Staying Independent with Age

The Importance of Independence

By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

Seniors in high school and seniors in their golden years may not like the same music, watch the same movies or show off the same dance moves, but they do have one thing in common. Both groups desire a more independent lifestyle.

Although what it means to live independently can change drastically as we age, independence is an essential part of what it means to be human. It means making your own decisions about how and where you live, who you spend time with, and what you spend time doing. It contributes toward the creation and preservation of our sense of self.

The way we spend our time and energy speaks volumes about who we are as people. And when we no longer have the ability to choose what we do and how we do it, it can be extremely difficult to maintain a sense of ownership over our own lives. However, those who are blessed with longevity will likely require assistance at some point.

One area where independence is keenly sensed, for both teenagers and their elders, is in the area of transportation. Particularly in American culture, driving signifies independent adulthood. A driver’s license is something that is dreamed about and looked forward to by the young, and not relinquished without a fight by the old. It means we can come and go as we please, and that’s certainly something that is hard to give up.

Maintaining an Independent spirit 

Sometimes being independent as we age means finding creative ways to maintain independence despite obstacles. For example, The Silver Runner Transportation service is one creative way for seniors who no longer drive to maintain transportation independence. The Silver Runner offers transportation for errands and appointments as well as group and private outings to help maintain a healthy social life.

Experiencing difficulty with mobility does not mean that you can no longer visit the places that you love. However, it may mean that you need to rethink the way that you visit these places. Enlisting the help of a mobility manager or other cargiver can be a great way to ensure a successful trip. You may also need to talk with a medical professional about how a walker, cane or self-propelling wheelchair could be used to increase your mobility and independence.

Because of new rules in America and across Europe to accommodate those with disabilities, traveling for those who have trouble walking long distances is even more possible than it has ever been. If you or a loved one have trouble getting around, but want to travel, the sky is the limit! To make your vacation a success, be sure to arrange for the assistance you need in airports and consider hiring help with ground travel and luggage.

Lastly, sometimes being independent means knowing when to ask for help. As we age, this may mean hiring an advisor to be your advocate, a person you can consult with to assist with many difficult decisions that must be made. You may also wish to create advance planning documents so that your choices are known and honored in the event that you are unable to express yourself later down the road.

The Geriatric Care Management team is available to listen to what is important to you or your loved one. We value and respect the unique qualities of each aging person, evaluate their needs, and locate the best resources to maximize that person’s level of independence.

Being independent is important at every age. Geriatric Care Management and The Silver Runner are committed to helping seniors remain as independent as possible, while also receiving a high level of care. Please contact us with questions or to schedule a consultation
(505) 897-3009.

7 Warning Signs That Aging Loved Ones Need Help

As a Record Number of Seniors Are Living Alone, Aging Experts Offer 7 Warning Signs to Look for During Summer Visits to Older Family Members and Friends

As millions of Americans travel during the summer, many adult children will spend time with their aging parents and loved ones. A record number of these older Americans are living alone. A government report found that 12.5 million older Americans — fully half of women age 75 or older — now live by themselves.

If you are traveling to visit family and “checking-in” on older loved ones this summer, it is important to look for signs that aging loved ones need help or attention.

To help, members of the Aging Life Care Association™ compiled this list of key questions to ask and warning signs to look for during your summer visit.

Look for these 7 potential warning signs that could mean your aging loved ones need medical attention or more assistance to continue living independently:

1. Changes in Physical Appearance: Do you notice either significant weight loss or weight gain? Do you notice any bumps or bruises that may indicate they have had falls?

2. Loss of Mobility: Do you notice any increased difficulty in walking or getting in and out of chairs/sofas? Do they appear less steady on their feet?

3. Decline in Home Cleanliness and Repair: Does their home look clean and well maintained or is it in need of cleaning and/or repairs? Is trash and/or clutter accumulating? Does it smell of urine or feces?

4. Reduced Ability to Prepare Healthy Meals: Do you notice a change in the kinds of foods they have (no more fresh fruits/vegetables, more frozen meals and canned goods)? Are their appliances like the stove, microwave and refrigerator in working order? Is there adequate food? Any spoiled food present?

5. Changes in Mood, Memory or Behavior: Do you notice your loved one constantly repeating things? Are you noticing increased confusion? Are you hearing from their friends that something has changed in their mood or behavior? Are they having difficulty carrying on an extended conversation? Are they showing irritability or apathy? Are they reporting more difficulty sleeping?

6. Changes in Routine: Do you notice stacks of unopened mail? Are bills not getting paid? Are medications being taken? Are prescriptions not being refilled? Are medical appointments being missed or follow-ups not being made? Have they cut back on outside/social activities.

7. Decline in Personal Hygiene: Are you noticing your loved one is unkempt, not dressing during the day like they used to; not showering and wearing dirty clothing when they do get dressed?

These are just a few warning signs that an older adult may need medical attention or other assistance. If one or more of these warning signs are detected, it might be time to bring in a professional to help.

Aging Life Care Professionals™ are an important resource to older adults and families who need assistance. With expertise and day-to-day experience in the community, Aging Life Care Professionals can guide aging adults and their families to the best decisions and best solutions.  Beginning with an in-depth assessment, a care plan is created by the Aging Life Care Professional and family. Together, they arrive at the best possible options.

It is difficult for many adult children to navigate through the myriad of options, especially when they are at a distance, working, and/or raising their own children. Find an Aging Life Care™ Expert at aginglifecare.org so that you don’t have to go it alone.


This blog is used with permission from Aging Life Care Association and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Talking to Elderly Parents about Falling

In his blog for the Huffington Post, Jim T. Miller, NBC contributor and Creator of SavySenior.org states:

It’s an unfortunate reality, but every year, one in three older Americans fall, making it the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors age 65 and older.

A simple fall can cause a serious hip fracture, broken bone or head injury, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death. But even falls without a major injury can cause seniors to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.

 

We couldn’t agree more. Fall prevention is one of the most crucial aspects of Aging life care. Learn more about fall prevention by reading Miller’s blog post.  Or read about how gardening improves balance!

Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations

Many are unaware of the fact that it’s common for Alzheimer’s patients to hallucinate—to see things that are not really there. This fascinating interview with a man living with the disease provides an inside look into what life with Alzheimer’s can be like. Read about it or listen to the audio interview at NPR.

Balance Exercises for Seniors

Finding Balance
By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

We often hear about the importance of achieving balance in our daily lives. We know that we need to find work-life balance. We need to slow down and weigh the significance of our activities. We need to balance others’ expectations with our own ability to meet them. We should eat healthy, balanced meals.

However, there is one kind of balance that you may not be thinking about as much as you should be—your ability to maintain physical balance.

When was the last time you paid attention to how well you can, for example, stand on one foot? If your answer is sometime in a distant high school physical education class, pay attention. It turns out that this skill is more important to our health than it seems. And this is especially true as we age.

According to the National Institute on Health, each year more than one third of people older than 65 fall. And fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures, can have a serious life impact. Falls can limit activities and make it hard, even impossible, to live independently.

For this reason, we at Geriatric Care Management want to encourage everyone, especially seniors, to evaluate their balance. We urge you to take charge of this vital component to a long, healthy and independent life. To improve and maintain good balance, we suggest involving your physician in the evaluation process. You may also want to request a physical therapy evaluation.

It’s important to realize that most of us are not as agile as we were in our younger days, and we should be realistic with our own limitations to avoid physical risks that would limit us even further. A medical professional can help you to determine which exercises are right for you. You may also want to include some of the following simple exercises from the National Institute on Aging in your journey to a more balanced life.

Simple exercises to improve balance:

Stand on one foot.
Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.
Hold position for up to 10 seconds.
Repeat 10-15 times.
Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
Do 10-15 sets on each leg.
Heel to toe walk.
Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
Repeat for 20 steps.

Balance walk.
Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for one second before stepping forward.
Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

For a slideshow of more balance-related exercises to try, visit the MAYO clinic website.
And please contact us if you or a loved one need any assistance. We are here to help. Visit us on the web, or call us at 505-897-3009.

NAPGCM is now Aging Life Care

Why a Name Change? Why Now?

By 2012 it became clear that the term “care manager” and even “geriatric care manager” no longer adequately communicated the profession as practiced by members of our Association.

We took a critical look at where we were as a profession. We studied family and caregiving statistics, aging demographics, services, and trends as well as our own members’ practices and the families they serve.

While we found navigators, advisors, and advocates of every kind providing services for aging or disabled adults, there is simply no other profession or practitioner who does what our members do!

Although our profession had been around for 30 years, our identity as “care managers” had been appropriated by any number of service providers.

Therefore, we recognized that now was the time for us to end the confusion. We needed to communicate that our members are owners of a unique knowledge base and represent the highest standards of practice and code of ethics. They share an unrivaled history and prestige.

After much research, investigation, discussion, and planning, a series of bold steps were taken.

On May 1, 2015 we reintroduced our profession — with a new brand — designed to clearly distinguish our profession from all the rest.

The profession is Aging Life Care™.

Practitioners are Aging Life Care Professionals™.

The professional organization to which these practitioners belong is the Aging Life Care Association™.

We invite you to explore our website to learn more about Aging Life Care – a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers.

Gardening Grows Senior Health

Gardening Grows Senior Health
By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

 
It’s spring, and for many people that means it’s time to get planting. It’s no surprise that flowers lift our spirits and home-grown vegetables are more nutrient rich, but did you know that exercising your green thumb has other health benefits too?
 
According to the National Wildlife Federation, researchers at the University of Arkansas found that women 55 and older who gardened at least once a week showed higher bone density than those who did other types of exercise. In fact, their study found that yard work and strength training were the two most significant ways for subjects to build bone density! National Wildlife Federation.
 
In addition to building stronger bones and muscles, gardening can also boost your mental health. Spending time in the sunlight increases vitamin D production and can help to prevent depression.
 
Getting started
If you’re not an experienced gardener, remember it’s a good idea to start small. You really don’t have to have a large, fancy space in order to reap the benefits of gardening. Raised beds are one option, they make planting and weeding easier, and limit the amount of bending and kneeling required. You can plant both flowers and vegetables in raised bed gardens to create a beautiful and bountiful crop.
 
Another option to consider is container gardening. A surprisingly large variety of vegetables can be grown in pots including green beans, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, mustard greens and, of course, tomatoes. And you don’t need much space to grow them.
 
If you live in an apartment, you might consider turning a patio or deck into a growing space. If you’re planting in a covered space, be sure to observe and chart the sunlight that the space receives. You want to make sure that your plants get adequate light to thrive.
 
 
Safety first
Before you start growing, be sure to check in with your physician to get the “green thumbs up.” Here are some additional tips to garden safely:
 

  • Stretch before starting any gardening activities. A short warm up will help prevent injury.
  • Shift positions and change hands every 10 minutes to prevent overuse of a particular muscle group.
  • Buy your materials in smaller packages rather than lifting heavy bags, which puts undue stress on your body.
  • Work for shorter lengths of time to prevent soreness later.
  • Stay hydrated and pay attention to your body’s signals to rest.
  • Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen, and dress in lightweight clothing to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • If you experience back or knee pain, or have other conditions that limit your mobility such as arthritis, consider using adaptive gardening equipment, under the supervision of your doctor, which can be purchased online or in some gardening stores
  • Consider planting perennial plants, which often require less attention and do not need to be replanted each year.
  • Water using soaker hoses to prevent the need to lift and maneuver a heavy hose.

 
Now you’re ready to plant! To determine the best time to plant your vegetable garden, visit the Farmer’s Almanac garden plannerYou might also consult with a local expert on what vegetables grow well in your area and how much water they require as well as shade, partial sunshine, or full sun. County extension services often have local gardening programs and information. In Albuquerque, contact the Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners at 505-292-7144 or abqmastergardeners.org more information. They also publish a book called Down to Earth, which gives detailed instructions on local gardening.


Need assistance getting to the nursery? Call
The Silver Runner today to schedule a custom outing today. (505) 872-0451

Celebrate Spring with a Silver Runner Outing!

Featured

Kim Williams, Manager of Transportation

With the beginning of spring, it feels as if the world is waking up from a long sleep. Our days are longer and warmer, and our outlook is renewed with the budding of trees and yellow burst of daffodils through the soil.

Silver Runner Transportation is offering some great group outings this spring, and we hope you or your loved ones will consider joining us! Our group outings are not only a great way to get out and enjoy the beauty of spring; they offer a way to meet new people and engage with the community around us.

On April 20th, we will spend a day at the aquarium at the ABQ Biopark. Our tour will be followed by lunch at the Shark Reef Café where we will watch sea life float by as we dine.

On May 14th, we’ll be taking a tour at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Museum followed by lunch at the Pueblo Harvest Café. On May 25th, we’ll celebrate spring by visiting the Butterfly Pavilion at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden and take a stroll through the Garden afterward.

The fee for our outings is all-inclusive, including transportation, accompaniment, and, when applicable, tickets and lunch. Those who have mobility limitations are welcome to join. We will be there to assist! Don’t let limitations in mobility or driving get in the way of getting out and enjoying spring and the company of others.

We hope to see you or your loved ones on one of our outings! For more details, please call us at 505-872-0451. Or, visit our website at: TheSilverRunner.com and click on the “upcoming outings” tab in the top menu bar for more information.

A checklist to help determine if it’s time for assisted living

Safe at home?
By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

January is often a time of reflection. It’s a time when we look back over the past year and resolve to do better in the next. We make lists to get organized and buy gym memberships to be healthier. We get to have a fresh start.

This year, we encourage you to add evaluating the safety of your elderly loved ones to your list of good deeds. To help, we’ve provided this simple checklist to help you to determine if your elderly loved one is safe living at home alone. Place a checkmark beside any areas that concern you.

Once you’ve completed the checklist, you should have a better idea of which areas need to be worked on this year. And if you would like help meeting the needs of your elderly loved one, please don’t hesitate to call us. We are happy to help.

Home Interior 

  • Stairs inside home are safe
  • The top and bottom of the stairway are easily visible
  • Handrails on both sides of stairs
  • Hallways and doorways wide and obstruction free
  • Fire extinguisher available
  • Smoke detectors present
  • Adequate lighting
  • Throw rugs absent
  • Area rugs secure and safe
  • Adequate heat
  • Adequate cooling
  • Space heaters safe
  • Hazardous materials stored safely
  • Adequate plumbing
  • Absence of rodents/insects
  • Adequate trash pickup
  • Space free of clutter/debris
  • Electrical cords safe
  • Safe use of electrical circuits/extension cords
  • Furniture arranged to facilitate mobility
  • Furniture appears sturdy and in good repair
  • Non-carpeted floors are not slippery
  • Door thresholds safe
  • Safe water temperature

Safe Storage of Chemicals 

  • Able to distinguish between products
  • Chemicals stored away from food
  • Outdated products safely disposed
  • Flammables kept away from heat

Exterior

  • Able to get in/out of front door safely
  • Able to get in/out rear door
  • Able to retrieve mail/newspapers
  • Ramp available, if needed
  • Stairs safe and in good repair
  • Railing on stairs
  • Proper lighting
  • Snow/ice removal, when needed

Bathroom 

  • Able to get into bathroom
  • Able to turn on light
  • Able to get on/off commode
  • Able to safely transfer in/out of tub or shower
  • Able to use faucets
  • Soap available
  • Safe use of transfer bench
  • Night light, if needed
  • Grab bars available and secure
  • Raised toilet seat, if needed
  • Non-slip mat or strips in tub or shower
  • Proper disposal of soiled incontinence pads
  • Adequate cleaning/sanitizing

Kitchen 

  • Adequate food storage
  • Able to recognize if stove/oven is on
  • Able to feel heat
  • Fire extinguisher available
  • Smoke detectors present and working
  • Able to prepare meal
  • Able to operate microwave
  • Able to get groceries
  • Frequently used items within reach

Pet Care

  • Pets safe underfoot
  • Able to feed pets
  • Able to let pet outside
  • Able to change litter box
  • Able to provide pet adequate exercise

Bedroom 

  • Able to get in and out of bed
  • Room for hospital bed, if needed
  • Light accessible
  • Phone accessible from bed
  • Emergency alert system accessible from bed
  • Adequate heat
  • Bedside commode
  • Flashlight available
  • Night light, if needed

Mobility

  • Absence of falls
  • Balance stable
  • Able to maneuver assistive device
  • Activity tolerance
  • Shoes are safe and comfortable

Communication

  • Able to utilize telephone
  • Emergency response system available
  • Able to use system
  • Can call for help in emergency
  • Able to exit in emergency
  • Able to clearly communicate needs
  • Able to hear alarms

Personal Safety 

  • Safe clothing for ambulation and circulation
  • Wears shoes or non-skid socks inside
  • Able to self-manage medications
  • Safe storage of medications
  • Able to manage thermostat
  • Able to verbalize and enact emergency plan

Oxygen Care

  • No smoking around oxygen
  • Able to safely change/refill tanks, as needed
  • Tubing does not obstruct safe ambulation