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Surround Yourself with a Tribe of Care Companions

a tribe of care companion

“Just call me if you need anything.”

These are kind words backed by good intentions, but when you are an older adult living on your own – or a caregiver – these words can evoke frustration. It puts the burden on you to call, text or email your friend or family member with specific requests when you are not sure what they are willing to do or if they have the time to help. Quite frankly, you may not have time to reach out to them when you need someone to drive you to the doctor or pick up a few items at the grocery store. Thus, you end up doing it yourself.

There is no denying that family members and friends are at the center of your care circle, the group of people you surround yourself with to provide support as you care for an aging parent or as you grow older. They are there for emotional and physical support and to help in a pinch. A care circle is meant to expand as your needs grow. You are not expected to have all of the answers or even find all of the answers on your own. There are numerous organizations and trained professionals who can step in to help shoulder the load, particularly if your family is small, distant and/or juggling several responsibilities.

The number of assistance programs for seniors and their caregivers is impressive but tracking them down yourself can be overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of six essential resources to add to your care circle so that you lead a well-rounded and active life.

ONE SEARCH = THOUSANDS OF BENEFITS

Did you know there are 2,500-plus benefits programs available to seniors in the U.S.? It would be an overwhelming task to hunt them down, one by one. Fortunately, the National Council on Aging has dramatically simplified the search process with its web-based Benefits Checkup search service – www.benefitscheckup.org   

Navigate to the website, type in your zip code and search results will appear for programs in your area, including:

  • Prescription drugs
    • In-home services
    • Transportation
    • Housing
    • Healthcare
    • Financial assistance
    • Legal aid
    • Energy/utility assistance
    • Nutrition (including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP)/Food Stamps)

Using this service is a no-brainer. More than 8 million seniors have discovered $31 billion-plus in benefits through the Benefits Checkup service, according to the National Council on Aging, a nonprofit advocacy and service organization that focuses on joining the efforts of government, businesses and nonprofit organizations to improve the lives of our older adults.

HOME CARE SERVICES: HELP WITH YOUR “TO DO” LIST

There are times when you simply cannot juggle all of the items on your daily “To Do” list. There is no shame in reaching out to organizations that have resources in place to help you with housekeeping, errands and transportation services.  It would be a shame NOT to take advantage of these helping hands!

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging operates the Eldercare Locator service five days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to connect you with local service providers that can help with a ride to the doctor, a trip to the grocery store, chores around the house, meal deliveries and more. You can reach an information specialist at the Eldercare Locator service in a variety of ways:  

Similarly, the Eldercare Directory is an organization that has compiled extensive information about services available to seniors and caregivers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You can use the online search tool to find certified in-home care, home health, home nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, and medical social services in your area. An added benefit is that Eldercare Directory shares unbiased ratings and client reviews for each service so that you can refer to those when making service provider selections.

CALL COMPANION SERVICES: MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS

We all enjoy our space, but we also have a deep need for companionship. If you are one of the approximately 16 million senior citizens in the U.S. living alone, there are times that you may feel lonely and/or isolated. You are not alone. Caregivers can step in to bridge the gap, but no one person can meet all of another’s needs.

Positive interpersonal communication and meaningful human connection have consistently proven to play a role in the vitality of people’s lives. Simply put, we all yearn for engaging and lively conversation. We all want to feel connected and to be heard. A call companion service steps up to supplement a caregiver’s role. They are there to listen to your incredible stories, share life experiences and check to make sure you are feeling good, taking your medication and that you are comfortable in your home.

Companion Matters offers a variety of call service packages that you can sign up for based on your needs. There are 13 different plans, ranging from twice-daily call services to weekly check-in calls. You are paired with call companions that share your interests so that you enjoy conversing and look forward to touching base with each other.

LEGAL SERVICES: GET HELP WITH THE DETAILS

Delving into legal documents can be both intimidating and mind-numbing, but it is a necessary evil, particularly when you are preparing wills, powers of attorney and advanced directives. If you do not have an attorney in the family, finding one can also be an intimidating prospect.

The first step you as a caregiver or senior can take is to get the facts about what an elder law attorney can do for you.  AginginPlace.org is an excellent resource for information, including:

An equally important responsibility is the protection of your (or your family member’s) rights as an older adult. In our modern world, there are, unfortunately, individuals and companies that thrive on devising scams that target seniors. We must make it our mission to speak and act against those who perpetrate these crimes. Helpful resources to utilize include:

Caregivers can also download helpful brochures here with tips on how to deal with conversations about legal, financial, medical and other sensitive subjects.

FINANCIAL SERVICES: NAVIGATING YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

Retirement planning continues well after retirement! Gone are the days when a family provider retired with a pension that all but guaranteed several years of a comfortable retirement for his or her family. Caregivers and seniors alike face retirement realities that may be a bit tricky, so it pays to know where to turn when you need additional resources or programs that supplement your finances.

The U.S. government’s official benefits website provides information on more than 1,000 benefits and assistance programs that you or your parent may be eligible for, including retirement and Social Security. If you have questions about an existing pension or want to see if there are pensions you “lost” or forgot, The Pension Rights Center is a good source of information. 

When it comes to tax preparation, senior adults can utilize free tax preparation and filing services, including:

  • HEALTHCARE SERVICES: GUARD YOUR WELL-BEING

Every life stage brings its joys and challenges. Exercise and healthy eating can pave the way for remaining active in your later years, but that does not eliminate physical changes that go hand-in-hand with the natural aging process.

It makes sense to align yourself with physicians who specialize in senior (geriatric) medical care. Important qualities to look for in a primary care physician include:

  • Substantial experience with conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and depression;
  • A good reputation for prescribing appropriate medications and managing the interactive effects of medications on seniors;
  • A wealth of knowledge about home health services and when to use them;
  • Recommendations for regular screening tests (mammograms, bone density tests, stress tests, etc.) at appropriate intervals; and,
  • Suggestions for appropriate fitness and meal plans for seniors.

Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and/or insurance provider can point you in the right direction. Other organizations that can help you find a doctor include:

Health insurance in general – and the Medicare program in particular – is a complex and confusing subject. With 10,000 people celebrating their 65th birthday each day in the U.S., the need for accurate and clear information about Medicare is at an all-time high. There are solid resources available – just a few clicks away – through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which helps you locate the state agency that can provide you answers about your Medicare coverage. You can also download the “Medicare & You” handbook as an additional guide to use while you are navigating murky Medicare insurance waters.

Boredom Busters: Fun Activities For Seniors to Try This Summer

activities for seniors

Staying active year-round is an essential part of maintaining good health for everyone, but especially for seniors. Regular exercise has numerous benefits for seniors. It helps maintain muscle mass and joint health. It releases endorphins, which can help prevent or treat depression. Exercise also increases balance and stability, which can help prevent falls and injuries. 

Now that summer is here, seniors have even more options for fun and engaging exercise. If you’re looking for activities for seniors this summer, read on!

1. Go for a Walk or Roll Outside

Walking is one of the easiest activities that seniors can engage in. It’s low impact, it’s good for the joints, and it improves cardiac function. After a winter of mall walking, seniors will be excited to head outside! So head to your local park or easy hiking trail and get moving. 

For seniors who need assistance with mobility, getting outside for a “roll,” either in a wheelchair or with a walker, is still a fun activity with multiple health benefits. The fresh air will improve lung and cardiac function and a healthy dose of Vitamin D helps with mental health. 

2. Plant a Seed

Many seniors love to garden. Planting something and caring for it until its full-grown gives a deep sense of accomplishment, which is important for mental health. And all that digging, watering, and weed pulling is actually great, easy exercise for seniors. Even those with low mobility can help out in the garden with the help of a good stool or seat.

If seniors are still at home, they may have their own garden to maintain. If they’re in a retirement home, assisting with the gardens on the grounds is a great option. If there are no gardens accessible where they are living, seniors can be brought to a community garden, where they can share a plot with friends or family so they’re not solely responsible for its care.

3. Go for a Swim

Swimming is one of the best and most accessible forms of exercise for seniors. Those who need lots of mobility assistance on the ground can usually move around the pool with ease. And particularly active seniors love the challenge of swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class.

For seniors who’ve been heading to an indoor pool all winter, heading to an outdoor community pool or even the beach is an exciting outing. Remember that the sand at the beach may be challenging for seniors with mobility issues or joint problems. Community pools are particularly accessible for seniors of all activity levels.

4. Volunteer With a Furry Friend

Volunteering is a great way for seniors to be an active part of of their communities. Volunteerism also gives a sense of accomplishment and competence that is essential to seniors’ mental health.

To combine volunteerism and exercise, seniors can head to a local animal shelter and offer to walk or play with the dogs living in the shelter. Many shelters struggle to give every dog in their care the exercise and one on one attention they need, so they’re usually more than happy to let volunteers take the dogs for a short walk around the grounds. 

Shelters usually have a playroom where dogs can run around in as well, so seniors who are less mobile can get some low-impact play in with a furry friend.

5. Head to the Farmer’s Market

Summer is the season for local Farmer’s Markets and these events are a perfect opportunity for seniors to combine a good walk and some shopping. The benefit of walking at the Farmer’s Market is that everyone can walk at their own pace because they’re browsing the booths. Those who want to get their heart rate up can take a few vigorous laps around the market before shopping, while those who want to take it slower can leisurely browse from booth to booth.

The Farmer’s Market also provides seniors with the opportunity to purchase healthy foods that they can prepare for themselves or with the help of their caregivers. 

6. Take a Tour of Your City

For many seniors, it’s been a while since they explored the sights of their own city. Many cities offer walking tours that are accessible for all activity levels. Some cities also offer Segue tours, which allows seniors to get around a little easier.

For especially active seniors, a lot of cities offer biking tours. Seniors need not own a bike to participate; bikes can usually be rented through the tour company.

For seniors with mobility issues, a self-guided tour with a caregiver pushing them is a great option. Many cities also offer open-air bus or boat tours, which allows seniors with mobility issues to get some fresh air and soak up the sun.

7. Go Berry-Picking

Summer is the season for all sorts of delicious berries. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all in season at different times throughout the summer. Heading to a farm that offers a pick your own berries option is a great way to get seniors outside and moving.

Berry picking can be done at a slow pace so everyone can participate. And there’s the added benefit of getting fresh fruit when they’re done!

Remember that depending on the berry, picking can require a fair amount of bending, which may not be appropriate for all seniors. For seniors who cannot bend easily, waiting for blueberries to be in season is a great idea since they grow on taller bushes. 

The Best Summer Activities for Seniors

These are only a few ideas of summer activities for seniors that can keep them both active and mentally engaged. The ability to get outside, breathe the fresh air, and soak up the sun has health benefits for every senior, regardless of their ability to be active and mobile.

For more ideas on how to help seniors get and stay active during the summer, connect with one of our companions today

Why Is Walking a Good Exercise for Seniors to Do Daily?

is walking a good exercise

Rates of obesity and heart disease have dramatically increased in the last few decades. In fact, the CDC has reported that heart disease now accounts for 25% of deaths in the United States.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to prevent and reverse the risk of heart disease and other terminal illnesses. In addition to having a balanced, low-cholesterol diet, regular exercise is the key to living a long and healthy life.

But hitting the gym or going for rigorous runs every day isn’t realistic for certain segments of the population – especially seniors. So what’s the best way for seniors to get in their daily exercise? It’s as simple as walking.  

Is walking a good exercise? Absolutely. A daily walk is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. Why is walking especially good for seniors? Keep reading to learn more. 

Is Walking a Good Exercise?

Some people are under the impression that walking isn’t as beneficial as running or breaking a sweat in the gym. But studies have proven time and again that walking is one of the best exercises there is. 

The Harvard Health journal has found that walking regularly can improve heart health by drastically lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

And that’s not all. Numerous studies across the board have concluded that regular walking is the best exercise for seniors, not only because it’s achievable and realistic compared to some other forms of exercise. 

The most important thing for overall health is to get moving. But for some seniors, exercise is difficult to do arthritis, joint and back pain, COPD or other ailments.

In this case, walking is a great option because it is a low impact exercise that can feasibly be performed over longer periods of time. 

You don’t have to run a marathon or throw your back out lifting weights to reap the benefits of exercise. Even a short walk every day has a huge positive impact on overall health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. 

Physical Benefits of Walking

As mentioned earlier, walking regularly has been scientifically proven to lower the risk of heart disease. Because it increases blood flow to the brain, over extended periods of time it can significantly improve cardiac health. 

Going for a brisk walk once a day can also improve symptoms caused by kidney disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers. 

Walking at any speed reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis as it improves the strength and durability of muscles and bones. It also boosts the immune system and blood circulation. 

Because walking is a lower impact exercise, it won’t cause the lungs to overexert themselves. In cases of COPD and other lung-related problems, walking even short distances daily can reduce the chances of hospitalization. 

Not only does regular walking help with reducing the risk of potentially fatal diseases, but it also helps to control and manage weight.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart failure, and walking can help with weight loss while at the same time improve heart health. 

Mental Benefits of Walking

If the physical benefits aren’t enough to sell you, walking has numerous mental benefits as well. Psychologists have found that walking, especially in nature, can improve depression and anxiety. 

There’s something about walking in nature that stops the brain from focusing on negative thoughts. Worry goes out the window as soon as you start moving around and breathing fresh air. 

And this alleviation of depression and anxiety leads to a better overall mood and can significantly improve self-image. And depression, anxiety, and mood aren’t the only things impacted. 

Studies have found that frequent walking is also linked to improved memory. The increased blood flow to the brain can prevent and slow down the deterioration of the brain’s tissue in older age, which can improve cognitive ability.

This improvement in cognitive ability can even prevent and slow down the symptoms of dementia. Studies have found that sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease who took four 30-minute walks a week experienced improved memory. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of highly intense exercise weekly for healthy adults to achieve optimum health. 

While this might seem like a lot, studies have found that even a fraction of that amount can have a huge positive impact. Experts agree that a little exercise is better than none at all

Inactivity is the silent killer. Getting up and going for a light walk for even just fifteen minutes a day is an attainable, enjoyable activity that will only have a positive impact. There is no downside, whatsoever. 

As we age, all sorts of things happen to our body to limit the type of activity we can safely partake in. But there are very few excuses that should keep seniors from getting out for a daily walk.

Canes, walkers and having a companion come along with you for company and safety are all within the realm of possibility. Sitting still is more dangerous than any risks related to getting moving. 

For optimum health, the recommended number of steps per day is 10,000. But there’s no rush to get there. Start small at 1,000 per day and add more as you get more comfortable.

Even if you never hit 10,000 steps per day or 150 minutes per week, any progress you make toward that goal will do you good in the long run. 

The Bottom Line

It’s never too late to add exercise into your daily routine. If joint or back pain is stopping you, remember that going for a daily walk will only help to reduce those pains that are holding you back. 

Walking regularly won’t only improve your mental health, reduce pain and lower the risk of chronic disease, it can be the number one secret to living a longer, healthier life. 

Because walking is low impact, easy, free and does not require rigorous training of any kind, it is considered to be the best exercise for aging adults and seniors. 

So, is walking a good exercise? The answer is an emphatic yes. Check out our services that help seniors live a happy, fulfilling life. 

The Best Diet For Seniors: 10 Superfoods to Boost Seniors’ Health

best diet for seniors

Health problems are at epidemic levels right now, with close to 90 million people in the United States have some form of cardiovascular disease. 

These problems exacerbate with age if you fail to get them in check. About 70 percent of people 60 years old and up have some form of heart disease, while a staggering 85 percent of people 80 and up have some form of heart disease.  

So what can you do to get your heart healthy, and to take care of your health as a whole?

There are some great superfoods that will be incredibly important. 

As you age, it’s important that you look into building your social health, mental health, and overall wellness. With this in mind, nutrition is a huge piece of the puzzle. 

Read on to learn the best diet for seniors. 

1. Hemp Seeds

With the cannabis industry taking off, a lot more research is being done into the nature of this plant and what sorts of wonderful holistic health benefits it has. 

In this regard, hemp seeds are foods that you will want to include in your diet on a regular basis. 

These seeds are wonderful for you because they are dense in omega 3 fatty acids. They provide a rich source of protein that allows you to have energy, excellent brain function, and muscle tone. Hemp seeds are also high in fiber, which allows you to get better digestive health. 

You can toss handfuls of these seeds into your salad, oatmeal or smoothies, so it doesn’t take much to add to your life. 

2. Acai Berry

Since you need to be concerned about your heart health, you can’t go wrong adding acai to your life. 

By eating these berries regularly, you will be better able to get your cholesterol levels in order, so you can be at a much lower risk for stroke and heart attack as you get older. 

They’ll also give you a dense boost of energy to get through your day, and since they’re rich in fiber, they’ll break down slowly to really provide you with fuel. 

3. Dark Chocolate

Yes, believe it or not, chocolate makes the list as a superfood. 

It’s rich in antioxidants and feeds your brain positive chemicals that can enhance your mood. However, it’s important that you buy dark chocolate that is pure and without added sugar, rather than most of the mass-produced chocolate you’ll find in the grocery store. 

Dark chocolate also gives you a nice boost of caffeine that will help you to avoid the crash that comes with the ebbs and flow of a day. 

4. Walnuts

Walnuts are excellent for brain health, which is important since so many elderly people deal with cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimers. 

These nuts are high in positive fats and are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. It also provides you with plenty of calories and fiber so that you can fill full from nutritious food, rather than filling up on junk. 

It will also improve blood flow in your body so that you are able to have a healthy and strong heart. 

5. Avocados

Avocados are definitely a superfood that will help you with your digestion and your health as a whole. 

These avocados are great for your hair, skin, and nails, and will provide your body with healthy fats. It accomplishes this by improving your blood flow, particularly to your brain. 

These fruits will, quite literally, keep you young, so that you can age gracefully and with health at the forefront. 

6. Kale

You absolutely need your leafy green vegetables if you want your health to improve. 

In this regard, it doesn’t get much better than kale. Kale is very much a superfood, in that it is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. 

You will be able to beat arthritis and improve your brain function by eating kale on a regular basis. Fix yourself a delicious salad and make sure that you put some kale into your smoothies. 

7. Lentils

As you can probably tell by now, blood flow is an incredibly important part of health. 

Lentils offer you some of the best blood flow you’ll find from any food, mainly because they are packed with L-Arginine, an amino acid that dilates the blood vessels. You can cook lentils up any way that you’d like and can play around with different spices and marinades. 

8. Blackberries

In the world of fruits, blackberries are some of the most nutrient-dense foods that you can eat. 

Blackberries have an incredible amount of Vitamin C, and also provide much-needed manganese, and are great for your dental health. Since blackberries are anti-oxidant rich, you will be able to retain a youthful look when you eat them on a regular basis. 

9. Spinach

When it comes to leafy green vegetables, spinach is essential. 

By eating spinach each day, you will get plenty of protein and can stabilize your blood sugar levels. It’s a low-calorie vegetable that is great for your skin and is packed with iron and healthy minerals. 

10. Water

While it’s not a food, this list isn’t complete without the most essential material on earth — water. 

Being chronically dehydrated will take its toll on your health and strip your body of its resources. Drinking the cleanest water you can, and take in plenty each day. 

The Best Diet For Seniors

You can enjoy the best diet for seniors when you consider these points. By doing this, your health will be better for it and you’ll enjoy a higher quality of life. 

If you’d like to learn more about elderly companions and other forms of care, contact us online or give us a call at 713-331-0172.

4 Ways to Increase Your Social Health as You Age

social health

 Although you don’t always feel it, the truth is that you’re getting a bit older. Maybe you’ve recently retired, started to slow down, or even need some assistance with your day-to-day activities.

Of course, your family is there to help you, but you also want to make sure that you stay socially active on your home.

So, what can you do to improve your social health and your life as a senior

In this post, we’ll fill you in on some of the best ways to keep your social health strong as you get a bit older.

From getting active on social media to working with a companion caller, follow these tips to continue to thrive.

1. Take a Class or Join a Club

Perhaps one of the most popular social health examples is to sign up for a class that allows you to pursue a new hobby.

Always wanted to learn how to make pottery, knit a cute hat for your grandkids, or even get some physical exercise by enrolling in pilates or yoga class?

Now is the time to do it.

You could also try taking a creative writing class to help you develop your memoirs, take a course in a foreign language, enroll in a computer class, or even sign up for a business course so that you can turn your passion into something that helps you to make a profit.

Not only will taking these classes help to keep your mind sharp, but it will also allow you to meet and interact with new people.

You could also look for local clubs and societies to join that are specifically geared towards seniors. These clubs help you to arrange evenings out at the theatre, small vacations, dinner parties, book clubs, and much more.

Surround yourself with people who want to get the most out of life and try new experiences as often as possible.

Even if the activities don’t sound like something you’d normally enjoy, take a risk and try it. You may be surprised by the passions you can discover later on in life!

2. Create Social Media Accounts

Especially if you have limited mobility, you may not always be able to make the trips to see your family or meet up with friends. This feeling of isolation can sometimes seriously impact your overall social health.

However, there are awesome ways that you can always stay connected with them: by creating accounts on social media.

Want to see pictures of your grandson’s soccer game? Interested in catching a video clip of your granddaughter getting ready for prom? Want to share your opinions or update the people you love the most about what you’re up to? Ready to reconnect with old friends from college or high school?

Social media can make all of that happen — and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home.

Plus, your kids and grandkids will definitely be impressed with your techno-savviness. Click here to access a straightforward step-by-step guide to how to create your Facebook account.

3. Volunteer For a Cause You Care About

Learning how to be socially healthy as you age isn’t just about keeping yourself busy and active — it’s also about giving back, becoming an active part of your community, and allowing other people to benefit from your passions and skillset.

If you’ve retired, you may find yourself missing the challenges and fast pace of the working world and you still have a lot to give.

That’s why it’s such an awesome idea to become a volunteer.

If you love to cook, sign up to bring meals to your local soup kitchen. If you were a teacher, volunteer to tutor underserved children in reading, writing, or even SAT prep.

You can work in your neighborhood garden, sign up to entertain other seniors, or even volunteer to take care of animals at your local ASPCA.

4. Connect with a Companion Service

If your family lives far away from you, it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated as you age.

You miss having someone to talk to, share stories with, or even just play board or card games with.

Plus, you know that staying socially active has been proven to help keep your memory strong, and most importantly of all, keep your mood and spirits high.

Even if your family and friends live close by, they often have hectic lives, jobs, and children to take care of. thus leaving them spread very thin.

A great idea may be to consider working with a companion calling service.

These companions can call daily or once a week to spend time with you and chat, do wellness check-ins and assist with medication compliance, and just help to make sure you have everything you need.

You’ll love sharing stories with a companion, and hearing about what’s going on in their lives, as well. After all, you’re never too old to make a new friend.

Increase Your Social Health with These Tips

As we hope you’ve learned from this post, there is no shortage of ways to keep your social health thriving as you get older.

Whether you decide to take a class, join a club, or become an Instagram celebrity, it’s important that you make time every day to be social in some way.

Are you interested in hiring a companion to call you and chat with you? We want to provide you with someone you can talk to, who helps make sure you have everything you need, and who will listen to whatever is on your mind.

Learn more about how we match you with the perfect caller here, and reach out to us to get started on finding the right companion.