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Live Life On Your Own Terms

caregiver photot 781x520Are you starting off the New Year feeling exhausted? Unmotivated? Constantly frustrated and forgetful? Having problems at work or with relationships?

Then you may be grappling with caregiver burnout.

It’s bad enough that the ongoing obligations and responsibilities – and the routine stress, worry and discomfort that caring for a loved one entails – threaten your emotional health.

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.