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Live Life On Your Own Terms

change ahead 1 780x520The end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of change and transition. No, the sentence you just read isn’t repetitious; like two sides of the same coin, change and transition are two related but different things.

Change is what happens to you. It’s external and situational – like changing jobs, getting married or divorced, moving to a new home, having a baby or losing a loved one.

Transition is what you do about it, how you adjust to change, both emotionally and psychologically. Transitions start when changes end, as you let go of the old reality and start building a new beginning.

prescription medicine 693x520They’re the same meds you’ve been taking for years, but now they’re starting to work differently. Maybe they’re less effective than they used to be. Or maybe they have new side effects. It’s not that the medicines have changed, but that your body has.

“Prescribing medications for people 65 and older can be more challenging, because some drugs can be more toxic or cause more side effects than when you were younger,” says Kirby Lee, professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California at San Francisco. “As your body ages, it absorbs medications differently. They can be metabolized differently by your liver and excreted differently by your kidneys.”

agingathomeEach and every day, some 100,000 Americans turn 65. Of Americans 65 or older, more than 80% say they want to stay in their homes.

But should they?

According to AARP housing expert Rodney Harrell, “The housing stock right now is not meeting people’s needs.” In light of his estimate that only about 1% of America’s more than 100 million urban, suburban and rural homes are conducive to aging in place, that’s something of an understatement.

What does it take to put a home into that 1%? The answer depends on two things – the home itself and where it’s located.

Giving up the car keys can be bad for your health. The loss of independence can lead to isolation and depression, which in turn could speed the onset of dementia.

But not giving up the car keys when you can no longer drive safely can be even worse, because it could lead to auto crashes.

So what’s a senior to do?

First, assess and possibly brush up on driving skills. The AAA’s 15-question self-rating form for drivers over 65 can help highlight areas for improvement. And if improvement’s needed, the AARP’s 55 Alive course is a good refresher. You can even take it online, and completing it will earn you a healthy discount on your car insurance.

risks ahead signHuman beings are born with an urge for independence and self-sufficiency, and they never outlive it. So when challenges of aging at home start becoming a bit too much for your parents, they often hate to admit it – not only to their children, but also to themselves.

It can be a vicious cycle: Feelings of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression, which could lead to decline and early dementia, which could lead to deeper depression…

Early dementia can be tricky and hard to spot, so when you’re with your aging parents, here are seven danger signs to look out for:

  1. Skipped meds – Check your parents’ pill boxes to see if they’ve missed a daily dose or two. Missing doses can be life-threatening. So can taking too many doses at a time to make up a missed dose.
  2. Unpaid bills piling up – Paying bills is one of the first chores that aging parents lose track of. Piles of unpaid bills can be a sign of early dementia or of disorganization.
  3. A grimy, messy house – As aging people lose mobility and vision, regular household tasks and tidying up get harder. When it’s hard to bend, it’s easy to let things that fall to the floor stay there. But a cluttered house can be a tripping hazard, leading to falls, broken bones, surgery, and extended rehab.
  4. What’s in the fridge, and what isn’t – The presence of spoiled or spoiling food in the refrigerator, or the absence of fresh foods like fruits, veggies and meat, can be a sign that taking care of themselves is getting harder. So is unexplained weight loss.
  5. A certain odor – Mobility issues, dementia or difficulty keeping up with laundry can lead older people to downgrade personal hygiene. Fear of falling can lead aging seniors to skip showers, and a lack of personal hygiene may result in urinary tract infections.
  6. Unexplained bruises – Seniors bruise more easily, so bruises on a parent’s arm or leg may be signs of falls. Holding onto walls or furniture as they walk through the house can be a sign they’re unsteady on their feet and could use a cane or walker.
  7. New dings and dents in the car – The older we get, the slower our reaction time, and the harder it gets to turn our heads to check blind spots. Signs of little fender-benders may mean it’s time for anything from blind-spot mirrors to senior driving classes to an Uber or Lyft account.

Spotting one or more of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your parents need assisted living. Our detailed, person-centered, three-part needs assessment determines where they need help – and just as important, where they don’t. Since we objectively plan and manage senior care, we don’t have standard packages of services to sell you. Instead, we can recommend and arrange for the specific help at home your parents need – whether it’s bill-paying, light housekeeping, shopping assistance, home safety appliances, driving or whatever. That way, your parents save money and preserve their independence.

So please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation and see what a difference it can make in your parents’ health, safety and happiness.