It’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, and the ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in our physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Although these changes are part of normal aging, they can affect each individual at different rates.
Just as one plans for retirement, it’s important to plan for your transportation needs.
December is the perfect time to have a conversation with loved ones as you come together for the holidays.
When an older driver decides it’s time for a check-up, useful driving fitness education tools can help identify challenges and help them adjust.
Driving intervention plans, drawn up between a client and therapist, can help older individuals drive safely for as long as possible.
When someone needs to adjust to keep driving or can no longer drive, family and friends can help with resources for independent transportation in the community.
Exploring alternative types of transportation can help older adults stay independent. Options can include community networks, public transit, and ride sharing apps.
Vision problems and certain medications can also cause issues driving early. Talk to your doctor to get help.
It’s Hunger Action Month, and in 2018, 40 million Americans are dealing with hunger. 12 million of those are children, and more than 5 million are seniors. Help make a difference.
1 in 6 kids in America don’t always know where they’ll get their next meal. Free breakfast and lunch programs at school can make a huge difference in their lives.
Children facing hunger are more likely to struggle in school, repeat a grade, have developmental impairments, have social and behavior problems, or have health conditions.
Some senior citizens are having to choose between medical care and food because of costs. Those struggling with hunger are also more likely to have chronic health conditions.
2.4 million people who live in rural communities face hunger and food deserts, and 86% of the counties with the highest rates of children facing hunger are rural.
Three-quarters of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas, and mobile pantries that distribute food are one of the best ways to help.
Those dealing with hunger and food insecurity also struggle to get enough food to support a healthy life and are more likely to spend money on heavily processed foods based on cost and convenience.
Have you ever noticed how much stuff you have packed in your house? It seems to have a life of its own! There was a point where I thought, “If I bring one more thing home, something will pop out of a window.” The thought of moving with all these treasures in tow is daunting.
Now imagine if you had to do so without notice or against your wishes. That would be a nightmare.
Sadly, I remember that a few short years ago, when my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his primary care doctor told him and my grandmother that it was time to downsize from their 4-bedroom home on 15 acres in the country to something a little more manageable.
He felt a part of his independence was being taken from him. But fortunately for him, being newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he had a little more say in his plans for the future.
I am sure some of you have older friends and family members who could find themselves in that situation or worse. At some point, they might not have a say in their future and need to transition suddenly from independent living to a group or assisted-living facility, whether the move is short-term or permanent.
It seems that talking about this tough situation ahead of time could save everyone a lot of pain later.
There are some early signs that it is time to talk about moving options. A change might be in order if they have trouble getting dressed or making their own food. Sudden changes in behavior or severe forgetfulness are more alarming and require fast action to protect your loved one.
Help your friends or loved ones have this conversation with their primary care doctors to assess their needs and their next steps and to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.
There you have it. And it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to plan for the future by simplifying our lives and possessions as we go along!
Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.
What just happened? I blinked, and all of a sudden, it’s 2018! The holidays came and went, and now it’s time to go back to our normal routines. I’m personally excited for spring to get here. I’m over this cold.
As I go back to my routine, I think of what I’m going to do differently this year. It is very cliché, but I really do look back on my previous year and reflect on what I can improve on for 2018. We can improve in every aspect of our life: relationships, work, finances, and health.
We all try to set goals and keep them for the entire year. But sometimes we set unrealistic goals, or we just don’t try hard enough. The most common goal I hear is having a healthier lifestyle. We all have at least one unhealthy habit that we want to kick to the curb. As I get older, I realize it is not about looking good or having “rock hard” abs, it’s about being healthy and strong.
There are so many ways we can have an active lifestyle. Many people would join a gym to reach that goal, but what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership? And the older we get, the harder it is to do heavy lifting or the more dangerous it is to use a treadmill.
We are so lucky to have an organization like the Wellness Place in the Wenatchee Valley. Its mission is “[t]o improve and enhance the health and well-being of community members through programs and education; inspiring every person to live their best life now.” Their current programs include targeting and supporting cancer patients, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and diabetes support services.
The SAIL program started in 2006 and focuses on balance and fitness for those 65 and older. Exercises that improve strength, balance, and fitness are the most important activities you can do to stay active and reduce your chance of falling as you age.
These classes are offered all over the greater Wenatchee area, and they’re no cost to the attendees. It is a great opportunity to kick off a healthier lifestyle for free. Learn more about the classes and when and where they take place and start your new year the right way.
Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.
November is National Home Care and Hospice Month. Home health care includes a wide range of care you can get for an illness or injury at home.
Home care is usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care in a hospital.
Hospice is special care for people who are terminally ill, including medical and physical care and help with social, emotional, and spiritual needs.
An important part of home care and hospice is being prepared for the future. Document your decisions for your loved ones.
If you’re a caregiver, you should understand your loved ones’ home care and hospice options.
If you or a loved one has a serious issue, palliative care, or specialized medical care tailored to you, can help relieve your symptoms and improve your life.
Advance directives help your loved ones carry out your wishes in life-threatening circumstances. Have yours ready.
Have you been in a senior center lately? Well, I’m here to tell you, it is in no way like you’d think it would be. Hip, active, and happy people are taking classes, having a laugh at the welcome table, or volunteering behind the desk. Bingo? Sure, they still have bingo, however they have much more than that these days.
Senior centers bring older adults together who want to gather, socialize, and continue to learn. Before working in the Medicare healthcare industry, I’d never ventured into a senior center. Fast forward several years, and it’s where I may spend part of any given day and where I learn the most about our senior population.
Olympia Senior Center is one such center. It is a thriving, bustling, happy place. The welcome table is where you can find me, along with an eclectic group of awesome, interesting, and vivacious older adults who are always ready to welcome a new person to the center or to the community.
I regularly attend the community awareness meetings that take place at the center every Wednesday. Each Wednesday of the month is different. One meeting provides valuable information on various subjects, activities, and projects around the Thurston County area.
Once a month, a community member presents a travelogue about their trip to an adventurous destination. They show a presentation with vivid pictures and give great details about the points of interest from their trip, plus the details of costs, transportation, and accommodations.
This month, the travelogue’s destination was Vietnam, presented by DJ Marks. She is an excellent presenter and kept the group engaged throughout her presentation. While it would not be the first choice for some of us in the group, we all agreed that it was a spectacular look into the culture and history of the country.
On another Wednesday, the group views TED Talks, which are short, powerful videos on various topics. We’ve explored many themes and subjects over the past few months, like money, fear, political divides, and reforming the American justice system. All of these topics have evoked emotional, professional, and spiritual ideas and opinions during discussions.
I asked Sara Rucker-Thiessen, who coordinates these Wednesday meetings, what makes this center different from people’s expectations of a senior center. She said, “We go way beyond leisure activities and incorporate continuing academic learning and discussion of current social issues, along with the fun activities like dances and bingo.”
Other centers around Thurston County incorporate many of the same activities as the Olympia Senior Center; however, what’s great about Olympia is how it’s tailored its center to fit the countless members who show up every day to stay active, be motivated, and get inspired.
I have learned many things from these well-versed and well-lived individuals. One of them being, don’t think you know what’s going on in the senior center until you go in and find out for yourself.
Joy Stanford is a community liaison with Health Alliance, serving Thurston County. She’s been involved with Medicare for 20+ years and truly enjoys it. She enjoys gospel, R&B, and country music, and she owns over 100 pairs of shoes.