The way things are going, 2020 is going to give us the most miserable peacetime holiday season we’ve ever seen.
This is most especially true of our senior loved ones, who have found themselves becoming increasingly isolated from their families because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With adults 65 years old accounting for eight of every ten COVID-19 deaths in the United States, it’s normal for us to take every precaution to keep the seniors in our family safe.
The problem is, isolating our elderly family member does not contribute to a healthy senior lifestyle, as it could increase their risk of suffering cardiovascular and mental health issues, among other things.
However, the country is slowly reopening and easing up a bit on COVID-19-related restrictions. Consequently, many American families are now planning family get-togethers for the holidays, which should help break our seniors free from isolation.
If you belong to one of those families and want to keep everyone, especially the seniors, safe, here are some tips that will help you do just that.
Refrain From Kissing or Hugging
It’s tempting to give our seniors kisses and hugs as soon as we see them during the holidays, but you won’t be doing them a favor if you do so.
Social distancing protocols should still be in place, even when you’re at a family gathering for the holidays. No matter how much you miss your parents or grandparents, keeping them safe is a priority, and that means no close physical contact.
Keep Face Masks On
Even if everyone at the gathering is family, face masks should be worn properly at all times to reduce the risk of coronavirus making its way to your senior loved one.
For good measure, have the seniors in the family wear a face shield the entire time, if possible.
Always Wash or Sanitize Hands
Everyone at your holiday gatherings must wash their hands frequently. It would also be great if they all have portable hand sanitizers as well.
The Fewer People, The Better
Family gatherings are typically sizable, but in the time of COVID-19, keeping the number of people in your holiday party to a minimum is recommended.
With fewer people in one place, the risk of your senior loved one being exposed to the coronavirus is reduced.
Ideally, nothing beats an online video conference session as the safest way for a family to gather over the holidays. However, if your family is determined to see each other face-to-face, the tips listed above should help keep your senior loved ones safe from COVID-19 during the holidays.
About the Author
Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist forParadise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.
Moving from one home to another is seldom easy — in fact, it’s considered one of the most stressful life events people experience. However, the process can be especially tough for senior citizens. Whether you’re an older adult about to leave your long-term home or you’re the child of a senior getting ready to help a parent leave his/her home, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Acknowledge Emotions. Anytime you’re talking about leaving a long-term home, you’re talking about more than changing addresses. Saying goodbye is hard. Instead of ignoring the sadness that accompanies such a move, process it. Remember, it’s normal to feel some sadness, whether you’re moving into an assisted-living facility, in with relatives or simply to a smaller place.
Pare Down Possessions. When it comes down to the physical moving process, the less you have to move, the easier the transition. Rather than packing every worldly possession and forcing yourself to organize later, take the time now to downsize. Go through all your furniture, knick-knacks, mementos, gadgets and so on, and determine whether you’ll truly need those items in the new place. Separate everything into “keep,” “give away” and “trash” piles. If you don’t want to hand down or donate certain items, plan a garage sale to get a little extra cash in the process.
Hire Professional Movers. Don’t endure unnecessary stress by managing the moving process alone — hire movers. Find a company that specializes in assisting with smooth transitions, and enlist its help to transport furniture and boxes to their intended destinations. If some things are going to a new home and others are going to friends and family, communicate to your moving company which items go where.
Pack an Overnight Bag. Set aside a few changes of clothes, important toiletries, towels and sheets to have with you for that first night or few nights in your new home. Instead of rifling through boxes and feeling overwhelmed with all there is to unpack, there will be a little normalcy — even when you’re still getting settled. Other good items to bring are a first-aid kit and flashlight.
Moving as a senior citizen isn’t easy, but it can be a smoother, more pleasant experience with a little planning. Use the tips above to aid your upcoming move.
Chris Crompton is a marketing manager for TSI,a leader in the shipping and freight industry since 1989. TSI offers low rates and professional service on long distance small moves and shipments.
America’s senior citizens are often stereotyped to be bad (sometimes unsafe) drivers. But the truth is that simply growing older does not impair a person’s ability to be safe behind the wheel by default. Many healthy seniors remain skilled drivers and are as adept and alert as anybody, but others struggle with the early signs of health conditions that can affect driving, and would like to do what they can to keep driving and be safe. If physical or cognitive health conditions have progressed to a point where focus and reflexes are hindered even during daily activities not behind the wheel, then driving is not advised.
How Age Affects Driving Competence
Dementia: Cognitive diseases, like Alzheimer’s can hinder an elder’s memory, critical thinking, and problem solving skills needed for minding the road.
Vision and Hearing Impairment: Aging may naturally dull a driver’s sense of sight and hearing. Aged eyes may be more sensitive to sunlight in the windshield or headlights at night. It is important for senior drivers to routinely schedule vision and hearing tests to make sure they are safe to drive.
Arthritis and Weak Joints: Conditions like arthritis can hinder hand dexterity required for turning steering wheels or shifting gears. When joints are weak, actions like buckling a seatbelt or pushing the brakes may be difficult which can be unsafe for drivers.
Reflexes: Sometimes it’s not you who mess up, but other drivers around you. Adept reflexes are crucial to reacting to dynamic developments on the road. Reflexes can be tested by doctors during checkups and physicals to guarantee senior safety.
Over-cautiousness: Sometimes seniors become self-conscious about their difficulty focusing on what’s going on, and may be too safe by going dangerously slow to prevent speeding or car crashes, but actually put other drivers in danger who try to maneuver around them.
Tips for Senior Drivers to Keep License
It’s wise for very aged seniors who notice the warning signs to stick to familiar destinations with short distances and avoid any anxiety or possibility of getting lost.
Driving while stressed or tired can lead to making mistakes on the road, which can lead to a revoked license. Only drive when you feel completely ready.
Keep track of how medications may impact driving skills.
Always make sure to check your mirrors constantly, especially when changing lanes.
Give other drivers space by not driving too close behind.
Aging Baby Boomers want fun, creative exercise that not only keeps them active, but also provides an avenue for making friends. Luckily, programs across the country are stepping up to meet this growing demand. Here are five innovative places and programs that are keeping seniors active, independent, and social.
SilverSneakers is a unique senior wellness program that gives older adults access to over 13,000 fitness centers and classes across the country, all free of charge through qualifying health plans. Organizations that participate in SilverSneakers offer senior-centric fitness classes like low-impact circuit training, yoga, seated exercise, water aerobics, and fall-prevention fitness. More than just an exercise program, SilverSneakers emphasizes the value that friendship and social support bring to senior health. In fact, 74 percent of active SilverSneakers members report they’ve made friends through the program.
The YMCA and YWCA offer a wide range of fitness programs designed for seniors. Whether you’ve just hit your senior years and want to stay fit with Zumba, or you’re limited to chair exercises but still want to get out and stay healthy, your local Y has a senior fitness program for you. Most Ys also have pools, which means that seniors of all ages can enjoy low-impact water exercise to build flexibility and endurance without straining arthritic joints. Seniors can make friends in class and join senior group outings led by YMCA staff.
Multigenerational Community Centers
Senior centers are becoming a thing of the past, and multigenerational centers are taking their place. The new multigenerational centers mix the therapeutic recreation typically found in senior centers with social activities, fitness classes, and recreational sports that appeal to all ages. By creating a place where active people of any age can come together — without neglecting the unique needs of aging adults — multigenerational centers let seniors stay healthy side-by-side with friends of all ages. And since interaction across ages has been shown to be morebeneficial to senior mental and cognitive health than senior-to-senior socialization alone, multigenerational centers can help keep seniors stay fit in more ways than one.
Ageless Grace combines physical and mental fitness to keep seniors healthy in both body and mind. With lessons that range from memory recall and imagination exercises to upper body strength and joint mobility, Ageless Grace takes a holistic approach to senior fitness. The classes are taught by independent instructors and can be found in churches, retirement homes, schools, and community centers around the country. Since Ageless Grace lessons incorporate both physical activity and mental games, they provide ample opportunity for seniors to interact and make friends. Ageless Grace participates in the SilverSneakers program, so qualified seniors can access their classes free of charge.
Senior Sport Leagues
Nothing promotes bonding quite like team sports, and senior sport leagues are a great option for active older adults who want to meet friends while staying fit. Seniors can access established programs like Granny Basketball, Senior Softball, National Senior League Wii bowling, or the National Senior Games Association. There may also be team sports for seniors available through local community and recreation centers. And if there’s no established league in your town? Enterprising seniors can start their own social league by advertising through existing fitness and community centers.
Staying active in your later years does more than keep you fit. In addition to helping you retain flexibility, improve your balance, and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, staying active can also be an excellent way to maintain a vibrant social life. And socialization comes with its ownhealth benefits, from a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia to better physical mobility. With such a diversity of programs available, there’s a way for every senior to stay active and social.
Are painful arthritis flare-ups keeping you from doing the things you enjoy during the winter? Unfortunately, cold, damp weather and inactivity can both contribute to joint stiffness and discomfort. If this sounds all too familiar to you, don’t miss these quick tips for preventing arthritis pain in cold weather:
While it might seem more pertinent to hunker down under a warm blanket at home during cold days, it is widely known that physical activity plays a key role in keeping joints loose and mobilized. Find a way to exercise each day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes at a time. Try going for a walk, practicing yoga, swimming, biking, or even simply exercising at home with a stability ball and resistance bands.
Heavy winter clothes may feel great at first, but they can quickly increase your body temperature and actually leave you sweating underneath them. When that moisture on your body mixes with cool air, you have a recipe for freezing and making your joint pain worse. Opt instead to wear multiple light, breathable layers of clothing when heading out on cold days and always cover vulnerable joints with gloves and other accessories to keep them warm.
Update Your Arthritis Toolbox
Invest in basic tools that simplify daily tasks that can become more difficult during arthritis flare-ups. For example, a soft, wide handlegrip that you slide over utensils like a fork or toothbrush can make it easier to eat and brush your teeth when your hands are sore and stiff. Tools like jar openers, reacher grabbers, button hooks, and dressing sticks can help too.
Get a Massage
Massage therapy has long been touted as an effective method for managing arthritis symptoms and for good reason. Massage can loosen tight muscles that are constricting joint motion and it can boost blood circulation and trigger the brain to release feel-good hormones. You can turn the heat up on a professional massage too with warm oils, hot towels, and even hot stones.
Eat Warm Foods Oftentimes the foods that are promoted to help relieve inflammation are also those that generate thermogenic (temperature increasing) properties in the body. Ginger, cayenne, and turmeric, for example, have been shown to help relax and expand blood vessels for improved blood flow that benefits arthritic joints. Try them in a warming winter tea or soup.
Now more than ever before, we’re seeing more adults choosing to live at home as they grow in years, or what is known as aging in place. Living at home helps aging adults maintain their lifestyle for as long as possible, rather than moving into a nursing home or assisted care center. In fact, three-quarters of adults 50 years and older would prefer to remain in their homes as they age,according to a survey by AARP. Though many of us won’t be able to live independently forever, home modifications will allow your loved ones to continue to live in their home longer by creating a more manageable environment. Whether they’re living in a single-story condo in Dallas, TX or a three-story home in Portland, OR,there are modifications that can be made to every home to help make daily tasks a little easier.
Helpful home modifications
As we grow older our bodies and capabilities change, and not all homes are designed to support this challenge we’ll face. A lot of times doorways are too narrow, bathrooms too small, floors too slippery, and kitchen cabinets too high to reach. For aging adults, a home designed for optimal accessibility, convenience, and safety is imperative to avoid falls or serious injuries.
Optimizing a home for safe and comfortable living while creating a home environment that makes getting around easier is essential for aging in place. That’s why we’ve gathered the most common home modifications, from simple adjustments to larger remodeling projects.
General Home modifications to aid in mobility
Install handrails. For aging in place, add handrails to stairs, hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms for extra balance.
Upgrade the lighting. Replace existing bulbs with LED bulbs to increase visibility. Consider installing touch-activated lamps, and placing night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways.
Install lever door handles. Switch out standard round doorknobs for lever-style handles. These do not require the same level of grip.
Install a stairlift. This is a great alternative when walking up stairs becomes more difficult. Install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs to prevent your loved one from using the stairs in the dark.
Install automated blinds. This style of window treatment allows aging adults to adjust their blinds without having to stand up.
Create an open floor plan. Make wide passageways throughout the home with little obstruction. Widen doorways and hallways if your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair to navigate their home.
Replace hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl flooring for carpet. If your loved one doesn’t use a wheelchair, carpet will be most forgiving and provides more floor consistency.
For the living room
Rearrange furniture and remove clutter. To avoid tripping hazards, be sure furniture placement leaves plenty of space to move about the room safely.
Install anti-slip mats. Add strips to the bottom of rugs to increase traction and reduce the chances of tripping.
Replace unsteady furniture. Discard furniture that wobbles to prevent falls, and add plastic bumpers to the sharp edges on furniture pieces.
For the kitchen
Keep daily-use items accessible. Store small appliances, cookware, and tableware between waist and shoulder height to avoid the need to crouch down or use a step stool.
Consider purchasing a stovetop with an automatic shut-off feature. Once the sensors fail to detect motion for an extended period of time, the stove will shut off.
Install a hands-free faucet and anti-scald device. Easily turn the water on and off with the wave of a hand, and install an anti-scald device to avoid the possibility of burns.
Replace kitchen cabinets and adjust counter and sink height. For more convenient storage space, install drawers, open shelving, or pull out shelves. Choose a counter height where it’s easy to prepare meals and wash dishes while sitting.
Adjust the location of major appliances. Place the oven, sink, and refrigerator as close to each other as possible.
For the bathroom
Add adhesive strips to a bath mat in showers and tubs. This can help prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
Install non-skid strips in case the flooring becomes slippery. Try to avoid ceramic tile as this can become slick when it’s wet.
Install a walk-in bathtub or a shower transfer bench. This can greatly reduce the chances of slipping and falling. Climbing in and out of a traditional bathtub or standing for an extended period of time may become more difficult.
Install grab bars or rails in bathtubs and near the toilet. This will improve mobility and help to prevent falls.
Install a raised toilet seat. An elevated toilet seat decreases the distance between standing and sitting.
For the home’s exterior
Create at least one no-step entry into the home. Replace exterior stairs with a removable ramp for a smooth transition into and out of the home.
Add exterior lighting and landscape lighting. To avoid falling or tripping, add outdoor lighting to walkways and stairs.
Install handrails. Add handrails on both sides of walkways for extra support and balance.
Choose low maintenance materials. Opt for vinyl siding, metal roofing, composite decking, and low maintenance landscaping.
Install a security system. A home security system can give your loved one a sense of security and protection.
How to pay for home modifications
While in the end, it’s generally less expensive to age in place as opposed to living in a senior living community, the upfront costs for a remodel can add up. Luckily there are resources and programs available, such as home improvement grants, equipment loans, and low-interest loans.
You should also consider researching programs like Medicare Advantage, Non-Medicaid Government assistance and Medicaid HCBS Waivers, Veterans programs, and non-profit organizations for financial help. As you’re crunching the numbers, it’s important to remember that the cost associated with home modifications has two components: the labor cost and the materials cost. Oftentimes, the cost of labor for installing the equipment will not be covered by insurance.
Create a support system with senior care and services
Forming a support system for your loved one is a big part of aging in place. Besides the support from family members, it’s a good idea to consider senior care and services for your aging parent. There is a network of services available, including meal delivery, nurses, transportation, and house cleaning services.
In-home care services are also offered at various levels depending on the situation. On days when you’re unavailable, an elder companion could spend time with your loved one to prevent social isolation. In-home caregivers can provide help with day-to-day activities like cooking, grooming, or shopping, while also making sure your loved one is safe in their home
Introduce technology into your loved one’s home
Assistive technology solutions, smart home features, and tech gadgets can be used to help simplify everyday tasks, promote independence, and stay safe while aging in place. There are all sorts of devices, like medical alert devices to signal for help, assistive seating devices to lift your loved one into the standing position, and smart bulbs that can be controlled remotely.
Individual results may vary.
This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed and bonded home services professional.
Redfin does not provide medical advice.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Redfin does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on Redfin’s blog. Reliance on any information provided by Redfin’s blog, by persons appearing on Redfin’s blog at the invitation of Redfin’s blog, or by other members is solely at your own risk.