What You Don’t Know About Medicare Open Enrollment Can Cost You

docwithpatientsmallMikol and I wish you well from AgingParents.com.
As you’re probably seeing ads on TV or getting solicitations in the mail about Medicare plans, here are a few things you should know if you, your aging parents or a family member have Medicare or are about to become eligible soon.
 
There is a lot of competition to get your Medicare dollars and your money for the supplemental plans most people buy. Medicare only pays 80% of covered medical expenses so most people buy a supplemental plan.  Some insurers put both together and offer you an all-in one thing:  basic Medicare, a supplemental component and a prescription drug component together.   
 
Every insurer out there will try to get you to think their all in one plan is better than someone else’s.
The nonprofit organization, National Council on Aging offers a free educational service for those boomers just getting ready to enroll in Medicare, and for those already receiving it who want to avoid making mistakes. It’s called My Medicare Matters. Open enrollment started October 15. That means if you want to start the benefit or want to change plans, now is the time.
 
It’s always difficult for an ordinary person who isn’t experienced in comparing insurance plans to figure out what to do. If you already have Medicare, should you change?  If you are just getting started and are being besieged with sales hype about various plans (they’ve got your number!) it can be confusing.  I face this myself now.  Should I get out of the Medicare Advantage plan I have?   
 
A deciding factor for me came from working with a 66 year old client who has traditional Medicare. She lives in suburban San Francisco and recently left a nursing home, following a very long stay after a stroke.  I was helping her very overwhelmed adult daughter look for a doctor for her outside the nursing home.  Her former doctor retired. The nursing home discharge person, who could have done a far better job, had no doctor recommendations.  I researched the area on the net. Only one out of 8 offices I called would take traditional Medicare and would accept a new patient.  That’s awful!  My client had to make a trip to the ER after she got out of the nursing home and the doctor there gave her a list of suggested doctors she could see for follow up. Not a single one of them would take a new Medicare patient! This is reality.  Doctors don’t necessarily want to accept traditional Medicare. They make less money on Medicare patients than they used to do. 
 
Insurers have negotiated rates to make it more profitable for the insurer when the patient is in a  Medicare Advantage plan (all in one, Parts A & B as well as D for prescription drugs), and they will switch off covering certain things that are a greater risk to them. When they drop coverage for something you need, you pay out of pocket for it.  Insurers now must offer at least as good coverage in a Medicare Advantage plan as one would get with traditional Medicare. All must also offer certain preventive care services now under the Affordable Care Act, which does help seniors.  Don’t fall for the hype that preventive care is particular or some big deal if you go with any particular insurer. Every Medicare plan is required to offer this benefit of basic preventive care.
 
I just know seeing the struggle my client had to even get a doctor at all made me want to stick to what I’ve got. I’m a low use kind of person, with no medications to worry about having to cover. Medication coverage is a very important item for most people looking for the best plan. You need to start with that. What do you take and what medications does the plan you have cover?
 
The NCOA offers tips on how to choose what’s right for you.  They tell us it’s a big mistake to not re-evaluate your coverage every year.  From My Medicare Matters, here are some questions they suggest you ask yourself:
  • Has your health changed in the last year?
  • Is your current plan still meeting all of your health needs?
  • How much have you paid out of pocket in the last year and for what?
  • Is your plan changing in the coming year?  How will that affect your out of pocket costs?
  • Are there better options available to you?
If your doctor is on your plan now, it doesn’t mean the same will be true in the coming year.  If all the medications you take  are now covered now, they may not all be on the approved list your insurer creates for the coming year. They have to inform you about changes, and you need to really pay attention to that.  Research shows that the average consumer could save $300 or more annually if they review their Part D (medication coverage) annually.  In other words, it can pay to switch.
 
Here at AgingParents.com  I meet adult children who are worried about having to step in and provide financial support for parents whose limited or fixed income does not allow for big changes in out of pocket medical expenses.  If you’re in that category, it will be worth your while to take a good look at your aging parent’s Medicare coverage, now that it’s open enrollment  time once again.  Failure to do so could come back to bite you. If their plan has dropped coverage for an expensive drug they need, will they ask you to pay for it?  Take the time and help out.  Use the resources available such as My Medicare Matters or other benefits counseling services in your loved ones’ community. Free advice is generally available to help you.
 
Until next time,

Would You Immediately Recognize These Elder Abuse Hidden Scams?

Most days at I get a call from an adult child of an elder, asking me about shady dealings over a elderimageparent’s finances. Sometimes it’s the niece, grandson, or other family member the caller is worried about. Sometimes it’s the caller’s sibling whose actions are in question. And all the cases I hear about have something in common: red flags of elder abuse are present, but no one is taking any action to stop them.

For example, a 62 year old woman whose mother is 90 called and said she is worried because she lives at a distance from her mother and her niece who is caring for the mother won’t return her calls or emails. And she also told me that a step-brother is a stockbroker and has financial power of attorney over her mother.

That’s 2 red flags, and she was just warming up.
Most abusers are family members. Caregivers are next and professionals, like stockbrokers, lawyers, financial advisers and insurance brokers are next in line for frequency of abuse. I do all I can to educate and urge action by family members to stop abuse when it happens and when it’s suspected to get a closer look.

I recently saw a new publication from our government, designed to raise people’s awareness about financial abuse and what an agent should and should not do when acting as agent on a financial power of attorney document.

Elder abuse is a huge international problem, and it’s finally getting more attention from the Federal government, thanks in part to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They came out with an excellent free little booklet to help folks understand how to handle someone else’s money when they get appointed as a Power of Attorney. It’s called Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for agents under a power of attorney.

You can get it here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201310_cfpb_lay_fiduciary_guides_agents.pdf.

Here’s what I like about this booklet.

It’s clear. It tells you what you can and can’t do as an agent. If you’re interested in being honest, it gives your guidelines to keep it that way. On the other side of the question, unscrupulous agents use the paper as a license to steal. Unfortunately, no court is involved and no one is watching. They help themselves to an elder’s money, house, investments, and anything else of value and some seniors are left destitute. I believe that sometimes, education can help family members stop other family members from committing this abuse. They can also warn the elder who is living independently about the sneaky thieves who devise ways to get elders’ money that are not so obvious. The booklet warns about some common scams. Not everyone knows about these and they keep getting victims to give up money.

The booklet lists 10 scams. I’ve picked a few to reiterate here for you. Would you know about these if they were going on with your elder right now?

1. Relative in need. Someone pretending to be a family member or friend calls or emails and says they are in trouble and need the elder to wire money right away. And by the way, you don’t have to be frail and isolated to get one of these pitches. I got one myself recently. Someone had hijacked my sister’s email address and sent emails to all of her like named contacts asking to wire money to her in a foreign country. Didn’t work with me, but it does get people to wire money to thieves. If no one fell for the scam they would stop, but it goes on.

2. Fake government funding. The recipient gets an official looking letter from a pretend government agency offering help with housing, home repairs, utilities or taxes. Just give them your credit card info and you get the help. Vulnerable and low income seniors fall for these scams because they are worried about the very things the ripoff artists offer them.

3. Home improvement. Targeted elders who own their homes (can be easily found in public records) are approached with an offer to fix something. It can be a roof, a fence or in my mother in law’s case it was to clean the air ducts. They take money in advance, overcharge and do shoddy work, or don’t do the work at all. The trusting elder doesn’t have a way to pursue them, as they disappear.

The booklet is 23 pages and has two pages of resources listed a the back. Among them are Adult Protective Services, and where to get free legal help for seniors. I think they did a fine job on this. Maybe that’s not the way I would comment on a lot of other confusing or poorly written government efforts at educating the public. And they don’t teach you this stuff in school. My hat’s off to the CFPB.

If you have an aging parent or other loved one, or you’re curious because your aging loved one put YOU on the documents that will one day cause you to have to handle their money, check out the booklet for yourself. I’m happy to share the good resource with you. Yep, your tax dollars at work.

Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt

Dr. Mikol Davis
AgingParents.com and AgingInvestor.com

My Mom just discovered the joys of ordering on Amazon

Just discovered the joys of shopping on Amazon

Just discovered the joys of shopping on Amazon


Can you believe my mother is turning 92 years young this week, August 24.

Do You Want To Live To Be 100?

Hello again

We are always fans of those who have figured out how to age well and we always want to learn a few things from them.  Here’s a fine example:

 
The Philadelphia Enquirer recently published a piece about Murray Shusterman, a 101 year old working Philadelphia lawyer who has been practicing law since 1936.  The article reports that “his mind is sharp, even if his hearing has dulled. His love for the law still shines.”

 
pmurrayHere’s what I gleaned about Mr. Shusterman’s long life.  He hasn’t set them out as instructions for us, but in studying how the oldest old who do well and remain independent there are features in common with most of them. Here’s a summary: 
 
1. The happiest and most productive centenarians are very engaged in life. They all have a record of past or current involvement in their communities.  For Murray, it was everything from serving as counsel to the Commission on Human Relations and helping write city laws on fair housing and employment to involvement with his alma mater, Temple University. He has been deeply involved as a leader in many Jewish causes.

2. They face difficulty with stubborn determination.  Murray’s son, Robert Shusterman an architect and lawyer is quoted as saying of his father, “He keeps pushing himself as hard as he can, and tries not to complain about things. He has a determination, a will to overcome impediments.”
 
3.  They are generous with their time and assetsIn 1994 Murray and his family gave $1 million to Temple Law School for the renovation of Park Hall, which reopened as Murray H. Shusterman Hall. Last year, Shusterman did more – donating $1.1 million to Temple Law to sponsor a professorship.“His commitment and generosity have been an inspiration,” law school dean JoAnne Epps is quoted as saying at the time.
 
4. They share their wisdomShusterman taught law as an adjunct professor for more than three decades, served on the university board of trustees, and in 1992 was elected an honorary, lifetime trustee.
 
5. They don’t take themselves too seriously.  Here’s what Murray had to say to the reporter when asked about his best and worst experiences in life: 
 “A person has many experiences over time, some good, some bad. . . . The real secret is to be decent, to be fair, and to be forgiving – now and then even a friend will do something that annoys you. And don’t take yourself too seriously.” 
 
6.  They stay active.  Murray describes himself as being active all his life.  He played golf until age 100. He is the father of 3 sons and had a long marriage, widowed in 2005.  He doesn’t, from the stories about him, strike one as a couch potato.
 
The story of Murray is not about what to eat or what exercise to do.  It is about much broader concepts and a philosophy of life.  Yes, he is surely blessed with good genes. Science tells us that our genetic makeup is only about 30% responsible for how we age. The rest is how we live our lives, how we spend our time.  Lifestyle is responsible for the other 70% of how we age.  I’d say Murray Shusterman  is doing a fabulous job on how he lives his life, wouldn’t you?
 
I was inspired by Murray and hope you are too.  Even if you pick only one of the above six things he does and do more of it, you just might increase your chances of a longer, healthier life.
 
If your aging parent is not a bit like Murray, and you wish she were, or you’re just having issues with her, contact us at AgingParents.com. We can ease your anxiety about a difficult parent with just the guidance you need now.  If that deep fear and worry you have about your loved ones is giving you an upset stomach, this is the place to get help and calm your fears.
 
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt and Mikol Davis
 
 

We are always here to help you through the many challenges in life, you can always take advantage of our Free complimentary telephone meeting. Just click HERE provide us with some information about your questions or issues and we will schedule our meeting.

It’s time for a good laugh

The Polite Way to Pee

During one of her daily classes, a teacher trying to teach good
manners, asked her students the following question:
‘Michael, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady,
how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?’
Michael said: ‘Just a minute I have to go pee.’
The teacher responded by saying:
‘That would be rude and impolite.

What about you Sherman, how would you say it?’
Sherman said:
‘I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom.
I’ll be right back.’

‘That’s better, but it’s still not very nice to say the word bathroom
at the dinner table.
And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us
your good manners?’
Johnny said:
‘I would say: Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to
shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope to introduce
you to after dinner.’

The teacher fainted.

Tigra went to doggie heaven

Carolyn and I want to sincerely thank everyone in our AgingParents family for your most kind thoughts and prayers.

Tigra our most wonderful dog and companion has gone to the great dog park in the sky.

May she rest in peace.

CRLwithTigra

 

117_0210

What Our Very Old Dog Is Teaching Us

Hello again,

Carolyn and Mikol here.
tigraOur sweet 16 year old dog, Tigra, getting frail, is in failing health now.  She is teaching us about acceptance.  I don’t want to learn it.  I don’t want to know that I will soon have to let go.

We’re losing our elders and we’re losing our aging pets.  I am reminded of our clients who describe the struggle of realizing that an aging parent or spouse getting too old to manage alone anymore or is fast going downhill, yet they don’t want to face it.  We empathize and offer support and direction. Now I feel the same about Tigra. I wish someone would offer me a direction. I don’t want to face it.

And nearly every week, I hear from friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they are losing their parents and grandparents at an accelerating rate. Their elders are in their 80s, 90s and more.  My friend’s grandmother is 104 and  rapidly declining in health.  My friend is sad and she is having a hard time with it, just as her daughter is getting married.  She is a lot like the rest of  us.  Life goes on, and there are happy things to look forward to, but at the very same time, we can’t part with the ones we love so easily, no matter what else is happening.  
I look at my beloved pooch getting weaker by the day.  The vet has kindly explained all the things that are failing.  Tigra has nearly given up eating.  I know humans often do the same near the end, too. It’s a sign, yet we urge them to eat nonetheless.  We don’t want to just say, ok, I will make peace with your choice not to eat.  We coax Tigra to take a bit of this or that and she looks at me as if to say, “Don’t you get it?  I’m 16 years old, I’m getting near the end, so just be all right with that”.  I’m not.  I’m so not all right with it. 
I am desperately trying to learn what the old gal is trying to teach me, that I must accept that her end is inevitable.  You see, she has been a nearly constant  companion for both Mikol and me these 16 years. She comes to work and sleeps at my feet or Mikol’s every day.  We’ve had thousands of walks together and done a zillion errands. 
When Mikol fell ill some years ago, she knew. She would not leave his side until he recovered two weeks later.  They have bonded ever since.
The life lesson our pets teach us is that our time with the ones we love is ever so precious.  We want to appreciate it and not take it for granted. And we want to thank the ones who have given us so much for all they have done, whether they are human or pets.  And we need to just be with the sadness we feel when it’s time to let go.  We need to grieve and not fight it.  And we need to also focus on what is good and happy in our lives too, as that is what gets us through this.
For anyone reading this who is facing a loss at this time, we’re with you. Share it with the  people close to you. Just putting it in words can be a relief. And reach out to hold someone’s hand if you can. It really helps.  And you are helping us by letting us tell you about what is going on.  We thank you.
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt and Dr. Mikol Davis

The Worst Excuse For Not Protecting A Vulnerable Parent

 This one shocked me.  

elderrageman-229x300Here at AgingParents.com we’ve been hearing elder abuse tales for a long time, but I was stunned when I heard this.
A family of 3 siblings has been worried  about their widowed father, who lives alone in the country. He is very comfortable, but not extremely wealthy.  6  years ago he got sucked into an internet scam.  He believes he has been sending money to refugees in Africa and he is going to get a lot back soon as a reward.  He is completely addicted to the contact with the scammers. They send him 50 of emails a day. He is mesmerized.  This seems to be his social life.
His daughters are worried and have of course, tried to talk him out of it.  By their calculations he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the scammers.  When I heard about this a year ago, I offered them several alternatives.
  
One was to have a family meeting of the siblings to develop a unified strategy and to do so immediately.  We could be there to facilitate it.
 
Another was to do an intervention to attempt to get him to commit to a change of authority over the partnership that controls his wealth. That is a service we can provide at AgingParents.com.  We were ready to go.
Another was to use the legal means they already have to begin to get funds away from their father to protect him from eventually depleting everything.  Some funds were in a partnership and their father had agreed to give up control to the partnership but had failed to follow through.
There is one sibling with leadership, who made the first call. However she did not follow up for a year. When she called more recently, things had not improved, Dad had lost even more money and he was developing more signs that he needed help with his life beyond money.  Alternatives were again offered, this time with more immediacy. A crime is underway and they are still not doing what needs to be done to stop the abuse.
This time, they are “thinking about it”.   One sister reportedly wants to “give Dad a chance” to stop giving away his money on his own. I would call that a very ineffective plan.
We do know that financial elder abuse costs our elders $2.9B per year, every year.  Scenarios like the one here are part of it. Every family needs to be aware and every family needs a better plan than this family had.  If they want to watch Dad’s money flow into the hands of criminals, they can keep doing as little as they are doing.  If they want to bring it to a halt, it will take a very assertive plan of action and the will to carry it out.
 
Our courts are interested in protecting elders from such abuse and are willing to grant family members the power they need to stop abuse if all other efforts fail. Guardianship (conservatorship in CA) is a legal way to get control over finances so an elder won’t keep being abused. An aging person does not have to be incompetent to be a victim of elder abuse. Judges can grant guardianship (conservatorship) over just the money and not the person if that is what the lawyer and family request.  A court looking at how an internet scam drained several hundred thousand dollars from an elder would likely meet the standard the court would need to grant the guardianship to protect the financial safety of the father in this case.
What stopped this family from taking steps to impose control or, failing that, to seek conservatorship?  They didn’t want to offend their father.  I was appalled.  If they don’t think he would be offended by becoming destitute I guess that excuse would do.  In my book they were lacking the guts to do what was needed.
Every person with an aging loved one needs to be aware of the risks.  Isolated, lonely elders are at high risk. The scammers are extremely good at hooking their victims, almost hypnotizing them.  If you have aging parents, remember, it can happen to anyone.
Get advice at AgingParents.com when you have a loved one, especially with any memory problems. The memory problems go hand in hand with loss of financial judgment.
Until next time,
 
P.S.

We are always here to help you through the many challenges in life, you can always take advantage of our Free complimentary telephone meeting. Just click HERE provide us with some information about your questions or issues and we will schedule our meeting.

This is what 66 looks like

What is the secret to successful aging ?

alice

 

With retirement and aging, older adults can find themselves with a lot of free time and not many ideas of what to do. Some alternatives to keep the mind busy and active are volunteering, starting another business, embarking on an encore career, engaging with one’s community, and caregiving or taking responsibility for grandchildren or friends with limited mobility.

These things can help us to build structure and purpose into our lives as we age and as we care for our own parents. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most popular pastime for older adults is watching TV. According to a MetLife study in 2012, socialization and communication as well as recreation and exercise decreased from 13% to 10% after the age of 75. My friend, Dr. Arnold Bresky, a preventive gerontologist, has come up with a nine point system of ways to be proactive in healthy aging and both prevent and treat symptoms of dementia.  These tips can be applied to our own health in addition to our aging loved ones.

1.    Fun and laughter: have 9 hearty laughs per day.
2.    Relaxation, meditation or prayer: meditate or pray at least once a day.
3.    Tunes Rx: Play joyful and relaxing music at least 15 minutes a day.
4.    Sleep: Ideally sleep 8 uninterrupted hours between 11PM and 7PM.
5.    Physical exercise: exercise everyday and track your progress. This can be anything from a slow, gentle walk to pool workouts, going to the gym, or taking a class.
6.    Nutrition: eat a low fat Mediterranean diet. Many of our aging parents do not get the nutrients and vitamins they need. A low-fat Mediterranean diet that consists of things like olive oil, fresh fruit, vegetables, and low sugar options.
7.    Hydration: drink 6, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. So many of us forget this important step. This is exceptionally true for older adults who can get dehydrated from medications and other sources.
8.    Learn something new: Do crossword puzzles, create art, or take a class to acquire a new skill. Engaging our aging loved one’s minds can be a critical step in preventing depression.
9.    Practice Acts of Kindness: reach out and make another person smile at least once a day.

My 91-year-old Mom is the poster girl for healthy aging. She lives alone, still drives during the day, gets together with friends often to socialize and play games, takes classes at the local community college, exercises in the community pool, takes care of her diet and walks on the treadmill for 20 minutes every morning. Although caring for our aging loved ones and ourselves can be challenging at times, making sure to take the steps to age healthily can ensure our ultimate success.

Introducing Dr. Albert Freedman age 91 years.

albert

This will make you smile……91-Year-Old to Run Sunday’s San Diego Marathon

91-Year-Old to Run Sunday’s San Diego Marathon
Harriette Thompson hopes to break her age-group record.
By
Hannah McGoldrick;
harriettet hompson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image by
MarathonFoto
Published May 30, 2014
Harriette Thompson Running San Diego Marathon
Harriette Thompson, 91, running the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.

When Harriette Thompson is not at church playing the piano, the 91-year-old cancer survivor is out running loops around the small lake in back of her retirement community in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Why is Thompson training? She’s running Sunday’s Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.

Thompson has run almost every edition of the race. The exceptions were the inaugural year, 1998, and 2013, when she had to miss the race due to surgery for an oral cancer that took her upper jawbone and all but one of her upper teeth. The last time she ran San Diego, 2012, she finished in 6:50:03.

Thompson has also just finished another round of radiation to treat squamous cell carcinoma on her legs.

“It’s so painful,” she told the Charlotte Observer. “I just wish I hadn’t had the radiation till after the marathon.”

According to the Observer, Thompson decided to run a marathon at the age of 76 because a friend of hers was planning to walk the San Diego Marathon to raise money for charity. Since her marathon debut, Thompson has run every year on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team In Training, generating more than $90,000.

When Thompson, who is starting in the first corral, crosses the finish line just outside of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, she will not only be the oldest finisher in the history of the race, she’ll also likely break her age-group record.

According to USATF, the 90-94 female record is 8:53:08, set by Mavis Lindgren at the 1997 Portland Marathon. Thompson’s slowest marathon, 7:05:32, was her first. Her personal record is 6:07:22, which she ran in her sixth marathon at age 81.

The oldest woman to have completed a marathon was Gladys Burrill, who ran the 2010 Honolulu Marathon in 9:53:16 at the age of 92. Thompson will get a single-age record if she finishes on Sunday, as there is no 91-year-old female marathon finisher to date.

Thompson told the Observer she feels like a 91-year-old only after finishing a marathon.

“Lots of times [after the races], I see young girls coming in and limping, hardly able to move, and I think, ‘Well that’s pretty good that I don’t feel that bad,’” she said.

The heart never forgets……….this will make you smile.


Share you story with our Aging Parents community. We all need to feel hope. Thank you for watching.

Let’s Re-define “Old”: What Does It Mean Anyway?

Hello again,

Carolyn and Mikol here.clrggbridgeswim
Who doesn’t have negative stereotypes about aging?
No one, especially Boomers, wants to think of ourselves as “old”.  We’re middle aged, we’re “senior”, we’re old-er, but old? Never.

Our society just doesn’t have a positive outlook on aging. Media everywhere imprints us with messages to “feel young”, get a lift, an implant, a surgery, take pills, and do anything to avoid the stereotypes of “old”.  Since I’m in the aging field as a consultant, here at AgingParents.com I do have a different attitude about aging, but I know I also hold some of those stereotypes in my own mind.  I don’t want to feel “old,” whatever that really means.

So I set out to challenge my own perceptions of what older people do.  If my age (66) is “old” I want to bust those stereotypes in my own head.
 
 This is not a new thing for me.  I rebelled against the stereotypes 4 years ago when, with fear and trembling, I took up the endurance sport of triathlon. I do the short kind only. I keep wondering if I’m too old to keep it up. There is no one my age on my all-womens’ training team, Flower Power Sports. Coach Michelle teaches you how to train smart. She does this while smiling and kicking your behind. You get stronger.  This is good. We don’t think of old and strong as going together.
My team friend, Gigi, an amazing 53 year old athlete talked me into going to Wildflower triathlon in central CA. It is in the middle of nowhere. Camping?? I don’t think so.  I first objected that “I’m too old to go camping.” But they have these comfy camper vans, all decked out. She had already rented one and that was no longer an excuse.
 
Then I said I didn’t want to do an Olympic distance event, as she’s doing. Never mind, they also have the short distance one, called a “sprint” (for humor, I expect).  Second excuse gone.  I’ve done sprint distance events before. This is reportedly the second largest triathlon event in the world, with athletes from everywhere. They do a sprint, Olympic distance and long course event over a weekend. OK, I’m in.
 
We arrive in rented camper, join Coach Michelle, her son, Nick, 16, and another teammate, Charmaine.  So far, so good.  But, lookinf around me, everyone seems to be a LOT younger.  Aren’t there any women my age here?  They always group us by age. Race morning arrives and Michelle and Gigi are support team for the 3 of us doing the mountain bike sprint course.

It starts with a swim.  I struggled through but was ok, then hiked up the 1/4 mile to the bike start.  The course had been changed from the prior year.  We did not know about that.  I had gotten moderately knobby tires for my mountain bike, suitable for what was described as a dirt trail with some paved portions.  As I got to the first sharp turn, I found loose, rocky, deep dirt, requiring the fattest tires you can get with the heaviest tread available.  OMG!  I have the wrong tires! Traction on this is going to be impossible. Bang! Down I went, opening a small gash in my arm.

I then began a pattern:  get back up, pedal a bit, lose traction, fall, repeat.  It was the steepest, most treacherous mountain bike course I’d ever seen and I was trying not to lose my nerve the entire time. My arm was bleeding.  About halfway through, there was an aid station, staffed with adorable college student volunteers who were all over at the weekend events.  I stopped.  ”Will you clean this off for me?” I asked.  A pleasant faced young man offered up bottles of water and began to pour them over my arm. “Do you have any gauze?”  
 
He looked in his first aid bag and pulled out a small white wrapped packet.  Opening it, he said, “I don’t know what this is.”   I said, “It’s a sanitary napkin.  It will have to do.  Just dry me off with it and put a bandaid over this cut, please.”  He obliged and quietly asked, “Are you going to finish?”  Maybe he thought I needed to be carried off or something.  I said, “Yes, I’m finishing this race!  This senior has gotta do this.” I took off. No more falls. The course got less rocky and loose and I made to the transition area where you change in to your run shoes for the last leg.  You can’t run in bike shoes.  Bags with our run shoes were supposed to be deposited by the bike.
6000+ racers

6000+ racers

 

I racked my bike and noticed, to my shock, that the bag with my run shoes and hat was not there!  OMG again!  It had somehow been misplaced. I desperately asked more of the college kid volunteers to look for my misplaced bag. No luck. Maybe 20 minutes ticked by. This is a race and it was going to be over if I didn’t get moving.  How was I going to get the run done?  It was only 2 miles and I was sure I could get there somehow, but not in bare feet.

I was so discombobulated from repeated falls, I could barely think.  I asked the nearest girl volunteer her shoe size. “I’m, an 8″, she said. Too big.  I’m a 6 1/2.  I asked one of them to find me a volunteer with a shoe size no bigger than a 7.  Promptly, a sweet girl, Natalie returned. “I wear a 7,” she said. “Oh, good,” I said.  ”I need to please borrow your shoes.” She thought she could walk around barefoot for awhile and gave up the shoes. I put them on. They fit!  By now the sun was hot.  ”I need to borrow your hat, too”, I said. She obligingly gave it to me.  I thanked her a lot, got her name, told her where I would turn in the shoes and I was off.

I am not sure how I stumbled through that last leg, but I did it.  Finally, I ran across the finish line!  Michelle, and teammates were all there cheering.  This did not fit my images of “old”. I have no stereotypes in my head of arm-gashed seniors running across finish lines in borrowed shoes. Immediately I went to the medic tent, where they cleaned and bandaged my arm. The MD suggested that I get a couple of stitches. I got directions to the nearest emergency room for later.  I looked around at the people in the tent with IV’s, ice on their knees, and various other injuries. I actually felt fortunate, as a cut and scrapes will heal and it could have been worse.

Natalie found me later from her neon green hat I still wore. She got a beautiful new pair of shoes from a race sponsor for her generous gesture, and she got her hat and old shoes back too.  My shoe bag showed up finally. We watched Nick (3d place in his age group) get his medal. I did not stick around for the other results of the race, as I was exhausted.

We went back to camp, I made a trip the the ER, I got the stitches and I was ok, despite a sore arm. The next day, after the Olympic distance event, race results were available on laptops they provide so you can see how you did. Super Coach Michelle placed second in her age group and Gigi did respectably well also.  Out of curiosity, I asked Gigi to look at the prior day’s race to see how many women were in my age group. Over 6000 athletes show up for this event, from kids age 10, to challenged athletes to seasoned elites.

 
Finishing Triathlon Race

Finishing Triathlon Race

She checked. “Carolyn, you are the only woman in your age group!”.  That meant that despite all the craziness of my day, I was first in the 66-69 age group. They give you a medal for that. I haven’t stopped laughing since.tri medal

So much for aging stereotypes.  I redefined “senior moment” for myself that day. Life experience teaches us how to get past obstacles. We have some advantages over our younger friends. We know about persistence. We trust ourselves to overcome difficulty because years of living have shown us we can do it. Aging is more, not less. If aging feels like this, I’m happy with it. Now where’s that ice pack? 
 
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt,

Does retirement mean we’re getting OLD?

Ah, retirement.  Most look forward to a time of enjoyment of life and everyone wants to age successfully in retirement.  Do we ever really consider what it takes to age successfully?  It is a new responsibility that few of us consider in our vision of how we expect to live after the end of a long work life.Successful aging can be boiled down to a few basic components. These have to do with overcoming our culturally reinforced negative mindset about aging in general.
Jack 85yrs Triathlete

Jack 85yrs Triathlete

We don’t necessarily revere the aged. We may refuse to see ourselves as aging. We hate the word “elderly” unless we’re talking about our parents or grandparents. We ourselves couldn’t possibly be elderly!  Who needs to deal with it if we’re not there yet, right?And yet, successful aging requires taking responsibility for the fact that we are moving toward being elderly ourselves.  

So, the first component of successful aging is to overcome reluctance to face aging.What does that mean?  If we cant to be confident and empowered as we age, we need to bear in mind the adage that no one gets out of here alive.
First and easiest is the paperwork. We need to  have our estate planning done and updated. Every document our lawyers want us to sign needs to be fully signed and ready when needed. They will be needed. That’s what we are reluctant to face. My estate planning lawyer friends tell me that most people do not do estate planning (will, trust, power of attorney, healthcare directive as basics). Studies and articles confirm his.
These colleagues tell me that they go to all the effort to prepare the necessary documents and lots of clients don’t ever even sign the paperwork. It’s too much reality and they they can’t accept it. Their reluctance mirrors a general society-wide attitude that death is optional and it may not happen to me.  Overcoming one’s own reluctance is part of successful aging. Acceptance of aging is fundamental.  Embracing it gives you confidence.Another component is to be informed about the healthy aging process.  

Most of us just don’t want to learn about aging until we are dealing with an age-related problem ourselves.  Before that, ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s risk. For example, if we study what makes others successful as they age, we can learn how they do it.

Things like daily doses of humor, exercise and getting rid of unhealthy things in our diet and lifestyles can really help us. As an example, I often think of comedian, writer and actor George Burns, who lived to be 100 and and worked at what he loved until shortly before his death. If you look at his lifestyle, you see all the essentials of successful aging.  He was happy in his work. He exercised in his pool daily.  He laughed at aging itself as well as his own age-related limitations.  He did a lot of things in an ideal way and he reaped the benefits of his choices.  He must  have educated himself about what to do.  We don’t learn this in school unless it is our professional field of study.  Healthy aging research is abundant, as lifespans are increasing. Read up, as exemplary seniors can inspire all of us.

Prepare for your own successful aging by taking action.   I look at how my own grandmother lived as she aged. She died at 93 after  successfully navigating her own aging process for many years.  She was widowed and lived alone, but maintained her house as a comfortable place for her children and grandchildren to visit. She had the means, which helps, but it was intentional to create an atmosphere around her where family would want to visit.  And they did.  Engagement with family and frequent visitors kept her involved in positive things. She read daily and worked crossword puzzles. She followed world politics and world news. She went outside for at least a mile walk every day. She stayed active in her local church, and community organizations for as long as she was able to get out.  As she became more frail and developed dementia, she stayed at home with a full time caregiver. Family were around her constantly. She died in her own bed, in the presence of family, probably with no regrets. I always thought she modeled a good way to go out of this life.  She taught me that aging is not a passive thing. You need to put energy into it.

If we want aging to be a successful long term proposition for ourselves, we have to look at how it gets to be long term and how we keep our vitality.  We can’t expect healthy aging to be merely a matter of luck.  At least being informed and inspired by those who manage this phase of life successfully can inspire us to take action in our own lives.

Retirement opens the door to change our focus from our work lives to our opportunity to make aging a positive experience. It will probably involve some limitations from the wear and tear of years of living in our bodies, but that need not stop us from healthy aging.  My hope is that with millions of Boomers retiring every year, that our generation will embrace aging as something more than we were before, not something less.  Let that be a resolution.

Thanks for listening

Carolyn Rosenblatt & Dr. Mikol Davis

AgingParents.com

Where Can LGBT Seniors Age Without Discrimination?

rainbow flagWe have some thoughts about emerging solutions to an aging part of our population, the LGBT community.

 
For the longest time, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community got little other than negative press and highlighting of controversial issues.  But things are changing.  Millions of people who are retiring include LGBT individuals.  What is our society is going to do with these folks? 
 
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates 3 million LGBT elders live in the United States. As Baby Boomers age, that number will grow.  In some places, forward thinking people are creating LGBT friendly retirement communities where acceptance and a supportive environment are available to anyone.  Can we do this without special, prejudice- free facilities where aging LGBT folks are welcome?  Maybe not.  READ MORE
 
For LGBT older adults, a lifetime of employment discrimination and other factors contribute to disproportionately high poverty rates, according to the National Consumer Law Center.  Discrimination in care facilities likely mirrors society-wide discrimination, adding to the difficulties any aging person must face in deciding where to live and how to receive care in a dignified way.  For low income LGBT seniors, many of whom do not have children, there may be little or no family to take on the task of caregiving..
 
World News reported recently that Spain is getting its first LGBT retirement center in Madrid.  The article quotes Federico Armenteros, founder of an NGO for Spain’s LGBT community.  He cites the reason for building the center is that “elderly LGBT don’t exist” in the eyes of most people. That, he says, “pushes people back into the closet,” often those who have fought for equality during their younger years.For those who have been out of the closet for some time, it would likely be very depressing to have to go back to it and hide one’s orientation in order to get needed assistance in a care facility, senior’s apartment complex or assisted living community.
 
 In my own area, a new LGBT friendly community has recently opened at Fountaingrove Lodge in Sonoma County, CA.  It was the concept of a family with a personal interest in the issues.  Members of the LGBT community approached the Gallagher family and got their commitment to do the project.  They wanted aging people to be welcomed, and not judged in a beautiful retirement setting.  Part of this population has been marginalized. Many have lived most of their lives in the closet.  The project has 70 homes of varying sizes and offers a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, memory care and hospice care.  It has been opened just 4 1/2 months as of this writing and the memory care portion is almost filled already.
 
This is an upscale  place, according to its marketing staff, for those who can afford the hefty entry fees and monthly rent.  A low income LGBT friendly retirement home is in the works in San Francisco, with financial qualification criteria. Staff training at Fountaingrove Lodge includes advice about what language to use that is considered politically correct in this population.  The staff are taught to respect everyone, what challenges their residents are likely to face and how to deal with sexuality.  Employees are carefully chosen to screen for an open attitude and willingness to accept everyone without judgment.  There are other LGBT friendly projects across the U.S. but according to Fountaingrove Lodge staff, none of the others offer a continuum of care, with memory care and hospice also available.
 
Here at AgingParents.com, we have witnessed many of the ongoing challenges of aging which are difficult enough for elders without adding discrimination to the mix.  We support the concept of creating LGBT friendly places for all seniors to live. No matter what a person’s sexual orientation, the problems of aging are the same, and LGBT folks have to cope with financial capacity issues, loneliness, caregiving, family conflicts, elder abuse and dementia just like anyone else.  
 
Every person deserves to age with dignity. In a community such as Fountaingrove Lodge, those with sufficient means to enjoy a great quality of life can do so without fear.  For those with less means to pay for care, we hope to see more Federally approved retirement communities where anyone can live and age in freedom.
 
For help with age-related issues in your relationship or your family, contact AgingParents.com, a resource for you.  We offer expert  advice, conflict resolution services, assessment of financial capacity and decision-making ability, and many educational videos and blog posts to assist you.  Request a complimentary 15 minute consultation by clicking here.

5 Success Tips In Caring For Difficult Parents

Dr Mikol Davis & Carolyn RosenblattFirst, we do have to put ourselves first sometimes.  What’s best for us, best for our own families and our own peace of mind must be a serious consideration.  Sacrificing our sanity for the sake of caregiving is not the best choice. Delegate and find others to help if having too much of the caregiver burden is getting you down.

Second, know our own limitations.  Caring for aging parents can become very time-consuming and emotionally wrenching as we watch our loved ones decline in health.  Trying to bravely go it alone, taking in an ailing parent, or assuming other large, long term chores is not for everyone.  It’s okay to say “no”.  Every adult child is not the same and many are simply unable to do a good job of being a primary caregiver.  Admitting this to ourselves is both healthy and necessary.

Third, forget trying for praise, appreciation or recognition of a caregiving job well done when our parent has dementia.  Our parent’s brain is not functioning normally with dementia.  The cognitive impairment may mean that he or she is unable to appreciate your efforts.  It may mean behavior changes, such as suspicion, accusations and nasty outbursts in your aging parent when that sort of thing didn’t happen before.  Do a good job for your own sake and because it’s right, not because you have to have your parent’s approval.

Fourth, we need to love ourselves for trying.  Our efforts may not always succeed. We may feel doubt about what we’re doing. We may feel guilty that we get mad at an aging parent who is so difficult.  But we keep trying to make life manageable, keep up their quality of life the best we can and go at it with sincere hearts.  We need to tell ourselves that we are brave and valued for forging on in the face of difficulty.  We need to appreciate our own efforts.

Fifth, we need to take breaks.  We get so lost in caregiving, directing others, managing our own jobs, families and problems, we forget how much time we’re putting in. We forget to stop.  This is really important!  To nurture our own bodies and soothe our own spirits is the very thing that gives us the strength to carry on and keep it up.

So, my friends, be very good to yourselves.  Love your own heartfelt work of helping aging parents, especially the most difficult ones.  It takes a strong will to put up with the resistance difficult parents put up.

Mikol and I are with you. We have difficult people in our lives, too.  My Mom was mentally ill and the challenge to my strength and patience was there for years on end.

We are on this journey together.  We can help each other along.

If your aging parent is driving you nuts, let us know about it,  We do like to address your questions.

Until next time,
All the best,

Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney and Dr. Mikol Davis

Housing And Support Services

Part I – So Many Choices – An Overview 10:01podcast
Where is “home”? Perhaps the most important aspect of our life. But as we age, our housing requirements start to change. When we talk about housing, where our parent lives, uppermost in consideration is the need to maximize their independence. The good news is that there is a wide range of housing options between complete independent living at one end of the spectrum and a skilled nursing home at the other. What would you want for yourself? Obviously living at home is the number one choice. This program, and the other podcasts in this series, will help you focus your thinking so that the complexity of where your parent lives begins to make sense.

 

 

podcastPart II – Living Independently at Home 5:16
Living independently at home is the preferred choice for seniors and if you’re an adult child it should be your first choice as well. But how can you prolong the time that your parent can live at home, alone? The trick is to bring in support services. Services that can be done by you and other family members and services done by others –paid or volunteer. Sometimes just a few little things can be done to keep an elder viably independent at home. Listen to this program to get a good understanding of how to keep mom or dad at home.

 

 

podcastPart III – Assisted Living 10:16
When the time comes that a parent can no longer live independently at home is no longer viable for health or safety reasons, an assisted living facility is a great alternative. Assisted living options are for active elders who need some daily or occasional help with the activities of daily living. It’s a social community not a nursing home. This program will clarify what an assisted living community is and is not, how to choose one, how parents can thrive in a good assisted living community, and what you can expect from moving a parent from the old home/house to the new environment.

When Crisis Strikes

There’s nothing quite like a parent’s crisis to help you focus on what needs to be done. But it’s also true that your parent’s crisis can quickly become your crisis if you let it. This program will help you understand the dynamics involved in a crisis, how to quickly get organized to manage the crisis and how to use the crisis as a starting point to effective long term caring.

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Getting Organized Part 1 (When Its Time to Help)

Part I – When it’s time to help a parent – How you know and how to get started 7:52
When is it appropriate to intervene to help a parent? When do you, for example, say no more driving? How do you know its time to step-up and become your parents’ caregiver? This program will help you focus on what your parent’s situation is, where to get help and information about their true status. It’s a
complicated subject but this program can help!

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  • What You Don’t Know About Medicare Open Enrollment Can Cost You October 17, 2014
    Mikol and I wish you well from AgingParents.com. As you’re probably seeing ads on TV or getting solicitations in the mail about Medicare plans, here are a few things you should know if you, your aging parents or a family member…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
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    Most days at I get a call from an adult child of an elder, asking me about shady dealings over a parent’s finances. Sometimes it’s the niece, grandson, or other family member the caller is worried about. Sometimes it’s the…Read more ›
    Mikol Davis
  • My Mom just discovered the joys of ordering on Amazon August 18, 2014
    Can you believe my mother is turning 92 years young this week, August 24.
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  • Do You Want To Live To Be 100? August 12, 2014
    Hello again We are always fans of those who have figured out how to age well and we always want to learn a few things from them.  Here’s a fine example:   The Philadelphia Enquirer recently published a piece about Murray Shusterman,…Read more ›
    Mikol Davis
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