement monthly expenses (mortgage, healthcare, home expenses, etc.), the tool produces a retirement plan comparing how much you’ll need versus how much you’ll have.

Monte Carlo Retirement Calculator factors in market volatility, running random iterations, so you can see your chances of meeting your goal. To determine your goal, provide your desired annual withdrawal amount and the number of years you want the account to last. The outcome, which is slightly different each time you perform the exercise, shows your chances of failure and success.

Sources

“4% withdrawal rate in retirement unrealistic in real world, researchers say,” February 2014 Investment News
“Easy Retirement Calculator,” 
E-Trade
“Monte Carlo Retirement Calculator,” 
Money Chimp
“New Strategies to Ease Into a Secure Retirement,” March 2012 
Kiplinger.com
“Retirement Withdrawal Strategies,” December 2013 
Can I Retire Yet
“The ‘Safety First’ Guide To Retirement Withdrawals,” September 2013, 
Forbes Next Avenue

Four Vaccines Urged for Seniors

Blog post by Mike Brunt, June 2014

I saw this article and thought it would be good information to pass on to you. We all thought vaccineswe were done with vaccines once we reached adulthood. It’s important to check with your doctors to ensure you’re still up to date with important shots so you can proactively avoid some of the diseases that can be so detrimental to senior’s health.

In the 1920s, the respiratory disease diphtheria was one of parents’ biggest fears for their children. In the United States, an estimated 100,000-200,000 cases of diphtheria per year caused 13,000-15,000 deaths, mainly children, in that decade (Wikipedia). Today, diphtheria vaccines have largely eradicated the disease from the United States. In fact, if diphtheria is remembered at all today, it’s because of the celebrated story of a relay by sled dogs and their mushers to deliver diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles away to Nome, Alaska, to prevent a predicted epidemic. The initial relay in 1925 became today’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Today, vaccines have curbed the development of many diseases that were once considered fatal, especially in older adults. While some vaccines have side effects, health experts say that the benefits typically outweigh the possible complications of certain illnesses in seniors. Except for people with certain health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney problems or a condition that weakens the immune system, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection. Consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each vaccine for you.

Vaccines work by exposing you to dead or weakened disease-causing microorganisms, which causes your body’s immune system to produce antibodies that fight the microorganisms, helping to make you immune to a specific disease. Most vaccines are given through a simple injection, usually in your arm, although some are administered by mouth or nasal spray.

Experts recommend four vaccinations for seniors: flu, pneumonia, shingles and a combined tetanus-diptheria-pertussis.

Flu

The most prevalent vaccine is for influenza, commonly called the flu, a contagious illness caused by viruses. Older people are at the highest risk of developing serious flu complications that require hospitalization; in some cases, the flu can be fatal. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older. As you age, your immune system weakens, which makes you more susceptible to the flu.

Health experts recommend that those 50 or older should receive one dose of influenza vaccine every year, preferably in October or November, before the winter flu season starts. Flu season usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as late as May. Early immunization is most effective, but it is not too late to get the vaccine in December, January or later. Flu vaccines are needed every year because immunity is short-lived and vaccine manufacturers make updates every year to combat current strains of the virus.

If you get the flu vaccine, you are 60 percent less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider. Vaccination may also reduce illness, antibiotic use, time lost from work, hospitalizations and deaths.

Although the flu vaccine is meant to protect you for one flu season, evidence supports that immunity declines more quickly in older people. Therefore, another flu vaccine option is available—one that contains a higher dose of antigen, the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make an antibody. Designed specifically for people 65 and older, this alternative is intended to create a stronger immune response.

For those worried about the possible dangers, seasonal flu vaccines have a good safety track record (vaccines.gov). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor their safety. As with any drug, mild side effects, such as soreness, headaches and fever, are common. Less common and more serious are severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, hives or facial swelling; for these, seek medical attention immediately.

Shingles

Shingles is an extremely painful and contagious blistering rash, which is activated by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in a dormant state but can reactivate years later, for reasons not fully known. At least 1 million people a year in the United States get shingles.

The zoster vaccine, which scientists developed in 2006, is not guaranteed to prevent shingles, but it can decrease your risk by about 50 percent, or at least minimize its severity. Vaccines.gov recommends that anyone 60 years of age or older get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99 percent of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember. Shingles is far more common in people 50 years of age and older than in younger people, and increasing age can result in more severe effects.

A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts from two to four weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. Very rarely, a shingles infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death.

For approximately 20 percent of people, severe pain, called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), can continue long after the shingles rash clears up. Its repercussions are more widespread in seniors, affecting up to half of untreated people who are 60 years of age and older. Although the pain from PHN may be debilitating, it usually resolves in a few weeks or months.

While any vaccine can carry risks, no serious problems have been identified with the shingles vaccine. Mild reactions can include headache and redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the site of the injection.

Pneumonia

Infection from pneumococcal bacteria is one of the leading causes of death in the United States from a vaccine-preventable disease. Seniors, especially, are susceptible to pneumonia, which is responsible each year for 60,000 deaths among those over 65. The CDC recommends that people age 65 and older receive a one-time dose of pneumococcal vaccine; those who were vaccinated more than five years ago and were younger than 65 at the time should get a one-time repeat vaccination.

Pneumococcal infections, which include pneumonia, blood infections (bacteremia), brain infections (pneumoccocal meningitis) and middle-ear infections, are spread through respiratory secretions, like coughing and sneezing. The disease comes from a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) found in many people’s noses and throats.

Pneumonia symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. In addition to redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, vaccine side effects may include mild fever, fatigue, headache, chills or muscle pain.

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, all caused by bacteria, can be very serious, for adolescents as well as adults. Before vaccines, the United States saw as many as 200,000 diptheria and pertussis cases annually and hundreds of tetanus infections. Since vaccination began, tetanus and diphtheria have dropped by about 99 percent and pertussis by roughly 80 percent (CDC). The Tdap vaccination covers all three diseases.

The tetanus bacteria enters the body when cuts, scratches or wounds come into contact with contaminated soil, dust or manure. Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, affects the nervous system, causing painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. In some cases, you can’t open your mouth, swallow or even breathe. It can be deadly, particularly for older people, killing approximately one out of five people who are infected. Because the immunity from past tetanus shots eventually fades, ask your doctor if you are due for another vaccination.

Diphtheria is a respiratory bacterial infection that spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing. If left untreated, it can cause airway obstruction, coma and death. Although both tetanus and diphtheria are rare in the United States today, people who become infected often have severe complications.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, produces severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. The illness can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures from coughing. Up to 2 percent of adolescents and 5 percent of adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which could include pneumonia or death. Seniors are increasingly getting pertussis, possibly due to dwindling immunity.

You should get the Tdap vaccination as a one-time booster, regardless of when you received your last tetanus-diphtheria vaccine. Side effects include redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Senior Immunizations,” 
John Muir Health
Vaccines.gov
“Vaccines for Seniors,” 
Everyday Health

‘There is No Cure for Aging’ — So Embrace It

Blog post by Mike Brunt

We saw this advertisement from Age UK that brought a smile to our face, we hope you enjoy it adtoo.

A TV ad is circulating an important message: “Aging isn’t an illness, but a way of life.”

Age UK’s “Love Later Life” ad aims to reshape society’s view on aging. The video features a poem by Roger McGough that encourages people to seize the day and enjoy the adventure of aging.

Older Adults and Technology Use

Blog post by Mike Brunt

We often read articles on seniors that we like to share. This one looks at how seniors are using technology and the beneficial outcomes of that adoption.woman-using-laptop

Pew Internet Research Project study on seniors and the internet looked at how older adults are using technology in their lives. Technology adoption among seniors has been increasing slowly but surely. According to the report, 77% of seniors have a cell phone, 59% use the internet, and almost half have broadband at home.

This article examines how seniors face hurdles to to adopting new technology, how once they join the online world digital technology becomes an integral part of their daily lives, what devices they’re using and how they’re being used and how social media can help seniors stay connected to friends and family.

What is your Aging IQ?

There are a lot of stereotypes about seniors, are they true? How would you answer the following questions?bikers

Do you think that getting older means giving up on exercise? Actually, physical activity at any age can help make your heart, lungs, and muscles stronger.

Do you think that older adults are bad drivers? Not really. Older adults really tend to be safe drivers who engage in less risky behaviors behind the wheel.

Do you think older adults have nothing left to learn? As a matter of fact, there is no age limit on learning new skills or improving your existing ones.

The National Institute on Aging’s quiz, What’s Your Aging IQ? Can be answered on-line or is available as a free booklet (even bulk copies) to help start conversations about aging and challenge aging stereotypes.

Elder Abuse Forum May 16

Research shows that as many as five million older adults are victims of elder abuse each year and that financial exploitation costs seniors an estimated $3 billion writingannually. To address this growing problem, Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services (DAVS) is hosting an Elder Abuse Forum. This community event takes place on Friday, May 16, from 1-4 p.m., at theHillsboro Civic Center.

Topics include identifying and reporting elder abuse as well as financial scams and how to avoid them.

The forum is appropriate for all community members, including caregivers, law enforcement, social service providers and others who routinely come in contact with older adults.

For more information about this event, please contact Randy Mifflin at 503-846-3084 or visit the Home Instead Senior Care website for other extremely informational articles, resources and videos including a downloadable Senior Fraud Protection Kit.

Why I’m Grateful For My Caregiver

TY CGThis is an amazing and inspirational video done by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Why I’m Grateful For My Caregiver.”  It brought such a smile to our face, and we know you’ll enjoy it too. You may not hear it as much as you should but you are appreciated! Thank you to all caregivers!

Guide to Preventing Falls: A Free Online Program

Are you a caregiver for a friend or family member who depends on your care and assistance to remain living in her or his own home? Are you a caregiver for a spouse or loved one who lives with you?senior walking

Pew Research Center (2013) reports the 39% of U.S. adults provide care for a loved one and many navigate care with the help of technology. Caregivers are reported to be “online health information consumers” who are more likely than non-caregivers to go online to look for health information.

B-Better: Caregiver Guide to Preventing Dependent’s Falls is a FREE online course available through Oregon State University’s – Professional and Continuing Education. The course is designed for anyone who provides in-home care to a more dependent adult; or anyone looking to learn how to help her or himself or older adults reduce their risk of slips, trips and unexpected falls at home.  The B-Better Online Module is divided into four sections that you can complete at your own pace. The course is available at: B Better: Caregiver Guide to Preventing Dependent’s Falls.

For additional information, please contact Deborah.John@oregonstate.edu. This project was funded by Clackamas County 2013 HEAL Community Grant award to OSU Extension Family & Community Health program in Clackamas County, a key partner in engAGE in Community for Age-Friendly Clackamas County.

Hearthstone WWII Veteran and Daughter take “Trip of a Lifetime” to Washington, D.C.

Blog Post by Jean Blackburn

I was privileged to interview Penny Holcomb (whom many of us know and love at Penny and DadHearthstone of Murrayhill) and her father, Murray Hale, about their inspiring Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., in September of this year. Their four-day trip — with 50 Oregon World War II Veterans and an equal number of guardians, plus team leaders and trip leaders — included two days touring the WWII and other war memorials in our nation’s capitol. The trip was organized by Honor Flight of Eastern Oregon and Honor Flight Portland Oregon, which are two regional hubs of the national, non-profit organization called Honor Flight Network.

Honor Flight Network and its regional hubs are dedicated to transporting as many United States military Veterans as possible to see “their memorials” in Washington, D.C. The trips are at no cost to the Veterans (guardians pay their own way). Currently these organizations are reaching out to WWII Veterans, most of whom are over the age of 90 and dying at the rate of more than 600 each day, but they also accept applications from terminally ill Veterans of other wars.

One of the remarkable aspects of Honor Flight trips is their emphasis on fulfilling the needs and requests of the Veterans. Trip leaders make it clear to guardians that these trips are for the Veterans, and that the Veterans are to be honored in every way. Guardians are instructed to “make sure your Veteran does not pay for anything” on the trip, and trained on measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of each Veteran.

According to Murray and Penny, every last detail of their Honor Flight trip was perfectly planned, organized, and fulfilled.  All accommodations – including the flights, hotel, food and ground transportation — were top-notch. After a full day of travel from Portland to D.C., the Honor Flight group of more than 100 settled in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia (which was, to quote Penny, “the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in”).

The next two days were spent traveling by tour bus to the numerous national war memorials. The days were full (wake up calls at 5 a.m. — which Murray said, “brought back memories of being in the military and experiencing reveille,” aka bugle calls). In addition to the WWII Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns, one of the most emotional destinations was the Iwo Jima Memorial commemorating the raising of the American flag at Suribachi, Japan. Three of the Honor Flight’s 50 Veterans had fought in The Battle of IwoJima VetsIwo Jima on February 19, 1944.

Murray informed me that, coincidentally, February 19, 1944, was also the day when his Army battalion had “their most perfect day of the war.”  On that day General MacArthur ordered 100 men from the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division to rescue 2,000 civilians held captive in an internment camp in Los Banos, Luzon (MacArthur had reason to believe they were to be killed at the end of the war). Murray is very proud of the men who parachuted in to rescue the 2,000 civilians — all of whom were saved but for one Filipino scout. Although he was in the hospital at the time of the rescue (Murray was awarded three Purple Hearts for his war injuries), he was extremely proud of what his battalion accomplished that day.

When I asked Murray to share his favorite parts of the trip, there was no hesitation: “The best part was to share this experience with my daughter. The connection we have because of this trip is so powerful.”

Murray went on to say that the trip was profoundly meaningful in other ways, as well, including the reception the 50 Veterans received from the public. He explained that everywhere they went adults and children alike expressed their gratitude for the Veterans’ service with cheers, applause, handshakes and salutes. He found this to be surprising, and deeply moving. Penny said the public reception affected her the same way. She recalled an instance when her dad was approached by a mother whose son was fighting in Afghanistan. The mother took Murray’s hand, thanking him for serving our country; Murray replied by thanking her for her son’s service. Both were choking back tears during the encounter.

Another highlight for Murray was meeting “the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Army,” 4-star General Ann Dunwoody, at the WWII Memorial. Fortunately Penny was able to capture a photo of their chance encounter.Lady Vet

Murray and Penny both agree that the Honor Flight program for military Veterans is a “big thing,” and that WWII Veterans need to take advantage of this opportunity. They have found many WWII Veterans who resist applying for various reasons — minimizing their war contributions, apprehensive due to physical limitations, anxious about taking a cross-country trip. They emphasized that the tour group had three nurses and a physician traveling with them, and that Veterans are always encouraged to use wheelchairs when they get off the bus. The organizers make sure there is plenty of food and water available, and take great care to ensure quick access to toilet facilities. They do everything possible to meet the specific needs of each Veteran.

Both Murray and Penny ended our conversation by saying, “It was the trip of a lifetime,” and urging all WWII Veterans to submit their applications to the Honor Flight organization. To learn more about the Honor Flight Network and its regional hubs, go to www.HonorFlight.org.  (Be sure to use the “org” suffix, as there are confusingly similar websites that do not represent the official Honor Flight Network.)

Be A Santa To A Senior

King City Regal Courier Article on Home Instead’s Holiday Giving Program – Barbara Sherman, November 28

Each year, the Home Instead Senior Care®  partners with local stores, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations in the community to deliver gifts to lonely and financially challenged seniors through the Be a Santa to a Senior® program. There are many seniors who would not receive gifts during the holiday season if it were not for this program. Volunteers and gift donations needed.BASTAS

This year we are partnering with The Meals on Wheels People in Tigard and in Forest Grove to deliver gifts to seniors in each community.

How it works:

  • Remove an ornament from the wreath (gift ideas are printed on each ornament)
  • Purchase the gift(s) listed.
  • Bring the ornament and gift back to participating store and give to store employee or place in the bin under the wreath

Home Instead Senior Care employees will then wrap the gifts and the Meals on Wheels drivers will deliver them the week of December 16th.

Read a story about how gift giving touched the lives of a senior from one Home Instead franchise

In 2006, Be a Santa to a Senior volunteers visited a local nursing facility and distributed gifts to a number of residents, including one 87-year-old woman whom we’ll call Mary. She was pleased to receive her gift and thanked us profusely, but it wasn’t until we returned to give Mary another gift in 2007 that we recognized the true value of Be a Santa to a Senior.

When we entered Mary’s room for our second visit, we noticed that the only card on her bulletin board was the Be a Santa to a Senior card from the previous year. As we spoke with her caregivers we found out that our Christmas card and gift were the only items she had received throughout the year. Mary re-read the card regularly to help keep that memory alive.

Please help us spread holiday cheer to lonely or financially-challenged seniors in our area through the Be a Santa to a Senior program.  In Forest Grove  the giving wreath is at Bi-Mart (3225 Pacific Ave. Forest Grove), in Tigard the giving wreath is at McCann’s Pharmacy (15685 Sw 116th Ave, Tigard)

7 Ways to Investigate Your Loved One’s Needs During a Holiday Visit

Blog post by Mike Brunt

The holidays are a fun time of year but they may be stressful too, especially if you’re visiting aging parents or relatives. This article offers very good advice on what to look for with your aging loved ones that may indicate they need additional help.caregivercouple

As you pile the gifts into the back of the car and check off any last-minute errands from your list before heading home for the holidays, you might also want to prepare to handle any changes you notice in your aging loved ones. Keep your eyes open for these seven common issues that can threaten a senior’s independence.

  1. Pain. Does your mother now pull up a stool by the sink to peel the potatoes? Does she wince when she bends down? Does she complain about a bad back? If you notice any red flags, try gently asking her, “How long has your back been hurting you?” Even if she tries to pretend she’s managing fine, consider helping her schedule a doctor’s appointment “just to be sure.”
  2. Memory. Does she have trouble recalling events from that morning? Has she told you the same story over and over? You may want to keep a list of concerns to bring up with her primary care physician or neurologist.
  3. Depression. If you see any hints of irritability, sadness or sleep difficulties, these could be signs of depression. Depression is common among seniors, and any related concerns should be checked out by a doctor or mental health care professional.
  4. Social Engagement. Ask your mother to tell you about her friends. Social seniors generally have a healthier and more optimistic outlook on life. If she doesn’t have a strong social network, look into community activities that she may enjoy or companionship services.
  5. Safety. If your mother has more difficulty walking, make sure she has a cane, walker or the proper support; remove throw rugs or other potential tripping hazards; and look into installing grab bars and no-slip strips where needed. If you’re worried about falls or other safety issues, look into getting a medical alert system or hiring a CAREGiverSM from the Home Instead Senior Care® network who can check up on her frequently.
  6. Housekeeping. As seniors experience declining health, they may have more trouble keeping up with the housework. If you notice the house looks more unkempt than usual, consider senior care services that include light housekeeping.
  7. Medication. Try to notice if your senior loved one is taking the appropriate pills at mealtimes or before bed and if she is keeping the pillbox organized. If she is not reliable with a medication schedule, you may want to look into home care services that provide medication reminders.

How to Address the Issues You Uncover

Even if you meet with some resistance when gently confronting a loved one about potential issues you may observe during your visit, it is in both your and your loved one’s best interest to find a solution that can help keep him or her safe and independent at home.

If you’re unsure about the best way to diplomatically discuss issues with your loved one, download a conversation starter guide.

For any physical or mental health concerns you may have, consulting your aging loved one’s physician might be the best thing to do. It’s better to address a concern early than wait until it becomes a health emergency.

If you get the sense that your loved one needs more assistance with tasks of daily living, look into local in-home care services. The Home Instead Senior Care network offers free care consultations that allow you and your family to sit down and discuss care options with a home care professional, without you having to pay for the consultation or committing to services.Get in touch with your local office to schedule your free consultation

10 Holiday Requests That Won’t Make Seniors’ Gift Lists

Blog post by Liz Fischer

Halloween’s over, Christmas merchandise is out, in a few days the music in stores will be Christmas, time to start making lists. What do I get for Mom, Grandma, Dad, Aunt Linda? I found this list on a Home Instead Senior Care website and it’s perfect.

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While material gifts could satisfy the desires of a senior love done, why  not choose a present Christmasthat is even more meaningful-a gift from the heart? Family caregivers and senior care professionals won’t likely find these requests on a senior’s wish list:

1. Take a senior shopping. Make it a special day by taking your older adult to a favorite store or create an online shopping experience he or she won’t forget.

2. Lend a hand. Carry on the holiday cooking traditions asking the senior to help where he or she can. Or ask people to bring their favorite dish.

3. Wrap and send packages. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge, so too can shipping gifts to loved ones afar. Why  not schedule a gift wrapping afternoon complete with hot chocolate, cookies and plenty of family stories?

4. Deck the halls. Make decorating a multigenerational activity by sending over the grand kids or great-grandchildren.

5. Send holiday greetings. The handwritten Christmas cards is one of the most popular traditions for seniors. Offer to spend an afternoon writing greetings.

6. Plan a fun event. Caroling is a fun activity for most any age. Why not get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or nursing home?

7. Celebrate the reason for the season. Be flexible and change traditions if necessary. For instance, attend an early Christmas Eve service, not midnight Mass.

8. Focus on others. Get the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal.

9. Stay connected. Help an older adult connect with loved ones far away with the latest technology such as Skype.

10. Give the gift of time. Sometimes all an older adult wants is companionship, whether it’s a few moments of the day or a driving tour to view holiday lights. If you are short of time, consider the assistance of a family friend or neighbor, or help of a Home Instead CAREGiver.

This list gave me some good ideas for my parents, it helped reduce my stress of finding the perfect gift and the ideas “are easy on the pocketbook” (an old phrase my Grandma often used). Which ideas are you going to use?

 

Ten Tips for Success with People with Dementia

Blog post by Christy Turner, Golden Lifecare Solutions, LLCchristy-turner

Christy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) and Dementia Care Unit Manager (CDCM). She specializes in effective non-pharmalogical approaches to dementia care and is passionate about helping families create moments of joy in their caregiving journey. She has eleven years experience working with elders and their families. Christy offers these tips for success when with people who have Dementia:

  1. Offer positive reinforcement.  Encourage, reassure, and come to the rescue!
  2. Treat pain.  People with dementia are not always able to accurately report pain or where it hurts, but they are in high mileage bodies.  Give prescribed medications
  3. Give ample time to complete tasks.  Use concrete language, task segment to 1-2 steps at a time, use visual and non-verbal cues, keep it simple, and always allow extra time
  4. Don’t create dependence.  Give ample time to complete tasks, rather than falling into the trap of doing it for him/her because it’s quicker that way.  Calmly talk the person through the task while giving positive feedback and praise
  5. Create success.  Keep it simple, use visual and non-verbal cues, be positive, and allow ample time for task completion
  6. Be mindful of the environment you create.  Keep the environment calm, low-key, and stay positive.  People may not understand what you say, but they always understand how you make them feel.  That includes your body language and tone of voice.
  7. Be an example.  If you want the person to do a task or engage in an activity, show him/her what to do by starting the task yourself.  Use visual cues, such as starting to fold the laundry yourself
  8. DO NOT ARGUE.  EVER.  We always, always, always step into the person’s reality; we never try to drag him/her into our reality.  Be in the moment together
  9. Socialization is important.  Help the person make a connection with others by making introductions.  Set the person up for success
  10. How important is it?  Remember, a dementia-related behavior is only an attempt to communicate.  What you see as distressful may not be for the person with dementia.  Be sure to know the difference.

Please visit the Golden Lifecare Solutions website for more information on how Christy can help you through the challenges of making decisions about care, finances, living arrangements, driving, and more when dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Getting to the Root of Dental Problems

Blog post by Mike Brunt

This is an interesting article on dental problems as they relate to overall health. It was in the Senior Spirit from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors (CSA)
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If you thought the worst problem with ignoring your teeth might be a cavity down the road, you should think again. As we get older, poor dental health can lead to a host of serious problems.teeth

Researchers have found that issues with the teeth, gums and tongue can lead to many diseases in the rest of the body, including heart or liver disease, eating disorders, diet deficiencies, anemia, diabetes, arthritis, HIV, osteoporosis and even some autoimmune diseases.

For example, recent studies show a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. One study suggests that people with severe periodontal (gum) disease face double the risk of fatal heart disease, and other studies have found a link with higher rates of stroke. In certain circumstances, a tooth infection has the potential to cause bacterial endocarditis—an infection of the heart’s inner lining or the heart valves. Bacteria in the bloodstream can stick to the heart’s valves or damaged tissue and damage or even destroy the heart valves (“Senior Dental Problems and Taking Care of Elderly,” April 4, 2013, A Place for Mom).

Dental ResourcesDental schools: These can be a good source of quality, reduced-cost dental treatment. For a complete list of schools, visit the American Dental Association. To locate dental hygiene schools, go to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association website.Health centers: The Bureau of Primary Health Care, a service of the Health Resources and Services Administration, supports federally funded community health centers across the country that provide free or reduced-cost health services, including dental care. To obtain a list of centers in your area, call toll-free at 1-888-Ask-HRSA (1-888-275-4772) or visithttp://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.Medicaid: Most states provide limited emergency dental services for adults, while some offer comprehensive services. Visit the website or call 1-877-267-2323.Local resources: Programs in your area may offer free or reduced-cost dental care. Call your local or state health department to learn more about their financial assistance programs. In many states, you can also call 211 to find services in your area.United Way: The nonprofit may be able to direct you to free or reduced-cost dental services in your community.Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

 

“General health can affect oral health and oral health can affect general health,” says William Bailey, U.S. Public Health Service chief dental officer and acting director at Division of Oral Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“Older Adults and Oral Health: Inspiring Community-Based Partnerships for Healthy Mouths,” Cross-Federal Initiative: Expanding Access for Older Adults, May 15, 2013 webinar, Administration on Aging).

For example, “People who have significant tooth loss may either limit their intake of food or choose other types of food, so tooth loss has been associated with both weight loss and obesity,” he says. ”We also know that extensive and complete tooth loss may restrict social contact, inhibit intimacy and that tooth loss can affect speech which in turn limits social interaction and detracts from physical appearance and lowers self-esteem.”

Dental Changes to Expect from Aging

Several factors associated with aging can increase the risk for tooth decay. For example, medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, beta blockers and antihistamines increase the likelihood of dry mouth, which reduces saliva. Without saliva, mouth and gums aren’t lubricated, which promotes bacterial growth and prevents minerals such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride from remineralizing the surface of the tooth when decay begins.

As we age, our mouth’s soft tissues (gums and cheeks) lose their ability to stretch, and muscles become soft and weak. Further, with less saliva, chewing becomes more difficult, and your mouth becomes more easily irritated and heals more slowly than when you were younger.

Other changes are associated with aging (from “Basic Dental Health for Older Adults,” University of Missouri Extension):

Tooth decay: The rate of decay can increase as you age, especially if the amount of saliva is reduced. In older adults, tooth decay appears most frequently at the gum level. When exposed, the root portion of a tooth is especially subject to decay. Gumline or root decay is difficult to restore with fillings, because decay often recurs around this type of filling soon after it is placed.

Periodontal disease: Generally found in varying degrees in older adults, this disease becomes more destructive if not treated. In the elderly, periodontal disease is a primary cause of tooth loss. Watch for red or swollen gums that bleed with the slightest irritation. Pockets often develop between teeth and gums and can pack or trap food debris.

Brittleness: As we age, our bodies supply less blood and nerve tissue to teeth, causing tooth pulp to gradually shrink and teeth to become more brittle and susceptible to chips or breaks.

Teeth wear: Because of the grinding action of chewing, tooth enamel becomes thinner. In severe cases, the hard enamel covering completely wears away, exposing a softer part of the tooth (dentin), which acidic oral fluids can dissolve. Teeth with only a fragile enamel shell are easily chipped or broken.

Drug therapy: Medications used for diseases that can affect older adults, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and Parkinson’s disease, often have side effects that decrease the amount of saliva.

What You Can Do

The best way to prevent tooth problems is to do what our dentists (and parents) always told us: brush your teeth and floss regularly. Getting rid of food debris, plaque (a white residue adhering to the teeth) or calculus (solidified plaque) decreases the rate of tooth decay and gum disease.

The University of Missouri Extension recommends a medium soft brush and dental paste. For those incapable of gripping the handle, a rubber strap can be fastened to fit snugly around the hand. Brush teeth, gums and tongue at least once a day. Other steps to take include:

Rinsing: Decreased saliva means food particles adhere more easily to the teeth and gums. To resolve, you can rinse with warm water to dislodge any particles. If you use mouthwash, be aware that it can irritate dry tissue because of its high alcohol content. If used, dilute it with water.

Wiping with gauze: If you’re unable to brush or rinse because of physical issues, you can wipe your teeth and gums with a wet piece of gauze to remove debris.

Dental aids: For seniors with limited movement, the larger handles of electrical tooth brushes can be held more easily than non-electrical, and the mechanical movement of the brush aids movement. Also, water irrigators can be useful in removing particles from between teeth. Interdental cleaners, handles with small changeable brushes, can clean between teeth, which is especially helpful when the gums have receded, creating large spaces between the teeth.

Oral lubricants. Glycerin, flavored with a few drops of lemon, can provide a lubricating effect to help treat problems created by dry mouth. Several prescription medications can stimulate saliva production or act as a saliva substitute.

Good News about Dentures

In the future, fewer seniors are going to need dentures because today’s older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer. According to a recent survey by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the rate of toothlessness in individuals aged 55 to 64 has dropped 60 percent since 1960. This is due to scientific developments as well as better oral hygiene practices (“Frequently Asked Questions About Senior Dental Care,” WebMD).

If you do need dentures, an alternative is dental implants, which replace tooth roots and provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that match your natural teeth.

Paying for Dental Care

The bad news for seniors is that Medicare doesn’t pay for routine dental care, so many older adults don’t get check-ups that help identify problems before they become serious.

“We know that older adults have more difficulty in assessing effective interventions to prevent and control diseases than younger adults, and one of those barriers is lack of insurance,” says Bailey of the U.S. Public Health Service. “For persons aged 75 and older, only about 14 percent of costs are covered by private insurance and . . . we know that it’s harder and harder for some older adults to come up with the resources they need. So some choose to forego treatment or choose lower-cost treatment options such as tooth extraction rather than a root canal and a crown.”

If you are a senior on a limited or fixed income and can’t afford regular dental care, many dentists offer their services at reduced fees through dental society-sponsored assistance programs. Other resources are available (see sidebar).

Seniors Face Challenges in Finding Work

Blog post by Mike Brunt
I am a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and receive a monthly newsletter that always has articles I think you’ll find interesting. This one is for Seniors who are looking for jobs. The article offers some really good tips and resources for even more information. If you’re interested in being a CAREGiver or know somebody who is, Home Instead Senior Care is always looking for people. Visit our website at www.makeadifferenceforseniors.com for more information.
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Not only has the 2008 recession put a dent in a lot of retirement accounts but people are living longer, so it makes financial sense to keep working as long as you can, either full-time or part-time.Working

In fact, AARP estimates that more than 3 million workers age 50-plus are looking for full-time employment. Unfortunately, there’s also a rise in reports of discrimination against older adults in the workplace.

After the website Ask.com requested comments about seniors’ job search experience, it was flooded with stories about repeated rejections. One senior wrote:

I had never experienced “age discrimination” until I had to go job hunting a year ago. I heard comments from “young interviewers,” such as “we are not looking for a mother figure in the office”; “well, you must have seen just about everything!”; “this position requires someone that can keep up in a very fast paced environment.” I was 58 at the time, have worked for over 20 years. I don’t have gray hair and have been told I look very young for my age!

But don’t give up. You might need to learn some new social media tricks, but you can also rely on some traditional methods of persuasion, such as your maturity (see sidebar).

Why Employers Should Hire SeniorsWhile older adults might not have all the technical skills that younger workers do, they have attributes that will always be in demand. Here’s a few:Track record: Older adults have decades of work experience, so employers know what they’re getting, compared to a younger person whose experience is unknown.Flexibility: Without young families to take care of, seniors can schedule their work more easily.Maturity: Most seniors aren’t trying to “get ahead” by playing games or attempting to impress their friends; they just want a good livelihood. They’re more willing to help others because they don’t have to prove their egos, and they have the confidence to share ideas.Hard workers: Most older adults are from a generation that grew up learning the value of money and work.

Conscientious: Seniors were taught at home and school to be punctual and honest.

Focused: Older adults grew up before the era of texting and other instant forms of gratification, so they are more patient and able to take time to solve problems.

Communication: Because seniors weren’t raised on Facebook and texting, many are more skilled at face-to-face communication.

Cost less: Many seniors may be on Medicare or on spouses’ health insurance plans, so they cost an employer less. According to AARP, by retaining older workers, some employers save more than half of an employee’s annual salary in retraining costs.

Less absenteeism: Experienced workers have been found to have fewer absences from work than their younger counterparts.

Commitment: According to an AARP study, health care workers over the age of 55 had the highest level of employee engagement, which greatly correlates with employer loyalty, performing well with little supervision and motivation to do their very best.

 

How to Prepare for the Search

When looking for work, experts recommend de-emphasizing your age. For example, don’t stress early work experiences, either on your resume or to the job interviewer. Include jobs on your resume that go back only 15 years for a managerial job, 10 years for a technical job and five years for a high-tech job. If you want to list positions older than that, don’t include dates. Also, on your resume, leave off high school and college graduation dates. In your cover letter, avoid using “experienced” or “seasoned.” Instead, emphasize your skills and flexibility.

Target your cover letter and resume to specifically highlight the relevant experience for the job you are applying for. You may want to use a “functional resume,” which cites your accomplishments first, rather than a chronological resume, which outlines your experience in date order.

Emphasize that you’re up-to-date with current technology by listing the latest programs you’ve worked with. To show prospective employers you’re current with social networking, include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume.

If the job posting requests your salary requirements, let your prospective employer know that you’re flexible. Avoid the appearance of being overqualified and/or overpriced.

Job Help for Seniors

Several sources offer assistance for older adults looking for work.

One is the AARP Foundation WorkSearch tool found at http://www.foundation.aarp.org/senior-employment.php. WorkSearch Information Network is an online employment guide that covers the job search process from start to finish. It helps you set goals and organize your job search activities, find out which job is best for you, learn how the job search process can maximize chances for finding employment, determine what employers are looking for and tap into social media and connect with other job seekers.

In a new program, AARP Foundation is partnering with local workforce service providers in Denver and Phoenix initially. Back to Work 50+, connects employers and training providers with unemployed or underemployed workers age 50 and over to create a pool of trained, prescreened, qualified workers available for employment. The program focuses on a specific set of difficult-to-fill and in-demand jobs, initially within the health care sector, using input from local employers about workforce needs to provide information and coaching to older workers seeking jobs. A secondary motive is to reduce employment barriers and provide job seekers access to skill-building opportunities.

For low-income job seekers age 55 or over, the U.S. Department of Labor offers classes through itsSenior Community Service Employment Program . Participants in the part-time employment program work at community and government agencies and are paid the federal or state minimum wage rate, whichever is higher. They may also receive training and use their participation as a bridge to other employment positions not supported with federal funds.

One website, RetirementJobs.com, offers an “Age Friendly Employer Certification” program, where the companies listed have met “best practice” standards such as management style, flexible scheduling and health care benefits that tend to be senior-friendly. Companies that qualify include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, as well as retailers like Starbucks and Target. Job websites specifically targeted toward post-retirement job seekers are www.retireeworkforce.comwww.SeniorJobBank.org, andwww.workforce50.com.

Some of the fastest-growing business sectors and positions are nursing, retail sales, home health aides, office clerks, food service, customer service and truck driving, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While you may have to take classes to become certified, it may be worth it to more easily find work.

Networking Your Way to a Job

Reportedly, at least 60 percent of jobs are found by networking, either through friends, former colleagues or social media. Your career network should include anyone who can assist you with a job search or career move. It can contain past and present co-workers, bosses, friends with similar interests, colleagues from business associations, alumni from your university or acquaintances you have met via online networking services.

You can develop contacts through local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce or associations in your field, which often list their meetings or events online. If you are a college graduate, the career services office at your alma mater, as well as its career advisor network of alumni contacts, can be invaluable.

Employers are increasingly using social networking sites to attract and recruit candidates and to accept applications for employment. LinkedIn, Facebook and other online networking websites can connect you with other networkers at specific companies, with college affiliations or with opportunities in a certain geographic area. In fact, surveys report that almost 90 percent of companies are currently recruiting through social media.

If you don’t have an online presence, you will be at a disadvantage in this competitive job market. Strong social media participation can boost your candidacy and help ensure that recruiters and hiring managers will find you. An article in the June 2013 AARP Bulletin says many employers expect prospective employees to have a Facebook profile, website or blog (or both) and be Tweeting. “If you have no digital footprint, you’re likely to get a pass,” says Jane Bryant Quinn (“Looking for a Job? Go Social”).

The most widely used social media networking platform for professionals is LinkedIn. Individuals and companies use LinkedIn for networking, job searching, hiring, company research and connecting with affiliates, including alumni, industry and various other business-related groups.

One of the most important LinkedIn components is your profile, which is how people locate you. The more complete your LinkedIn description, the better your chances of being found and contacted. Use your LinkedIn profile like a resume, and check out LinkedIn company profiles to find more information about a company you’re interested in. You’ll be able to see connections at the company, new hires, promotions, posted jobs, and related organizations.

Sources

“How to Get Started With Social Networking,” about.com
“How to Use LinkedIn,” about.com
“Job Search and Career Networking Tips,” about.com
“Successful Job Search Networking,” about.com
“How to Find Job Search Help,” about.com
“The Grey Ceiling: How Old is Too Old?” about.com
“Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers,” about.com

Making the Difficult Conversation Easier

Blog post by Mike Brunt

It’s time for “the conversation”, something we all dread. This article provides some good information on how best to approach that difficult conversation. Our Home Instead website also has some very good articles, videos and other resources to help you.caregivercouple

Martin’s driving was getting more erratic and dangerous. His wife, Gwen, 81, was in the car when Martin, 83, failed to see pedestrians crossing the street until she yelled at the last minute. It was clearly time to take his car keys away, but Gwen wasn’t sure how to do that without causing Martin distress.

Whether baby boomers need to talk to their parents about assisted living, parents need to talk to their children about end-of-life issues or a wife needs to talk to her husband about not driving anymore, these conversations can be difficult. Most people avoid them as long as they can, at which point it’s sometimes too late to handle the issue easily.

Those in the caring field who have been through this offer ways to best approach these delicate but serious discussions.

 

Techniques to Smooth the DiscussionPlan ahead: Schedule a time and place that works for all to be focused and not distracted.Validate others’ feelings: When feelings are acknowledged, the person starts to calm down, because they feel they’re being understood.“Normalizing”: Letting the other person know they’re not the only one going through these emotions or this experience make people feel safe and takes the focus off an individual.Be open: Explain your concerns specifically and clearly. Share your own feelings.Think before responding: Don’t speak when you’re angry or upset. Silence can often be effective.Ask for advice: Asking questions rather than telling people what to do is always a better way to start conversations.

Use “I” statements: Explain how you feel rather than what you see as wrong with the situation.

Working with Denial

In confronting difficult situations, most people first encounter denial: From children it might be that their parents are never going to become incapable of taking care of themselves; from aging adults it might be, “my driving is not that bad; I know what I’m doing” or from the husband it might be that his wife can stay at home rather than go into assisted living.

Loved ones don’t want to see that the situation or person has changed, and a lot of emotions are attached to the way things were. “Everyone wants to go back to the way it was,” says Viki Kind, a clinical bioethicist, medical educator and hospice volunteer (“Facilitating Difficult Conversations: Getting Through the Barriers”).

While denial might work in the short term, in the long term, it can cause problems. It could mean that adult children won’t know how to handle their parents’ finances when they’re unable to or that a bad driver could cause an accident or worse. Providing adult children with end-of-life wishes can make the inevitable process easier, not more difficult, in the long term. Denial can also occur when someone has the wrong or not enough information. Therefore, it’s important to make sure both parties have all the facts.

When confronting someone about big changes, it’s important to let them emotionally process the new information. It might take time and patience. Kind suggests not rushing the other person to make a decision. Seniors, especially, might want to sit and ponder the question, and see how the issue affects their life and future. You can also ask if there is a better time to talk about the topic.

The Real Issue

We need to truly listen, Kind says, to hear what someone is really saying and what the real issue is behind the fears and resistance. The key is to be present and feel the other person’s suffering. “Compassion is the ability to feel your pain in my heart.”

For instance, someone might not want a caregiver because they don’t want to lose their privacy, they think they can’t afford it or they worry their house is a mess. In another example, perhaps the real reason an older adult is resisting using a walker is because it makes them feel old and awkward. “Once you explore the real issue, the better chance of solving it,” Kind says.

Younger adults might not realize that their parents (or loved ones) want to have control over their lives, Kind says. Trying to take away that control—by taking away their car keys or moving them from their homes—will likely only bring resistance. It’s best to give that person some authority.

Dealing With Control

David Solie, a geriatric psychologist, CEO and medical director of a life insurance brokerage corporation, wanted to move his mother to assisted living, because he felt she would be safer there, but she resisted. At some point, he started seeing the situation through her eyes:

“In 20 years of working with seniors, I’ve come to know how deep the need for control is in that age group, how little they ultimately wind up with and how closely control is tied to dignity and hope, not hope that you’re going to be young again, but hope that you’re going to get some good days. . . .

“That’s what I found out when I sat down in my mother’s old, worn-out La-Z-Boy with the tuner with the larger buttons and the Collier’s magazine from 1946. I realized that in a world of great instability—her friends had passed, my dad was gone, her neighbors were gone—this house was her anchor. Looking at that, I felt it was profound hubris on my part to be all-knowing and righteous about where she should live” (“Talking With David Solie: Caregiving Mistakes and Lessons Learned,” caring.com).

In the end, Solie, author of How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap With Our Elders, honored his mother’s request until she had a massive stroke and had to go into skilled nursing for the last ten months of her life.

Failure to Communicate

“Parents and kids don’t talk the way they need to talk,” says Donna Quinn Robbins, author of Moving Mom and Dad! Why, Where, How, and When to Help Your Parents Relocate. “The kids don’t really understand how their parents are feeling, what they’re going through or what they want because they’re afraid to ask—or if they ask, they don’t get an answer. The parents don’t want to be a burden, they don’t want to tell their kids what’s really going on and they don’t want to let them know they’re sliding, because then they’re afraid the kids are going to want to do something about it” (“Talking With Donna Quinn Robbins: How to Discuss Moving With Your Parents,” caring.com ).

Robbins, who has worked with seniors for 20 years as the owner of Ultimate Moves, a relocation and transition service, has seen what happens when different generations don’t communicate. One adult son, a doctor, told his parents if they didn’t move closer to him, he wouldn’t be able to take care of them. When the parents reluctantly left their retirement home in Florida, leaving most of their possessions behind, they found that their son had only once a month to see them. Within a year, both parents died.

“When people bring their parents from a distant place to where they live, I see catastrophes all the time because they haven’t talked about the expectations they have—the children’s or the parents’. . . . The expectations have to be discussed up front because, otherwise, the parents have moved from their home, their friends, their whole lifestyle, to a place where they don’t know anybody.”

Confirming that view is Bruce Nemovitz, senior real estate specialist and Certified Senior Advisor. His advice to adult children: “Learn what are their [seniors’] greatest fears and talk about them. Understand the power of memories and their feelings of deep loss and sadness as they think of giving up their home. For each senior, moving elicits a different set of issues both mentally and physically.” His advice to seniors: “You cannot expect [your children] to truly understand what you are experiencing as it is new to you and to them also. They cannot feel the pain of a loss of spouse or the fears of moving to a completely new environment after so many years in their familiar surroundings. Your kids will someday have to face the same issues, so know that they hold their own set of emotions, fears and concerns” (“Having Difficult Conversations,” June 04, 2013, Laureate Group).

Beyond the bigger issues of denial and control, experts offer tips for making the difficult conversation a lot easier (see sidebar).

Don’t forget to visit the Home Instead website for more information, videos and resources regarding Family Communication Issues.