Online Safety for Seniors

Senior Couple on Computer - VerticalThese days everything is done online. You can share photos with your family members, write emails to friends across the country, shop for your favorite items, pay for your bills, apply for health insurance and more.

The Internet has made it easy for you to do so many things. But it is also easier for others to take advantage of you through scams and schemes. The good news is that there are several measures you can take for online safety and still enjoy all the convenience that comes with the Internet.

 

It’s Personal

One of the biggest tips can be applied to a lot of different situations. Don’t share your personal information with untrusted sources. Personal information isn’t just your social security and credit card numbers. It can include your name, phone number and address or insurance policy or account number.

Not sure if the email you got is really from your bank? Banks will not require you to send your personal information through email.

Not so Fast

Whether through email, false websites or digital ads, there are a lot of internet traps and viruses. One way to avoid falling into them is to use caution when clicking links and downloading files. Some of these traps look like legitimate businesses or services. If you have your doubts, write down the name and look for it on the Better Business Bureau or ask an expert in that area. You can always go back and click on safe links, but once a bad link is clicked, it may be too late to stop a virus or information theft.

Received an email with an attachment, but not sure if you should open it? If you have doubts, it’s best to avoid downloading attachments from email addresses you don’t know.

Trust is Earned

The Internet can be a great place to do research because it’s so easy to publish and search for information. That ease also means that people can publish false or misleading information. If you’re searching for advice about health, finance, retirement, don’t take the word of the first source you see. Use multiple sources, and check their credentials. For businesses, check the Better Business Bureau. For other sources, check government websites to verify information.

How can you tell if a site is official? Only official government sites use the .gov ending.

Proceed with Caution

The best advice for online safety is the simplest. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t assume that everyone online is looking out for your best interest. Play it cautious and you’ll have a better chance of keeping your personal information safe.

Check out these sites for more in-depth information.

Department of Homeland Security Stop. Think. Connect.

FBI Internet Fraud

AARP Article: Beware of Medicare Open Enrollment Scams

 

How to Talk to Your Parent About a Medical Alarm

photo adult family in sweaters

You might have been here before. You call up mom to chat and she casually says, “Oh, you know sweetie, I fell the other day.” Worry flashes into your mind. What if she was seriously hurt? What if she was alone and couldn’t get help? How would you have known?

Without thinking, you snip back, “Mom, it’s not safe for you to be at home alone. You need to get a medical alarm.”

All goes down hill from there. Any potential conversation about the subject has been tainted by this argument, and Mom just won’t listen.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a conversation with your aging parent can be a productive, positive experience that sets the stage for your future relationship as adults. Here are some tips to start the conversation with your parents about getting a medical alarm.

Start Early

There is no time too soon to start the conversation. Broaching the subject well in advance of any potential emergency or critical situation takes pressure off both parties. All you’re doing at that point is being proactive and having a chat about the future. There doesn’t need to be any action taken at first, which can help ease your parent into accepting the possibility.

Consider your Approach

Most of the success will come not from what you say, but how you say it. Keep your message simple, and rather than driving the conversation with your concerns and feelings, ask mom or dad what their concerns are. And make sure you actually listen. “Even if you’ve already made up your mind…you should really listen to what he’s saying and be open to other options” (Matthiessen). There might be compromises that arise from listening to your parents’ perspective, and they’ll surely appreciate it more than if you presented only your side.

Stick Together

If you have siblings, be sure to involve them in your plans and conversations. Discussing your parents’ future is a family affair, and everyone needs to be a part of the planning process. This is often a sticking point among families as siblings may have different ideas about their parents’ needs and may live in different cities. But psychologist Barry Jacobs, PsyD, says that “It is crucial that all the adult siblings are giving their parents the same general message” (A Place for Mom, 2014). But don’t gang up with your siblings against your parents. Let them know of your plans to involve everyone so that they don’t feel like it’s a battle between parents and children.

Do Some Research

It’s a good idea to do some investigating before talking with your parents about medical alarms. If you have ready answers for their questions, the conversation will go much smoother. In addition to questions you may have about cost and set up, think about questions your parents may have like how easy it is to use or how comfortable it is to wear. It’s also a good idea to think about examples of other people who have been in a similar situation. Chances are your parent has an older friend or relative who has needed a medical alarm before. Whether the person in your example got an alarm or not, comparing themselves to someone familiar might help your parents see things objectively.

Let Go of Authority

You may have gotten used to bossing an aging parent around like your child. After all, your life is about getting things done, and it can be much easier just to tell them what to do. But when it comes down to it, older parents don’t want to feel like their adult children are trying to parent them. Your parents know that you only want the best for them, so respect their perspective and you’ll both be happier.

Sources

A Place for Mom. (2014, June 5). Moving Elderly Parents: Convincing Mom and Dad. A Place for Mom Blog. Retrieved from http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/moving-elderly-parents

Having the Conversation. (n.d.). Conversations: How to Best Get Started. Retrieved from http://www.havingtheconversation.com/How-to-best-get-started.html

How to Talk to the Elderly About Tough Family Issues. (n.d.). Caring.com. Retrieved from http://www.caring.com/articles/talking-to-elderly-parents

Sollitto, M. (n.d.). 7 Communication Techniques for Talking to Elderly Parents. Aging Care.com. Retrieved from http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/communication-techniques-to-deal-with-elderly-parents-138454.htm

Breast Cancer Awareness

Senior Woman Blowing KissesIn 1985, the breast cancer awareness campaign was one week long and backed by just two organizations.

Almost 30 years later, it has grown into an international awareness program that spans the entire month of October, and joins together hundreds of organizations dedicated to fighting breast cancer.

As the leading cancer among women globally, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer. There are almost 3 million women in the U.S. who have or had breast cancer. But it’s not just a woman’s disease. Each year, about 2,190 men are diagnosed with the disease.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, nonprofit organizations host a variety of events to garner financial and volunteer support. Much of the emphasis is on early detection, because diagnosing early can lead to a five-year survival rate of 98 percent.

Most organizations recommend regular self-checks as well as preventative doctor screenings including mammograms.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is one Texas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness about the disease. Founded in 1991 by breast cancer survivor Janelle Hail, the organization spends more than 80 percent of revenue on mission-related programs. With early detection so critical for breast cancer, one of the NBCF’s programs is to offer free mammograms to women in all 50 states through a hospital network.

NBCF also recognizes the value of having a community of support for those diagnosed with the disease. Their website Beyond the Shock features breast cancer facts, personal stories of survivors, and a question and answer forum.

Sources: American Cancer Society, National Breast Cancer Foundation

What Yoga Pose Are You?

In honor of Yoga Month this September, we’ve put together a fun quiz. Take a minute to find out your characteristic stretch.

Preparedness for Caregivers

Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kitIt is hurricane season here in Houston, Texas, which means that many people are thinking about ways they can prepare should disaster strike. Preparation well in advance of an actual emergency situation is key for getting through even the toughest situations. For caregivers of older adults, it is even more important to develop a plan.

The Federal Emergency Management Association has developed a preparedness website, Ready.gov that offers plenty of suggestions for making sure that you and your family are ready. Here are some of the key points that caregivers of older adults should keep in mind when developing their preparedness plan.

Electronic Funds

If your loved one receives federal social security checks, consider an automatic payment method instead of the paper checks through the mail. Direct deposit into a bank account or payment on a prepaid debit card can eliminate the worry about losing a check in the mail, or being displaced form home and not having access to mail. This method also eliminates the risk of checks being stolen.

Share the Responsibility

As a caregiver, you probably already know what it means to develop a strong support network. Preparing for a disaster is no different. You’ll want to make sure that each member of your caregiving team: healthcare professionals, family members and neighbors know what the plan is for handling a disaster. Make sure that everyone on the team has contact information for all team members, and that there is a detailed plan for who is calling whom to share information during the situation. The network plan should knowledge of where emergency supplies are kept at your loved one’s home, and duplicate keys to allow access.

Prescription Medications

During a disaster situation, it might be difficult to access doctors or pharmacists easily. You can take a few steps ahead of time though, to ensure that your loved one has the medication he/she needs. Keeping daily medications organized in a pill planner box on a regular basis can help prepare for a situation in which you need a week or more of medications.  One tip is to fill prescriptions on the first day eligible, rather than waiting until the supply runs out. That way there is always a buffer of extra medications for use during an emergency.

Documentation

Make sure that your loved one has copies of important documents saved with their emergency supply kit. These can include financial, family records, wills or deeds, tax information, etc. It’s a good idea to also keep a copy at a separate location, like your home if you live elsewhere, or at a neighbor’s home. Keep the papers in a water-proof container. Medical information like prescriptions, dosage of medications, allergies, doctors’ names and insurance information can also be stored in an online personal health record for added security.

Have a Kit

In addition to a plan of action, you’ll want to stock your loved one’s home with a robust emergency preparedness kit. Here’s a list of items to consider including:

  • Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days
  • Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget the can opener if you have cans!
  • Radio: battery-powered or hand cranked so you can use it when the power goes out
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries: for the flashlight, radio, and any other battery-operated devices
  • Battery operated phone charger: smart phones are super helpful if they’re charged, but otherwise a waste
  • First aid kit:
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps
  • Supplies for any pets: food and water

Source: Federal Emergency Management Association

September is Prostate Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Month

senior couple in kitchen

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the United States, affecting 17 percent of men, but age plays a role in the likelihood of developing the disease. In fact, more than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. And for men 70 and older, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.

More than 20,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 73. This cancer mainly develops in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older.

Busting 5 Myths about Prostate and Ovarian Cancer

  1. No symptoms means no cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the most asymptomatic cancers. Not all men experience symptoms.

  1. The Pap test screens for ovarian cancer.

The Pap test is a screening tool for cervical cancer. There is no screening test for the early detection of ovarian cancer.

  1. Vasectomies cause prostate cancer.

The procedure has not been linked to increasing a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer, but has led to more clinic visits, which has increased the rate of detection.

  1. Oral contraceptives cause ovarian cancer.

The opposite is true; use of oral contraceptives results in a 40 to 50 percent decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer.

  1. I’m safe because it doesn’t run in my family.

Family history does increase a man’s odds to 1 in 3, but of all men, 1 in 6 will be diagnosed.

Genetic or hereditary causes of ovarian cancer account for only 5 to 10 percent of the estimated 23,400 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year in the United States.

Get involved

The Prostate Cancer Foundation has been leading the fight against prostate cancer since 1993. Since then, new medicines and therapies have been developed to help treat and overcome instances of cancer. During September, you can help by participating in efforts hosted by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has been providing education and support for women with ovarian cancer and their families since 1995. Their Why Teal campaign aims to raise awareness about the disease and the people it affects.

Sources: Prostate Cancer Foundation, CMPMedica: Myths and Facts about Ovarian Cancer, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society.

10 Inspiring Seniors

August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day, established by President Reagan in 1988 as a salute to older adults “for all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish.”

With an aging world population, more and more older adults are continuing to work past retirement age. And that’s no different for those in the public eye. Age is not just a number for these folks.

Here are 10 famous senior citizens who inspire us:

Judi Dench

Source: Flickr by Siebbi

 

 

Judi Dench “I need to learn every day.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Carter

Source: Flickr by Geoff Holtzman

 

 

President Jimmy Carter “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”

 

 

 

 

Jane Goodall

Source: Flickr by Nick Step

 

 

Jane Goodall “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

 

 

 

 

Irving Fields

Source: Flickr by Simon Law

 

 

Irving Fields “The more I play, the better it feels. I play one note, I get six months younger. I play two, I’m a year younger. I play a whole concerto and I’m like Benjamin Button — I’m not even born.”

 

 

 

Betty White

Source: Flickr by David Shankbone

 

 

Betty White “It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”

 

 

 

Warren Buffett

Source: Flickr by Aaron Fieldman

 

 

Warren Buffett “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

 

 

 

 

Madeleine Albright

Source: Flickr by Commonwealth Club

 

 

Madeleine Albright “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

 

 

 

 

Morgan Freeman

Source: Flickr by Live Life Happy

 

 

Morgan Freeman “All my life, all my life that I can, as far back as I can remember, I saw my first movie when I was six years old. And since then I wanted to do that. I wanted to be a part of that.”

 

 

 

Oprah Winfrey

Source: Flickr by Barack Obama Campaign

 

 

Oprah Winfrey “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

 

 

 

 

Jack Nicholson

Source: Flickr by Eric Gilliland

 

 

Jack Nicholson “The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.”

 

Stop Falls Before They Happen

older couple on couch

Falling and even just the fear of falling can cause serious medical problems, especially for older adults. We’ve written before about the top reasons people fall in their homes. Our friends over at SeniorHomes.com created some tips for preventing falls before they even happen.

For the elderly, falls certainly pose a great threat for traumatic injury.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year one out of three adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. This type of problem can then lead to further injury, which is why learning how to prevent falls is so important. Take time now to learn several everyday precautions that you can take to help yourself, or someone you love, keep from falling.

Recognize the Risk-factors

Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from living your life, instead be aware of the risk-factors that could lead to more frequent injury. Some things are beyond our control, like age and current health, but other lifestyle modifications, like choosing the right footwear can make a huge difference.

Read the entire piece>>

Retirement Doesn’t Equal Slowing Down

Baby Boomers redefine what retirement means

retirement sign

Changing economic forces are shifting the definition of retirement. It used to mean that before age 60, you stopped working, went home with a pension that would carry you through the “golden years,” and took up a hobby to fill your days.

This is no longer the case. What adults in the baby boom generation, those aged 50-68, are realizing, is that retirement for them starts later in their life and might even include a part-time job or second career.

According to an April study by Bank of America, more than half of respondents older than 50 were going to push off their retirement. That number is up 36% from a 2011 survey.

Both actual age of retirement and the expectation to retire at a certain age is up from just 10 years ago. A Gallup poll showed that the average expected age of retirement is 62, up from 59, and the average actual age of retirement is up to 66 from 64 in 2004.

While many seniors are working to shore up their retirement finances, some are just not ready to quit the workforce. Advances in healthcare have made it possible for people at retirement age to continue their active lifestyles for years beyond what they used to.

A recent article on LinkedIn touted several good reasons companies should seek out and hire employees over 50 years old. While some older adults are staying in or returning to the workforce because they have to, others are doing so because they want to. Both can be valuable assets to companies who are looking for loyal employees who plan to stay at one place for five or 10 years.

Another unique position Baby Boomers face during their retirement age years is caring for both their aging parents and their adult children. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that the population living in multi-generational households has doubled since 1980—because the millennial generation is opting to stay or move back to their parents’ homes.

Four Ideas for Showing Your Parents Some Love

Pic of flowers for momParenting is a full-time, nonstop job. In 1994, President Bill Clinton established a national holiday to celebrate the role that parents of all kinds play in raising their children. Parents’ Day is held each year on the fourth Sunday in July. This year it falls on July 27. Here are some things adult children can do for your parents to thank them for always being there for you.   Home-cooked meal Remember those weeknights mom or dad scurried home from work to get food on your plate by 6 p.m.? Show them how much you appreciated those times by making a special meal for your parents. Day (or night) out Whether taking you to the movies, museums, or unique outings, your parents spent a lot of time trying to entertain you. Repay them with a treat to that new blockbuster or the latest exhibit at the art museum. Family photo session You may have dreaded dressing like your siblings and then posing for hours in formal portrait sessions. But guess what? Parents never get tired of pictures of their kids, no matter how old they are. Whether you include your folks in the picture or you surprise them, a family portrait is sure to put smiles on their faces. Handwritten note Even if Mom and Dad are on Facebook and you talk to them on the phone weekly, nothing beats a hand-written note or letter sent through the mail. Pour out your heart out to them through your written words. It doesn’t have to be poetic, just sincere. Senior parents are thankful for their families, and most of the time Mom and Dad just want to know that their children love them. The simplest way to celebrate your parents for Parents’ Day (or any day) is to tell them how you feel.