• April 21, 2013
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Senior Drivers: Paving The Way For A Smooth Ride With The Beyond Driving With Dignity Program

If I were to rank the most pressing concerns family members have of their aging parents, driving would be near the very top. And of all conversations caregivers have with their parents, what’s become known as the “taking the keys away” talk is the most dreaded, even more than talking about their finances, or the need for some personal assistance.

Yes, having the driving talk is very difficult, (you can refer to a previous post I wrote "We Need To Talk" which offers some advice and recommendations for readings on how to approach these uncomfortable and sensitive talks) but trust me, actually doing something about it is even more difficult. 

In another recent post, I provided information on programs and resources for Senior Driver Safety. I liked one of the programs, Beyond Driving with Dignity, so much that I became a Certified Instructor so that I could offer it to Seniority Matters users.

What differentiates this program from others is that it's a personal self-assessment that's designed to help the older driver and their family members make the best decisions regarding their driving and keeping them safe.  The exercises in the program will help individuals recognize if and when it's time to stop driving.  This is so much preferable than having a family member "take away the keys."

This program can ideal for those who:

  • Live far from their loved ones and aren't sure of his or her ability to continue driving safely.
  • Need some help and direction plotting the future of of their loved-ones' safe driving career.
  • Don't know how to addresss the driving issue or initiate the driving talk.
  • Don't know what resources are available to you that can help them should they not be able to drive.
  • Want a skilled professional to help bring or maintain calm and stability to what can be a complex family issue
  • Want a program that will help your loved one's ability to remain safe on the road and to continue to monitor their skills as they age.

There are two ways to complete the program.  

A three hour in-home program facilitated by a certified instructor will provide you with acceptable alternatives, resources and a plan to ensure as easy a transition as possible from driving. And if the final recommendation is that your family member is a safe driver, you will be provided strategies on how to remain that way, and how to recognize changes in this status.

Alternatively you can use the "do-it-yourself" approach by using the "Beyond Driving with Dignity workbook which you can easily order. Either way, the program is administered in the privacy of your own home.  

To learn more about the different approaches, their costs, and how to arrange for them, please click here

  • May 17, 2013
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Getting Fit Without Getting Hurt

You're committed to getting in shape or to restarting a long-abandoned fitness routine. You jump into your workout with gusto. Oh oh ! The next thing you know, you're hurting. What happened? Usually, it's because you're doing the right activity with poor form, or too much for a newbie. Or, it could be that you have chosen the wrong activity for your body tor physical conditioning. Here are some things you can do to avoid getting injured.

  • Be realistic about your body's abilities: If you have knee problems, you don't want to do impact exercises like running or jumping rope. A good alternative would be a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer. If you have hip issues, you want to reconsider participating in that spinning class.
  • Hire a trainer: One of the best ways to avoid injury is to have at least a few sessions with a certified personal trainer. A trainer will teach you proper form (body alignment) for weight lifting, running and other exercises. The trainer will also aid in the appropriate progression of weights, exercises and rest periods. Make sure that your trainer is aware of your age (if you're over 50  it's best not to hire someone in their 20's).
  • Don't overdo it: The way to avoid repetitive stress injuries is to not do the same exercise over and over. Shin splints, tendonitis and long-term muscle soreness are often the result of overuse.
  • Give muscles adequate rest: If you do upper body one day, you could do lower body the next and maybe a cardio activity, abs and balance on the third. It's ok to workout every day, just give tired muscles time for rest and recovery. Warm-up, cool down and take it slow: You'll be less likely to get injured if you warm up first. You want a moderately paced cool-down after a workout so that blood doesn't pool in your extremities. Take it slow means "pace yourself."  So, if you're new to weight training, start with weights you can lift for 8 to 15 reps and don't do more than 3 sets. When that gets easy, you can gradually increase the weight and number of sets over time.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Stretch: Find some time in your day to stretch...it's like changing the oil in your car, only for your body!
  • June 20, 2013
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The Healthy Way To Boost Your Energy

It’s not unusual to feel lethargic once in a while, especially if you’ve had a poor night sleep, or you’ve been under a lot of stress. But if you’re finding that you can’t get out of first gear most days without a caffeinated beverage to pick you up, consider this advice from nutrition expert Keri Glassman, on how to boost your energy the healthy way.

Stay Hydrated

“People don’t realize that when they’re not hydrated properly, their energy is lower,” said Keri,  “Sometimes just staying hydrated is the key to feeling better.” She also recommends foods that are high in water volume, such as fruits and vegetables, that have the added benefit of keeping you full. And stick with water and herbal teas, she told me – not sodas or anything with artificial sweeteners.  

Eat Consistently Throughout The Day

Another way to maintain a high energy level is to start your day with a good breakfast and then eat consistently throughout the day. But don’t rely on low-nutrition, grab and go kind of food to get you through the day. “Eat real foods that aren’t going to give you a quick rush and then drop you off,” she explained. “Choose foods that are going to leave you balanced and satisfied. For example, a combination of protein and high fiber carbohydrates. Protein and fat will make you feel more satisfied and carbohydrates will give you more quick energy. But carbs that are loaded with fiber will give you a more steady flow of energy.” 

In addition to fruits and vegetables, examples of dietary fiber include beans and legumes, whole grains and nuts. For health snack suggestions, read Keri's recent blogpost, "Snack, Travel, Pop!"

 

Keri Glassman is a nationally recognized nutritionist and the author of The New You And Improved Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever.

  • July 08, 2013
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Silver Sneakers: Fitness And Fun For Older Adults And Seniors

Silver Sneakers is a fun exercise program designed specifically with older adults in mind. It offers a variety of exercise classes, such as: Muscular Strength and Range of Motion, Cardio Circuit to increase cardiovascular and muscular endurance, Cardio Fit...low impact aerobics combined with abdominal exercises and stretching and Yoga Stretch to increase flexibility.

A chair is offered for support in all these classes. There's also a Silver Splash aqua class in shallow water, designed to improve agility, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. Silver Sneakers also provides a fitness center membership to any participating location in the country, which includes (as well as access to the classes) , access to equipment, pool and sauna.

Every participating fitness center provides a Silver Sneakers program adviser to help you enroll and to familiarize you with the equipment.

Many health plans offer Silver Sneakers to people who are eligible for Medicare.

To find out more about this program, go to their website or call 888-423-4632. 

  • July 08, 2013
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Ten Tips For Traveling With Aging Relatives

It's inevitable that we develop some limitations as we age --so being prepared and taking them into consideration as you plan a vacation with an aging parent, grandparent, spouse or even for yourself, will make the trip easier and more enjoyable for the entire family.

Here are some tips that are often overlooked but that can make or break the vacation for seniors: 

  • Have them schedule a visit or speak with their primary care visit who can make sure they're fit for the type of vacation planned.
  • Make sure you purchase travel insurance. This is good for anyone, regardless of age. 
  • Make certain to pack their health insurance and Medicare card along with a detailed list of medications they take.
  • Bring a full supply of all their medications.
  • If traveling by plane, and if necessary, choose seats in the rows designated for "disabled" travelers and  arrange for wheelchair or cart service to and from the gates. 
  • If taking multiple flights, avoid short connecting times.
  • Make sure you're aware about the local conditions of where you're travelling. If the area has uneven cobblestone walkways, make sure you can arrange for transportion to key attractions. If the water is not drinkable, make sure you have bottled water. 
  • When making hotel accomodations inquire about any needs you may have, such as close proximity to an elevator if they use a cane or walker.
  • Use a money belt or a neck-cord wallet instead of a purse or wallet in the back pocket (which is good advice for anyone traveling).
  • And finally---always ask for Senior Discounts.
Below are links to travel websites that provide suggestions and tips for travelling with family members of all ages:
 
  • July 09, 2013
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Having Trouble Finding A Geriatric Physician For An Aging Relative?

Are you having trouble finding a geriatric physician for an aging relative? You're not alone. The paltry reimbursement fees that doctors are entitled to under medicare have made this much needed specialty a very unpopular field to be in. And it's getting worse.

A recent and provocative article by Judith Graham in the New Old Age Blog Walking Away From Medicare, describes one Geriatrician's decision to opt out of Medicare altogether. Instead she created a new kind of practice for older adults in which she conducts comprehensive assessments and evaluates care ordered by other doctors. Her fee? $200 an hour. 

Over 150 comments were posted and they were as interesting and informative as the article. Many criticized her for opting out of medicare and blamed our "for-profit minds" and medical system. Others gave her a "thumbs up" for taking action against a system that doesn’t work.

This story has really gnawed at me--- not because I blame her for “selling out”--- (I don’t think she has),  but because it just lays out in black and white that out-of-the-box solutions will benefit only those with money. And to me, this is very sad reality.

What do you think?

  • August 25, 2013
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Take A Stress Break With Online Guided Meditations

The physical act of meditation, sitting still and quieting the mind by focusing on your breath or a phrase, sounds so simple and delightful. But in a day full of email alerts and deadlines, surrounded by open offices at work, or obligations at home, it can be a challenge to come to a halt for even a few minutes.

But it’s worth trying because the benefits of meditation to our health are undisputed. Rodale cited six ways that we can all benefit from 15 minutes of meditation:

  1. It can improve your working memory and make you more productive
  2. It’s good for surly teenagers (and thus good for you, if you’re a a parent of one)
  3. It can lower your sensitivity to pain
  4. It will keep you happy
  5. By reducing stress, it will help your cardio-vascular system
  6. It will help with menopause symptoms like hot flashes 

Every January, I put “five minute daily meditation” at the top of my list of New Year resolutions but life happens and my good intentions fade away when my calendar begins filling up. That’s why I was excited to discover so many excellent online guided meditations. They really make it easy to squeeze in some decompression time during a busy day whether you’re working at your computer or tethered to your smart phone while you’re out and about. There are lots to choose from, but here are a few that I tried out and recommend:

I particularly liked the guided relaxation sessions at Calm.com. On the home page, you first select the amount of time you have for a “pause in your day;” then you’re instructed to choose your preferred nature scene, (I love the sight and sound of rain, but you might prefer a babbling brook, or breaking waves) and wear headphones if you have them. The female guide has a nice, soft voice that doesn’t compete with the relaxing sounds of nature that you’ve selected.

I also liked Stephen Cope’s Body Scan on You Tube. Cope is a psychotherapist and author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.  He’s on the staff at the beautiful Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where he is the executive director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living. (Their website offers several at home yoga classes too).

The Mayo Clinic offers a relaxing, five minute guided meditation on their website, with a virtual candle flame to gaze at.

Finally, you’re likely to find a meditation that suits you on the website of The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Included among the 15 different meditations is a thirteen minute body scan for sleep meditation and thirty-three minutes of Tibetan Singing Bowls with Michael Perricone, founder of Omstream.com, a website that offers “music that fits your moods.

  • August 25, 2013
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Tai Chi: A Great Way To Reduce Stress And Improve Balance

Tai Chi is a mind body practice that originated in ancient China and has been practiced for thousands of years. It began as a martial art and as it developed it became a method of enhancing physical and mental health.

Tai Chi is now popular in the West, and people all ages and physical conditions can learn it. It involves gentle movements, deep-breathing and moving meditation. It is low-impact, weight bearing and relaxing. It is thought to improve the flow of chi(energy) through the body, thus leading to numerous health benefits.

Some of these benefits are:

  • Better balance and increased strength
  • Less joint pain and stiffness for those who have osteoarthritis
  • Improved sleep quality  
  • Increased vitality
  • Better coordination
  • Greater awareness, calmness and a sense of well-being

To find a Tai Chi class near you go to their website. If you're in south Florida you can call 305-598-3959.

  • October 31, 2013
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Finally A Company That Can Answer Your Medicare Questions.

Does the word Medicare make you feel uneasy? If so, you can be sure you're not alone. With so much complicated information out there it’s so difficult to make informed choices for yourself or an aging relative. You will be happy to be rescued by 65 incorporated. The company, founded by recognized Medicare expert Diane Omdahl and marketing guru Melinda Caughill, has distilled the wealth of Medicare information to create this one-stop-shop for all Medicare needs. And what's more- is that we're thrilled to welcome them as the latest addition to the Seniority Matters Directory. 

The site is a treasure trove of information including videos and white papers, and their online store offers educational programs as well as consulting services on virtually any topic related to the Medicare program. Need to learn the Medicare basics? There’s information. Need to know how to enroll? No worries. Medicare drug plans and costs? It’s all here – even information on Medicare Advantage and Open Enrollment. The beauty is that they're not affiliated with any insurance company: they don't sell insurance nor do they make money from insurance companies or Medicare - They just provide unbiased “credible, correct, complete, and clear information. “

They’re list in  Seniority Matters Directory  and our users are raving. So our directory or their website for information.

Don’t be left scrambling for information. It’s all right there!

  • November 03, 2013
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Tis The Season For...Farmers Markets

We are entering the best time of the year in South Florida--- when the humidity goes away, and being outdoors feels great and invigorating. Have family or friends visiting? Looking for a productive outing?  Check out our list of local Farmers' Markets throughout South Florida and find the one closest to you.  We're always updating this list, so...

If there's a Farmers' Market that you go to that's not included below please comment below and let us know! 

Broward County

  • Southwest Ranches Farmers Market-5150 South Flamingo Road, Cooper City- Contact: Sheila @ 754-423-3786. 10am - 7pm everyday but Thursday- Click here to view their website
  • Miramar Green Market- Miramar Square, in parking lot near Kohl's- Every Saturday: 9am-1pm-Fresh food and family fun. Local produce, plats, herbs, cheeses and more!
  • The Yellow Green Farmer's Market-1940 North 30th Road, Hollywood-954-513-3990-Thursday: 7pm-11pm, Saturday and Sunday: 7am-4pm- This is the largest outdoor market in South Florida. They have a lot of organic foods and products and is open all year. Click to view their website. Follow them on twitter @ygfarmersmarket
  • Las Olas Outdoor Urban Gourmet Market- Las Olas Blvd and 12th Avenue- Fort Lauderdale-954-347-1474.Sundays: 9am-2pm- Fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods and more. Is open all year.
  • Plantation Community Farmer's Market- Plantation Volunteer Park-954-452-2558- Fresh certified organic vegetables and fruits, breads, orchids and more- Saturdays: 8am-2pm- For more information visit their website.
  • Marando Farms- 1401 SW First Avenue (Downtown Fort Lauderdale)- Saturday and Sunday: 9am - 4pm.
  • Parkland Farmers' Market- Equestrian Center-8350 Ranch Road- 954-757-4120- Sundays: 9am-2pm.
  • Pompano Beach Green Market-104 SW 1st Street (just east of City Hall)- 954-782-3015- Saturdays: 8am - 1pm

Miami-Dade County

  • Surfside/Bal Harbor/Bay Harbor Green Market- Location alternates between 1177 Kane Concourse (96th St.) in Bay harbor Island and Collins and 95th St in Surfside- Sundays: 9am-2pm. Fresh fruit and vegetables, tropical plants, baked goods and more. For more information click here to view last season's Miami Herald article about this market.
  • Pinecrest Market- Pinecrest Gardens Parking Lot @ 11100 Red Road- Every Sunday 9am-2pm. Fresh vegetables and fruit, homemade crafts, breads, plants and more- Lots of organic products.
  • Coconut Grove Organic Farmers' Market-3300 Grand Avenue-305-238-7744- Fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Market includes a raw food deli. Every Saturday (rain or shine) from 10am-2pm- Click here for website.
  • Homestead Harvest Farmers' Market @ Verde Gardens-12700 SW 280 Street- Local and organic foods plus sustainable produce and products, juice bar and more-786-427-4698-Fridays: 4pm-8pm. click here for website.
  • Key Biscayne Farmers Market: Located at the Community Church, this market offers a wide variety of fresh local and organic produce as well as a diverse selection of speciality items.  355 Glenridge Road. Call for schedule. 305-531-0038
  • Lincoln Road Farmers' Market- On Lincoln Road between Meridian and Washington Avenues. Fresh vegetables and fruits, jellies, jams and more-305-531-0038-Sundays:9am-6:30pm, year round. For more information visit their website.
  • Normany Village Marketplace- In the 900 block of 71st Street and Rue Vendome on Normandy Isle- Saturdays:9am -5pm-305-531-0038.
  • Mary Brickell Village Sunday Market- Mary Brickell Village in the 900 Block of South Miami Avenue-Saturdays:10am-4pm- 305-531-0038.
  • FIU Farmers Market, Maidque Campus (11200 SW 8th Street, Miami)- Wednesdays: 12noon - 3pm, between the Green Library and Central Fountain.
  • Roots in the City Farmers Market (beginning December, 2012)-  NW 10th Street and 2nd Avenue, Miami- Wednesday and Friday:1pm - 4pm.
  • Southwest Community Farmer's Market: Features outdoor market with organic local produce, artisan baked goods, local arts, community music, organic solar-powered jam and massage. Tropical Park 7900 SW 40th Street. 305-223-8710. Call for schedule.
  • Fairchild Farmers' Market: Located in Fairchild's lowlands parking. Stock up every Saturday (9am- 2pm) (excluding Festival weekends). Local vendors sell frest produce, honey, artisan products, handmade soaps, herb and vegetable plants, baked goods and so much more. 10900 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL

Palm Beach County

  • Boca Raton Green Market- Corner of S. Federal Highway and S. Mizner Blvd (Royal Palm Place Shopping Center)-Saturdays: 8am-1pm. Rain or Shine- Fresh produce and vegetables and more. Contact: 561-239-1536, or visit their website.
  • Wellington Green Market-12100 Forrest Blvd. Near the Amphitheater- Saturdays: 8am-1pm, now through April 12, 2012. This is a brand new Farmers' Market. For more information call 561-283-5886.
  • Delray Beach Green Market: SE 4th Street (1/2 Block south of Atlantic Avenue, downtown Delray Beach. Sundays 8am - 2pm. 
  • Lake Worth Farmers' Market (Waterside)- A1A and Lake Avenue. Park in lot behind John G's restaurant. Sells Palm Beach County fruits and vegetables as well as a large selection of organic products, plants, baked goods and more. Saturdays: 8am-1pm- Now through May, 2013 . 561-547-3100.
  • Sunset Green market at Glades Plaza: Located in the south parking lot of Glades Plaza (near Hooters), 2240 NE 19th Street, Boca Raton: Wednesdays: 4pm-8pm
  • Woolbright Farmers Market: 141 West Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach- Fresh local and organically grown fruits and vegetables. Open all year-Tuesday thru Saturday: 8am-6pm. Contact: Jesse @ 561-722-2454 or visit their website.
  • Palm Beach Gardens Green Market: 4301 Burns Road. Sundays, 8am -1pm.  561-630-1100.
  • West Palm Beach Green Market: 101 South Flagler Drive (downtown at Clematis Street and Flagler Drive at Waterfront Park). Saturdays 8am - 1pm.
  • November 25, 2013
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Exercising Over The Holiday Season

It's no wonder that people complain about gaining weight over the holiday season. Between holiday parties with lots of rich food and alcohol, and the loss of normal routines caused by travel and family reunions, the exercise schedule seems to just fall apart. But it really doesn't have to be that way.

You can always get some exercise during the holidays! When I first wanted to start running, but couldn't find the time, a runner gave me some great advice. She said, "Get up an hour earlier!" I took her advice and ran for the next 20 years. So, if you're attending lots of parties this season, just remember that you still have to get up in the morning for your workout.

There are many exercises you can do even while travelling. Click here to view my previous blogpost "Exercise While You Travel...Literally." As a preview, when travelling, try walking the airports before flights.

Once you're in your destination city, you can always do some resistance training (wherever you're staying) by using your own body weight. There are so many exercises you can do that don't require any equipment. For example: do some push ups and dips for upper body, squats and walking lunges for lower body and sit ups for abs.

If you're hosting house guests, you can still get a workout in by encouraging them to join you. There's always someone in my family willing to take a walk with me. Now that there are young children in the mix, I know that we'll spend a lot of time in the pool or on the beach playing. You can do the same and have fun too, at least for a little while.

We're having a week-long family reunion over Thanksgiving, when my brother comes from Australia,  We'll be taking lots of walks, swimming and paddle boarding. Since I carry weights and equipment in my car, I'll be lifting in my motel room.

Wishing you all a fit and healthy holiday season!

  • December 04, 2013
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The Time To Talk Is Now

Remember all those times your parents sat you down for “a talk?” Well, now it’s your turn. You can’t have an “emergency” plan for those daunting life-or-death issues unless you know what your parents do - and do not - want regarding their health care. Do they want a DNR order? How about a feeding tube? Are they comfortable going to hospice?  Do they want to remain at home? These aren’t easy questions. But hey, do you think they were comfortable talking to you about sex? It’s just one of those things that has to be done. And, like most things in life, timing is everything, This is not a conversation to initiate during a Mother's Day or Father's Day celebration or during a Thanksgiving meal.

Find a quiet moment for what is bound to be an emotional chat. Make sure you are prepared, and start slowly. Don’t try to cover all issues at once. It takes time. Figure out an easy way to broach the topic. (My friend had an experience that got me thinking….my insurance agent asked me questions about my long term needs that I had never thought of...remember so and so, well they’re in an Assisted Living Community now…or simply, we really need to talk)

Need more guidance? Peruse Jane Gross' book "A Bittersweet Season: Caring For Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves", or David Solie’s "How To Say It To Seniors." 

It’s essential to have a list of the issues - and make sure your siblings are included (you do not want to take this on yourself, even if you are Mom’s favorite). Be empathetic - you may not agree with their wishes but remember, it’s their life. Parents fear losing control and their independence while children are hesitant to open a Pandora’s box. So it’s crucial that they don’t think you are trying to take over their lives.

Explain your motivation for the discussion (perhaps you’re concerned for their physical safety or want to make sure that they aren’t being financially scammed). Having these conversations and being prepared will make the care giving journey so much easier for everyone.

Talking to your parents in advance of a crisis - when they are able to communicate their desires and thoughts in a relaxed setting will result in better outcomes both for them and the rest of the family.

You may be surprised - your parents may have wanted to broach the subject, but didn’t want to worry you. And, sometimes just talking about things makes you feel a whole lot better.

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