Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.
For seniors, getting old is the new black. You can ask them yourself. Because according to a recent survey, 68% of seniors never feel offended for being treated like one, while 70.3% feel being called ‘old’ is hardly offensive. The truth is, getting old is blessing – not a curse.
For starters, age brings wisdom. By the time the grey hairs start popping up, you’ve had your fair share of experiences. You’ve likely travelled around a bit, held a few jobs, been through good and bad relationships, started a family, and made some life-changing decisions. But when it comes down it, you’re all the wiser for it. Going forward you can make better, more informed decisions, and even give your two cents to the younger generation.
As you mature, so too will your relationships. You’ll likely cut out the friendships that didn’t mean much, and work on the ones that do. Essentially, you’ll start seeking quality, not quantity, across all areas of your life – which isn’t a bad philosophy to live by. Plus, who said getting old isn’t fun?
Take LATA 65 for example, an art organisation in Portugal that’s destroying age stereotypes in the street art scene. By giving senior citizens the tools and knowledge to create their own stencils, the organisation’s goal is to connect the older and younger generations through art, as well as help the elderly get out and about to engage in contemporary culture.
But that’s just one example of how seniors are making the most of their retirement. What else are they getting up to?
How Aussies are living it up in their golden years
Gone are the days of knitting, card games and staying put. Seniors these days are proving to be one the most lively and radical bunch of seniors to date. According to the Golden Years Report, 85% of seniors consider themselves happy, while 80% are doing the things they really want to do.
In fact, most feel younger than they actually are. This can be attributed to being more physically active, learning new things, travelling to new places, having new experiences, being sociable, and having hobbies.
Seniors are also busting ‘old age’ stereotypes. For example, as technology becomes more prominent in our lives, Aussie seniors are no longer relying on others to show them the ropes. Instead, many are now technically savvy and spend plenty of time online. They also have no problem dressing like younger generations, speaking the same lingo (#YOLO), or even getting tattoos.
While they might not be huge spenders, today’s retirees are also spending more money than earlier generations. So instead of slowing down and disappearing modestly into retirement, they’re choosing to fork out just as much money (sometimes more) on their later lifestyles. And why not? Retirement isn’t an expiry date – it’s an excuse to live life to the fullest.
It’s safe to say, Australian seniors are reinventing the concept of ‘getting older’. They’re not confined to the activities and stereotypes usually associated with old age, and are instead open-minded, tech-savvy and progressive. They’re not just comfortable with the modern world, they’re enthusiastically making the most of it. So if there’s one take home message here, it’s this – there’s still plenty to look forward to.
When you’ve started to notice changes in an elderly relative, you may wonder if a mental health issue is the cause. While it is important a mental health professional diagnoses these issues, some signs exist indicating that the time has come to make an appointment.
Depression can occur for a host of reasons. Elderly individuals may be suffering from the loss of a loved one, or they may feel alienated, isolated or otherwise separated from their friends or from their interests outside of the house. Individuals who seem filled with sadness and negative emotions or who are hinting about emotional turmoil may need outpatient or inpatient treatment for depression.
Anxiety Issues/Bipolar Disorder
You may also notice that your loved ones are having heightened periods of elevation followed by periods of deep sadness. They could be suffering from bipolar disorder. Serious anxieties could begin to manifest at this age too. For example, you may notice that your elderly relatives always seem to be thinking about their own death or about expected loss of other loved ones.
As people age, you may think that it is a normal occurrence for them to forget information that they would have once remembered. However, these early slips could be signs of a more serious problem that is coming into fruition. Your loved ones might now be forgetting about certain dates or social events, but these struggles could turn into failures to take medication or complete other necessary medical tasks.
If you notice that your loved ones are not taking care of themselves as they used to, this situation could also be a sign of mental health issues. For example, you may have noticed that your relatives are no longer brushing their teeth or bathing on a regular basis. Seeking professional help can uncover the root of the issue so that a plan of treatment can be devised.
Your loved ones might also seem to not want to participate in social activities anymore. Whether they are constantly declining invites to attend family functions or they do not want to participate in community activities any longer, these decisions could be signs that a mental health issue is present.
As your loved ones age, you may be the lookout for physical health issues. While addressing these problems is imperative, so is watching for signs of mental health struggles. May is mental health awareness month, get involved to help bring awareness to this important cause!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A nursing home is a long-term care facility, which provides 24-hour room and board with personalized healthcare services, such as nursing care, therapy, rehabilitation, and a range of other programs and treatments. Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be stressful because it is an unknown experience with many factors to consider. Patients typically seek 24/7 care at a nursing home to address issues like:
- Chronic illness
- Complex medical needs
- Therapy or rehabilitation
- Recovery after sickness, injury, or operation
- Age-related issues such as forgetfulness, need for constant supervision or medical help.
There are typically two types of services available at nursing homes: short-term rehabilitation and long-stay residential units. Choosing a long-stay facility for a parent or other relative is an important decision that ensures the loved one receives appropriate care, respect and can experience the highest level of function and good quality of life.
Four Steps to Help Choose a Nursing Home
There are approximately 691 licensed nursing homes in the state of Florida, and this represents more than 64,000 beds. Because this is such an important decision and there are hundreds of nursing homes, the selection process can be overwhelming at first. Here are some easy steps to start the selection process.
Step One: Choose a geographical area.
Select a geographical area conveniently located so that close friends and family members can visit.
Step Two: Create a shortlist.
Do some quick research and create a shortlist of facilities that appear to match the family’s goals, such as environment, programs, and different treatments or therapy.
Step Three: Perform an advanced review of the shortlist.
- ov compares three nursing homes and ranks them based on overall rating, health inspections, quality, and staffing.
- Ask family, friends, and coworkers that you trust if they have experience with any homes on the shortlist.
- Physicians and nurses often have an inside understanding of how certain nursing homes operate. Ask your loved one’s general physician if they provide medical service at a particular nursing home and if they have a specific facility they would recommend.
Step Four: Visit the different facilities that remain on the shortlist.
- If possible, visit the very hall and room where the loved one would reside.
- Gain as much information as possible about the day-to-day life and activities that current residents experience.
- Take note of the cleanliness of the facility, including the appearance of the staff and residents, the common area, the cafeteria, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen.
- Take note of the atmosphere in the facility. Is it calm and caring or chaotic and unfriendly? Do the residents appear to be cared for, have activities they are engaging in, or do they look unkempt, bored, or secluded?
- Ask to meet with the nurses and staff who work in the hall where the loved one will reside. Jot down the names of the providers and caregivers and check online to see if there are any positive or negative reviews.
- Visit the cafeteria at dinner time or the common area during the day. Taste the food and talk to some residents to get their opinion.
- Ask to observe any special sessions taking place like crafts, yoga, or game day.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Suggestions
Experienced nursing home abuse attorney James Hannon, Esq. understands that choosing to place a loved one in a nursing home is a meaningful, life-changing event. He recommends that the family thoroughly investigate the facility to discover prior reports of neglect, abuse, or lawsuits and visit the nursing home of choice at different times to observe:
Look for positive and negative interactions. Watch for staff speaking to one another or residents with disrespect.
When you visit the facility on different days and different times, does it always smell clean?
Touch the bedding, doors, and chairs to see if the facility is comfortable and well maintained.
Stop in to see if the staff members are following the posted schedule.
Observe day-to-day interactions to see if the staff are following safety guidelines, such as confirming the patient’s name, the drug, and dosage before giving medication.
Is the property secure? Is there a security staff member on-site? Do the doors lock at certain hours. Is the parking lot well lit?
As you consider your options, remember that choosing a nursing facility is an important decision. Take the time to research and visit several facilities so that you can confidently place your loved one in a loving, safe environment.