Tag Archives: older adults

Getting Older with Grace

Covered Bridge: How Do You Know You’re Getting Older?

When I started working in the Medicare industry 15 years ago, I was ignorant about Medicare and insurance of any kind really. It seemed like a growth industry to me.

15 year later, I have a much more personal interest in the subject, having quite a few family members over 65. This aging thing is not as easy as I thought it would be. Things change.

I’ve made progress in the meantime. I also used to think being online and connected was not that necessary. Now I couldn’t live without it. Please note, the perception that older people don’t like to use technology is false. According to Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 seniors own smartphones, more than double the share that did so in 2013.

I have an almost 8-month-old and an 8-year-old and have “mom brain” most days. I used to take extra time getting ready for a big event or even a regular day. When I was done, I would look in the mirror and say, “You look very well put together.”  Now, when I go through all the same steps, I look in in the mirror and say, “You look clean.”

When did I stop hearing, “You look great,” and start hearing, “You look great for your age”? Probably around the same time folks went from saying, “I like your new glasses,” to “Your new glasses take 5 years off your face.” Ugh.

I’ve learned not to ask anyone how old they are unless they are under the age of 12. Even then, I would think twice about it. If anyone forces you to guess how old they are, make a fair guess, and then subtract 15 years. No one ever complains.

The Population Reference Bureau says that from 2014 to 2060, the number of people age 65 and older in the United States will more than double from 46 million to over 98 million. Surprisingly, people over age 85 are the fastest growing 10-year age group of the older population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aging is tough. Often, we have to forgo many of the activities of our youth, such as:

  • Driving a car
  • Living independently
  • Eating anything you want
  • Staying up all night
  • Getting a haircut
  • Worrying about the small stuff (Oh wait, that’s a good thing.)

While I still have a way to go before some of these activities are things I have to forgo, I try to remember those family and friends that are maturing and reaching a stage where they may have to give up some of these activities. I try to show as much grace and dignity to them as I hope someone will show to me. Maturing is tough.

 

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.

Winter Senior Games

Long View: Sack Those Winter Blues, Get Active at Winter Senior Games

When I was in high school, I had a crush on the hunky, curly-haired quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chuck Long. Sigh, just saying his name takes me back to those days.

In my youth, sports of any kind ruled my world. Volleyball, softball, track and field, and basketball, I took a shot at all of them. I even earned a varsity letter for basketball in high school. I often say that the first thing God is going to let me do when I get to heaven is shoot the gap, slam through on the blind side, and sack the quarterback. But that quarterback will be someone I don’t like, like Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers, not Chuck.

Well, as it tends to happen, I grew up. I decided to become a Cyclone instead of a Hawkeye, got married, and raised a family. I stopped having crushes on college quarterbacks and started dreaming about minivans that could corner on a dime and the day my sons would stop taking swings at each other and just get in the car. Oh, and I went to work for Health Alliance, a company based in Champaign, IL, and full of Fighting Illini. Go figure. But I’ve always hung on to that love of sport. The body doesn’t always cooperate, but the heart is still alive and willing to give it a try.

February is a great month for all lovers of sport because Health Alliance is sponsoring the Winter Iowa Senior Games in the Quad Cities, and you are invited whether you’re an Illini, Hawkeye, Cyclone, or something else. You don’t need to be an Iowa resident to compete. In fact, competitors come from all over the United States. The only requirement is that you must be over 50 years old.

Still worried about the heart being more willing than the body? Don’t, everyone else is in the same boat because you compete with your own age group. Age groupings start at 50 and go up to over 90 years old. The playing field is even!

Registration is being taken for bowling, pickleball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and all track and field events. Events will take place throughout the Quad Cities, but most will happen at Augustana’s PepsiCo Arena in Rock Island. Yes, that is an indoor track.

Here is the best part. Chuck Long runs the Iowa Sports Foundation, the sponsoring agency of the Iowa Senior Games! Sometimes he even comes out to run the 800 meters in his age group. Making one’s heart go pitter-patter is an aerobic exercise, don’t you know? Come out and have some fun and shake off those winter blues.

The Winter Iowa Senior Games will be held February 22 to 24 in the Quad Cities. Register for events at IowaSeniorGames.org or by calling 1-888-777-8881.

Reading this article too late for the Winter Games? The Eastern Iowa Senior Challenge happens in April in Cedar Rapids, and the Iowa Senior Games is later this summer in West Des Moines. Check their website for all available events and dates.

 

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Fall Prevention Tips

Fall Prevention Tips

Falls cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults, and winter weather is just one reason for them. This week’s fall prevention tips can help you protect yourself and loved ones. Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.
Healthy Vision
  Ask your doctor to review all your meds and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.
Your Medication
  Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference. Fall Proof Your Home   Get enough calcium and Vitamin D with foods and drinks like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.
Nutrition and Weight Management Resources
  Get tested for osteoporosis, which can increase your risk of falls and serious injuries from falling. Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home.
Warning Signs of Hoarding
  Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age. Tai chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength.
Your Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention
Tough Talks to Plan for the Future

Covered Bridge: Tough Talks Now Can Save Hurt Feelings Later

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.

Healthy Resolutions like Fitness

Vantage Point: Healthy Resolutions Without the Cost

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.

Long-Term Care Awareness Month

Long-Term Care Awareness Month

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and 70% of those over age 65 will require long-term care in the future.

Preparing to Grow Together

 

Whether you’re already on Medicare or planning for the future, make sure you understand how Medicare will help you pay for long-term care.

Understanding Medicare and Long-Term Care

 

78% of adults receiving care at home rely on loved ones for care. There are 45 million informal caregivers in the U.S.

Getting Care at Home

 

92% of family caregivers make a major work change from full-time to part-time hours or take a leave of absence to be a caregiver.

Caregivers' Lives

 

11% of caregivers moved closer to a parent or family member to give them more care.

Moving Back for Loved Ones

 

Long-term care takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll on you, your caregivers, and other loved ones. Take steps to avoid burnout.

National Family Caregivers Month

 

Get resources and support if you’re a caregiver providing long-term care.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Making the Most of a Senior Center

Vantage Point: Not Your Grandmother’s Senior Center

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.