Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

Guest Blog: Ways to prevent and treat depression in older adults

 Older adults are at high risk of developing depression. As we age, the brain becomes less active and we often begin to experience mild memory losses. Even though many seniors choose to get treatment as soon as they realize their mental health begins to decline, they don’t want to become pariahs to their families. As a consequence, they refuse to get further help and end up in depression. How can we help our older parents overcome depression when they refuse to accept our assistance?

Depression – a real health concern we shouldn’t leave unattended

Depression is a proven health concern that manifests differently from individual to individual. The symptoms are real, and if they’re not treat in advance, the condition may lead to even greater health issues, including sleep deprivation, lack of interest in performing daily activities, isolation, lack of appetite, and more.

Sadly, too many seniors can’t or won’t want to admit that they feel depressed. They refuse to get help because they don’t want to be a burden to their loved ones. As their parent, you have to be more aware of the signs, so that you can help them get back on their feet. Depression shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness. Everyone can become depressed at any age, and regardless of any accomplishments of background.

Have a chat with your parents and talk about their feelings

Stress or bereavement are not the sole cause of depression in older adults. If you’ve noticed that your loved ones are not eating anymore or that they’ve lost interest in performing daily activities that once made them feel good, then they might be depressed. It’s very important to talk to your parents about their feelings.

Have a friendly conversation and ask them if they’re doing ok. Older adults become depressed when their health is in jeopardy; or when they begin losing their friends due to old age. If you can’t afford to hire a specialized caregiver, you can be their caregiver. All you have to do is listen to what they have to say. Be there to comfort them and find a way to lift their spirit by doing activities together.

The link between sadness and depression

There’s a very tight connection between sadness and depression. However many older adults claims they’re not sad, making you believe they’re not depressed. But deep down something’s off. Their depression might kick in and develop in a totally different way. Pay close attention to the signs, and if you notice that mom doesn’t talk as much or doesn’t want to do anything, then she might be depressed.

In older adults, depression can be observed physically. Your parent may suffer from insomnia, acute arthritis, lack of appetite, or lack of energy. Migraines and headaches can also be a predominant symptom. As we age, we begin losing some of the people we care most about. Loss is excruciating, and older seniors don’t know how to cope with it. Many grieve differently, and even though it’s normal, some adults end up depressed.

It’s tough to make the difference between depression and grief because oftentimes the symptoms are very similar. Nonetheless, there are ways to tell them apart. Grief involves a wealth of emotions; some are good, others are not so good. Sometimes, the person grieving a loved one may experience feelings of joy and happiness. When you’re depressed, positive feelings are completely eradicated, and you feel totally empty.

Helping a loved one cope with depression

Beating depression is hard, but not impossible. It demands a lot of hard work and determination. Support matters the most, they key often being to be there for your aging parent and engage in activities that make them feel positive and upbeat. Note that digital communication doesn’t help; talking to your mom every week over the phone is not enough to raise her spirit. You have to do it in person.

Make time to visit every week. Bring the kids over, go out for coffee, and find a way to have a good time and remember the good times. Residential care may not be the first thing that comes to mind when aiming to overcome depression. But it might be a good idea because it allows older adults to make new friendships and build relationships.

 

 

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By |2019-08-13T15:13:25-05:00August 14th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Ways to prevent and treat depression in older adults

Guest Blog: Inexpensive, Fun Activities For Seniors

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Whether you’ve recently retired, are planning to retire soon or are facing an unknown future where retirement seems virtually impossible, when you’re living on a fixed or tight income, you’re always looking for ways to save money. Plus, since one of the first areas to get cut when the budget is tight is entertainment, you may wonder how can you still have fun, without spending a fortune. To answer that question, here’s a list of inexpensive activities that could be perfect for you!

Attend Free Events. From free nights at the museum to local art gallery showings in town, keep your radar on for free activities in the area that you might enjoy. Most cities will host free lectures, concerts, movie nights and other activities from time to time.

Start a Club or Discussion Group.

    1. Start a book club, movie group or discussion group with a handful of friends, hosted either at your home or rotating homes month to month. Getting together will cost little more than making some snacks — and it will still be a fun night for everyone.

Take Advantage of Community Centers and Libraries. Rent movies or check out books at the library, and go for walks at the local community center track. Within your specific city or town, find what other amenities are available to you and decide to make the most of them, either on your own or with a friend.

Volunteer in the Community. Volunteering not only makes you feel good about helping others, but it also connects you with people in the community and often qualifies you for some cool, cash-saving perks. Whether it’s free food when you’re volunteering at the local school district or a place to socialize when you’re serving as a greeter at the hospital, volunteering helps you reach outside yourself and have fun in the process.

Host Potlucks. Rather than always going out to eat with friends, try hosting potlucks where everyone brings a dish to pass. You’ll only need to make one dish, still have the fun of socializing with friends or loved ones, and save a bundle in the process.

Enjoy the Outdoors. Go to the park, take walks on trails at the forest preserve, plan a picnic or watch a local Little League game. Getting outside is not only good for your spirits, it’s usually inexpensive too!

Mark Westerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for CareOne, Inc., a provider of debt relief services nationwide.

By |2019-08-13T15:13:10-05:00August 13th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: Inexpensive, Fun Activities For Seniors

5 Pieces of Technology Seniors Need

Seniors are using technological gadgets today more than ever according to a 2012 research. However, seniors have a long way ahead before they are tech savvy. Good technology can keep your senior loved ones engaged, connected and active both mentally and physically. Again, technology enhances safety for seniors living at home. Check out these five pieces of technology.

1. Tablets, iPads and Smartphones

Your senior loved one needs to have either or all of these devices. They are simple devices really that you may not even realize are needed. Tablets are iPads can be installed with games and apps that promote the mental fitness of your older parent. Seniors can also view photos, learn languages, listen to music and stay connected with people.

2. Medical alert systems

Medical alert systems are a must-have for all seniors. They are designed as simple smartwatches or bracelets and others are like a key fob that seniors hang around their neck. These systems help you monitor the location of loved ones at all times, it gives them calendar notifications and reminders, detect falls and some even have a panic/help button. Because the systems integrate with your smartphone, you have access to your senior loved ones as long as you have your smartphone.

3. Wireless Internet

Does your senior loved on use the internet? If they do, they will need wireless internet more. Even when a senior does not use the internet, most of the smart devices you install at home do; smart sensors, smart thermostats, smart home monitoring and surveillance systems and even the smartphones use internet. Today, most nursing homes are connected to the internet.

4. Smart Assistive Devices

Assistive technology help seniors stay independent at home and also stay safe. You do not have to get them Amazon’s Alexa but you can have other smart devices to help seniors with daily tasks at home. Besides the obvious technologies like home monitoring and GPS, you can install stove shut-off systems, photo-enhanced phone dialers, smart LED lights, and medication dispensing appliances. These systems come in handy when seniors have cognitive impairment.

5. Fitness Bands

Fitness bands have advanced greatly offering more than just activity stats. Bands such as FitBit, will monitor levels of activity throughout the day, heart rate and even warn when senior vitals are not normal. This way, it is easier to detect when seniors are suffering from a disease and seek medical help. Seeing that these bands can even detect blood sugar, and they are light enough to be worn 24/7, they are great for all seniors.

By |2019-08-09T20:34:37-05:00August 11th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on 5 Pieces of Technology Seniors Need

How To Make Aging In Place As Easy As Possible

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Many seniors lead active lives after retirement, and while some individuals have physical or mental limitations that prevent them from doing so, most want to remain in their own home for as long as they can. When faced with the choice of moving toward assisted living or staying comfortable in the house they have lived in for years, there’s no question of which is the more appealing option. Yet for every senior, safety and comfort are two of the most important concerns when considering aging in place.

 

It can be difficult to think of all the things one must take into consideration when aging in place; not only does the home need to be assessed for hazards, it’s also important to think of how you will handle daily life should you choose to live alone. Think ahead and consider the changes you might go through in the next few years; will it be a problem to climb stairs? Take care of the garden or lawn? If so, there are things you can do to combat the issues, but it’s best to plan ahead.

Here are some of the best tips for aging in place safely.

Communication

It’s imperative to have a good communication system with friends or family members. If you have a cell phone, make sure to program the phone numbers of all the important people in your life so they will be easily accessible. Landlines should have a list of important numbers beside them, in large print. It’s also a good idea to install a phone in the bedroom and/or bathroom, in case of emergency.

Safety

If you have throw rugs in your home, consider discarding them or checking to make sure the corners don’t turn up to create trip hazards. They also need to have non-slip backs. Living areas and stairwells should be well-lit, and chairs and toilets need to be at a good height for getting up without risk of a fall. The bathtub should have a non-slip mat and a grab rail or shower seat.

It’s also a good idea to wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes or slippers; this can prevent falls or other injury. Clear all walkways of clutter or furniture that could trip you up.

The reality is that your home may just not be a good fit for aging in place safely, particularly if you have any disabilities. Don’t be afraid to consider the option of moving. You can still buy a home to live in rather than going to an assisted living facility.

Accessorize

Think about the things you might need to assist you in daily activities, such as a long-handled shoehorn, a walker, a rubber-soled cane, and medication. It’s a good idea to keep these things organized, in reach, and in good working order.

Get some help

When it comes to living alone, from time to time you may need some help. Enlist a capable family member or friend to assist you in financial planning, cleaning, lawn work, or traveling if you aren’t comfortable driving yourself. You might also consider getting a service animal; they can be extremely helpful to seniors in daily activities and can provide comfort, company, and stress relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By |2019-08-04T15:03:02-05:00August 9th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on How To Make Aging In Place As Easy As Possible

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend

A Profile of Older Americans (2012) revealed that over 480,000 grandparents had primary parenting responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.  AARP cited that over 2.5 million grandparents are helping with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren, and 7.8 million children live in homes owned by their grandparents. These statistics represent a growing trend in American culture.

I have several friends who have raised or are raising their grandchildren in their own home. Some have formally adopted their grandchildren. Others share parenting responsibilities with one or both parents. All of them share the common feeling that this is a blessing, not a burden, but that raising grandchildren in later life does have its challenges.

Whatever the circumstances that brought grandchildren into the home of their grandparents to be raised, it can come as a shock to the older adults who find themselves in this situation.

Here are some beginning considerations to raising your grandchildren in your own home.

Impact of aging

Older adults who are assuming primary responsibility for children should “cut themselves some slack”. Don’t feel that you have to do everything as if you were a first-time parent in your 20’s. Remember that you may be parenting, but your body knows that you are still a grandparent. You may have to limit the children’s activities because keeping up with the driving and multiple schedules is too difficult. The good news is that many grandparents in this situation are retired, so both Grandma and Grandpa can help with the kids. This teamwork might not have been possible with your own children because one or both of you were working, but now you can share the duties such as driving kids to school or sports practices, helping with homework, and taking them to doctor appointments. If the children are school age, allow yourself extra time to rest and relax during the day so that after school you have the energy required for these new-again activities with the grandkids. If needed, enlist the help of other family members or friends to help by giving you a break on occasion.  Keep in mind that maintaining your own health is especially important if you have young ones depending on you.

Expenses and Education

Many older adults are on a fixed income and may not have planned to care for grandchildren. Your financial plan for retirement might need an overhaul with additional family members in the household. Several organizations have worked cooperatively to compile resources for grandparents in this situation. National and state fact sheets have been developed to link grandparents with key resources in their area. You can find out about resources available to help you at http://www.aarp.org/relationships/friends-family/grandfacts-sheets/ .These helpful fact sheets list local programs, public benefits, key state laws, and contact information for national resources. There may be funding or tax breaks to help with living or educational expenses.

Records and immunizations

It’s important to keep important documents together in one safe place. This includes birth certificates, legal papers, report cards, baptismal papers etc… Keeping a log or journal of important events is also a good strategy, especially when caring for multiple children. There are a number of immunizations for children today that were not available or required when you parented your own children. Immunizations are often free at your county health department, but can be very expensive at the doctor’s office. The health department can tell you what your child needs and when, and will help you by providing an immunization record that will need to be kept up for school. The CDC has a helpful chart of recommended immunizations for birth to 6 years that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf  A summary of vaccinations for birth to age 18 can be found at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2010.pdf

Enjoy your Grand Family

Despite the obvious challenges of raising grandchildren in your older years, most grandparents describe the many joys that come with this new adventure. Grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren, and when sharing a home together, that bond can be strengthened. Grandparents can share the wisdom of their experience with this younger generation and have the opportunity to shape their lives for the better. If you are new to this second round of parenting, AARP offers a helpful guide with tips to GrandFamilies, as they call them. These can be found at Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend

 

 

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By |2019-08-04T15:02:43-05:00August 8th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Growing Trend