Even though Peoria’s weather last January was warmer than normal and snowfall was below average, there is no guarantee this year’s weather will be a rerun. A return to normal January averages—high of 33, low of 17, and 24 inches of snow—is certainly possible and it would be wise for everyone, especially older adults, to be ready for their return.
There is almost certainly no one on your holiday gift list more difficult to buy for than a special older adult in your life. It might be a parent, grandparent, close relative or a good friend. Regardless, usually when you ask what they would like it’s nearly impossible to get even a hint. We usually hear, “I don’t need anything.” Or “Just get me something nice.” Not very helpful.
To help you get started on your holiday shopping, 20 gift ideas follow. Some will support independent living; others will give your loved one an enjoyable experience; and others will include time for you to share. And some are simply a way to give the gift of your time, which may be the best gift of all.
Picture this: You have just returned from a visit with your physician and she has informed you that you are fall prone and need to be more careful to avoid falls. So now you are wondering, “What am I supposed to do—or not do—to ‘be more careful?’”
In a recent survey of over 1,000 adults done by a financial services firm, 28% of those surveyed admitted they spend more time planning their vacations than for their retirement. Even though we know better, “fun and soon” often wins over “important, but not fun—and in the far-off future.” We know better and it is easy to procrastinate, but there is no better feeling than knowing you have a plan; it frees us to live our lives with much less stress and worry. The first step to having a plan is to get your information together and organize it.
Most older adults want and expect to continue to live in their current home as they age. What many—if not most—do not take into account is that their home as it exists today may not support their needs in the future. The reality is one in eight adults age 65 and over (four in 10 by age 85) will experience significant difficulty with one or more of the normal activities of daily living. Moving around inside the home, getting in and out of bed, bathing and using the bathroom—once accomplished easily—can become difficult because of an illness or injury or simply the passage of time. Remaining in the home may mean that modifications will be needed – often quickly, with little chance to plan.
July in Central Illinois has always been a time for people to get out-of-doors to enjoy the summer weather. Activities with family and friends, gardening, picnics, swimming, or just enjoying a summer sunset make summer a special outdoor time. After the dark days of winter, just enjoying the summer sunshine is a special treat.
This month—observed as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month—gives us an opportunity to take a look at Alzheimer’s disease, to explore some things we can do to cope when it occurs and perhaps to decrease the chance of it developing.
Coping with Caregiver Stress
Life as the caregiver of an older adult can be richly rewarding. There are moments of warmth, joy and the good feeling that comes from supporting an elderly family member—in many cases someone who is suffering from a physical or cognitive disability—in their later years. But life as a caregiver also can be lonely, stressful and exhausting; it can be the most difficult job you will ever have. Assistance promised by family members may disappear over time or may never materialize, leaving you alone with a full-time or nearly full-time responsibility. When the care recipient has dementia, difficult behaviors compound the stress and may accelerate burnout.
Your Heart—Your Health
February is a month focused on the heart—Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the leading cause of death in both men and women 65 years or older and caused about 66 percent of deaths in people age 75 and older. While heart disease risk factors increase with age, there are still several things you can do to manage the risk.
It’s that time of year again. “What?” you say, “The Christmas Holidays already??” Well, yes – and it’s also flu season again. In fact, flu season officially started two months ago, in October and it will run until May. Every year thousands of people in the United States die from seasonal flu, and many more are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While older adults and people with chronic diseases are more likely to experience problems and complications from the flu, with the right precautions it is possible to stay healthy during the flu season.
Loneliness can cause premature death. So can social isolation and living alone. These are the findings of a study published early this year by a group of psychologists at Brigham Young University. The study, which evaluated prior studies of more than three million individuals, concludes that people who feel lonely, or are socially isolated or live alone have a higher probability of premature mortality. The increased likelihood of death was 26% for reported loneliness, 29% for social isolation and 32% for living alone.
A healthy diet is an important ingredient of a longer and stronger life. Nutritious food, properly prepared, is not just a necessity for physical wellness; it also contributes to a feeling of emotional well-being. Who doesn’t enjoy a well-prepared, nutritious meal? Unfortunately, good food handling and preparation habits can become challenging for older adults, resulting in food that may be unsafe to eat, even potentially fatal. For example, a 16-year study published by the National Institutes of Health found that the highest frequency of deaths caused by Salmonella poisoning occurred among adults age 75-84, with males being 84% more likely to be the victim.
Be Safe at Home in August
August 23 through 29 is National Safe at Home Week, sponsored by the National Safety Council. The number of things to be concerned about when it comes to keeping our homes safe can seem overwhelming. Fire safety (smoke alarms, having an exit plan), physical security (locks, landscaping), disaster readiness (floods and tornadoes) and poison control (safe storage of medicines and toxic cleaning products) are only a few of the areas that need attention. Another one, which especially concerns older adults, is the ability to move safely around our homes: trip and fall prevention.
Keep Your Cool in the Heat
The month of July usually means high temperatures in Central Illinois. The normal high temperature in the Greater Peoria area in July is 85.6 degrees with seven days normally above 90 degrees. This makes July the hottest month of the year, according to the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute.
It’s a smart idea for older adults to have a plan to deal with hot weather - before it occurs. They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes the body’s normal response to heat, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are also more likely to take prescription medications that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.
Medication Management Can Be Challenging
June is National Safety Month and gives us a chance to take a fresh look at how we handle prescription medications. This is an area where safety is critical and there are often areas where a better approach can pay dividends.
Essential Medication Safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips to prevent injuries resulting from improper use of medications:
All too often we read about or hear of an older friend or relative who has been the victim of an identity theft or scam. Scammers are smart and very creative and always thinking of new ways to take advantage of older adults. This article describes what, unfortunately, are some of the most common scams being seen this year.