Saturday, October 17, 2020

Stay Connected if You Live Alone - It Could Save Your Life

The retirement community where I live contains over 12,000 condominiums, and only one person lives in approximately half of them.  As a result, we occasionally hear about people who have died alone, and their death was not discovered for a day or longer.  In a few instances, people have gone missing, but no one realized it until days had passed and a friend or neighbor checked on them.
In addition to these risks, living alone has been shown to decrease your lifespan, as well as the quality of the final years of your life, often because the person becomes isolated and fails to reach out and contact other people. Loneliness is a dementia risk.  People who live alone often have a poorer diet and are less likely to maintain their personal hygiene. They may be slower to get to a hospital if they are showing signs of a heart attack or stroke. They rarely recognize their own dementia symptoms.  It is dangerous for many reasons.  
I recently heard about a woman who fell in her home and it was days before anyone found her. She was dehydrated and extremely weak before she was discovered, but she did survive. Doctors said that she would probably have died if she had laid there much longer.  Being alone too much puts your life at risk.
Loneliness is even more important during situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic.  Many senior citizens, unable to visit with friends, neighbors, and family, have become more isolated than ever before.  If they have a dangerous preexisting condition, such as diabetes, asthma or chronic kidney disease, they are usually taking extreme precautions to avoid seeing other people.  This could protect them from Covid-19, but put them at risk in other ways. 
If you are one of the millions of retirees who live alone, how can you stay connected to other people?  How can make sure that someone is looking out for you?  How can you maintain your relationships and build new ones?

Check in with someone every day - In the past, it was recommended that someone should call the elderly members of their family every day.  However, at a time when the younger generations are often overwhelmed with their jobs and children, making phone calls to an aging parent day-after-day, year-after-year, can become an overwhelming task.  Today, there are other ways to make sure everyone in your family is doing OK.  
If you are living alone, ask a friend, neighbor or relative to connect with you briefly every day.  The two of you could quickly touch base in one of these ways:
Send each other a quick daily text message in the morning, and wait for a response.  It can be as simple as saying, "I'm up this morning."  They could respond with an easy "thumbs up." 

Some people make a point of opening their blinds in the morning and closing them in the evening.  This allows concerned neighbors to know they are are alive and well.  Such a simple action, especially when you know a neighbor is watching out for you, can be life saving.
You could also post something daily on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  It could be a picture you took during a morning walk, a photo of a cake you baked, or your opinion about something interesting.  It is an easy way to let everyone in your circle of friends know you are alive, active online, and functioning mentally.  Because these posts go out to many of your friends and family, a number of family members and friends can be reassured at the same time that you are OK.  This is especially helpful if you have been ill.
If you are going to be out-of-touch and off-line for a while, let everyone know privately, so your family and friends do not worry.  You will want to do this discreetly, or to a limited number of people, so you do not return to a burglarized home. You could create a small "close friend's group" on Facebook, and only a small group of people will see your message. You can also create a small text message group, which will allow you to notify a few friends at once. It is important you do something like this if you are traveling, spending time in the hospital, or otherwise unlikely to be online, so your close friends do not worry about you. 
If you are hospitalized in an emergency, be sure to ask a friend or relative to let others know, or ask someone to subtly mention it online, and tag you, so it appears on your Facebook news feed. They could say something vague, but reassuring, such as "Helen will be off-line for a few days, but she is doing fine." Or, ask someone in your text group to send a message to the others. Otherwise, a caring friend may send the police to do a wellness check at your home!
Get a medical alert device - You have seen the ads with the person on the floor saying, "I fell and I can't get up!"  This is more common than you may realize. One in four people over the age of 65 falls every year.  Anyone over the age of 70 who lives alone should consider getting a medical alert device. (Ad)  Many assisted living facilities require their residents to wear a medical alert device at all times.  You can purchase your own at a very low cost, with a small monthly service fee.  Then, if you are having a medical emergency either at home or while out of the house, you can simply push a button on a necklace, bracelet or key chain and an operator will answer. There are a variety of medical alert devices (Ad) available, and you will want to check out your options. When you activate the device and contact the service in an emergency, the operator will ask you over the device's speaker whether you want an ambulance, the police, or need them to call a designated friend, relative or neighbor.  They will then place the appropriate call and get you the help you need. In many cases, the operator will stay on the line until they are sure you have been helped. These devices can reassure your family that you are never unable to get assistance the minute you need it.  It could save your life. 

Make an effort to see people
- It can feel so comfy, cozy and safe in your own home, you may avoid getting out and seeing people.  This is especially true today when it is so easy to have everything from your groceries to your clothing delivered directly to your door.  Why leave your home when it can be tiring and feel unsafe?  However, it is absolutely essential that nearly everyone makes an effort to get out and see others, when they can, and feel safe doing so.  It can be as simple as waving to a neighbor and chatting from 10 or 15 feet away.  You may also want to find a friend that you feel safe seeing, such as a neighbor who also lives alone.  Perhaps you can take a walk together, or sit outside and have a cocktail in the evening.  It is nice to know that someone would immediately notice if you did not show up for a planned walk or chat.
Having conversations with other people is an essential part of avoiding dementia.  When you are with other people, you pick up on non-verbal communications, such as facial expressions. You also never know what the other person will say, which means you have to be ready to respond quickly to new information.  Interacting with other people is the very best type of brain stimulation.  Even if you have to maintain a safe distance and wear face masks, it is important to occasionally interact with other people in-person.  At the very least, during the pandemic you should regularly interact using Zoom, Facetime, or similar sites.

Get involved in your community - This can mean taking classes, volunteering, attending a place of worship, or joining clubs.  The advantage of these activities is that they will keep you busy, keep your mind active, and help you build a group of people who care about you and who will worry if you stop showing up.  You will make friends with people who have similar interests.  You will learn to care about them and watch out for any unexpected changes in their lives.  This is the basis for seniors helping seniors.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, many charities and political organizations offer ways to help them virtually by making phone calls, doing fund-raising, writing postcards, sending text messages or promoting them in other ways.
Being active in the community is especially important for people who do not have adult children or other close relatives who are watching out for them.  You need to find your own group of friends, neighbors, club members, church members and others who will watch out for you. 
If you are not able to go to in-person meetings, you can find groups that have Zoom meetings through Meet-up.  They even offer meetings in foreign languages, if you want to practice your Spanish, French, German or another language.  You can also sign up for fun discussion groups through a local community college. One couple I know takes a "Film as Literature" class through an Emeritus program offered for senior citizens by a local community college. They watch Netflix movies, and then participate in a weekly Zoom discussion meeting, where they talk about the movie.  Whatever interests you, you should be able to find an online class or discussion group which will be fun and interesting for you.

Local senior centers will reopen after the quarantine ends - Although you may not be able to visit them during the pandemic, eventually senior centers will reopen again. They are located across the United States.  They offer wellness programs, exercise classes, useful information, assistance with common problems, and other services.  Some of them even offer low-cost daily lunches, which are a wonderful way to get to know other people in your area.  They also offer social events and field trips to local places of interest.  It is a fun way to find friends who are interested in attending plays, museums and concerts. You could also volunteer at the senior center, which can be a lot of fun.  The more effort you put into spending time there, the more benefit will get out of your local senior center.

Host a social event in your home, once people begin to get together again. - If you want to get to know your neighbors or club members better, there is no better way to do this than to hold a social event in your home.  I have hosted annual block parties at every home where I have lived since my husband and I were in our 20s.  As a result, I still stay in touch with old neighbors from places where I have not lived in decades.  I have never regretted hosting these occasional events. Depending on what is easiest, you can invite a group over for morning coffee, lunch, dinner or evening cocktails.  A potluck dinner is fine, if you do not want to provide all the food, or if you know that some of your guests have allergies or may prefer different types of food from what you plan to serve.  You do not have to do it often, but try to entertain a small group at least once or twice a year.  You will get to know your neighbors better at an informal social event.  A few of them will reciprocate by inviting you to their social events. You will go from being acquaintances to becoming friends.  This actually keeps you safer, because people are more likely to look after neighbors they know and consider friends.

Stay in touch with people - Perhaps the most important thing you can get out of the above activities is building a large support group of people.  However, they will quickly fade away if you do not stay in touch.  It is not enough to attend a concert with a friend and then never see that person again.  You have to nurture these relationships. You have to take the lead.  Do not wait for someone else to do it. Do more than your "fair share" in the relationship. 
Send out holiday cards with a little update about what has been going on in your life.  Buy birthday cards and cards for other celebrations at the dollar store, and send them out when appropriate.  Ask people to go out for coffee with you, especially before or after a meeting, or whenever you want to discuss the plans for a volunteer event.  In other words, do not wait for people to contact you.  Reach out to them and do it as often as possible to maintain that relationship.  Show an interest in their lives, their celebrations, their worries.  Ask about their children, grandchildren and pets. If you do all that, you will have friends for life, you will stay mentally alert, and you may even live longer!

Share contact information with several friends - If your nearest family member lives in another state, it is wise to share their contact information with several of your friends and/or neighbors. Then, if something should happen to you, your friends and neighbors will know who to contact.  Nothing can be more frustrating than to realize that a friend of yours has had an accident or serious medical event, and you do not know how to contact their adult children, siblings or other relatives.  It is thoughtful to share this information with a small circle of friends.  You should also let your out-of-town relatives know about the friends who have their contact information and would contact them in an emergency.  Then, if they receive a call from a stranger, they will know that you gave them the information.  
The most important thing you can learn from this is that you are never too old to make new friends, get involved in new activities, and nurture your relationships.  In fact, it is important that you do these things your entire life.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues as you age, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Balance Exercises Keep You on Your Feet!

Many people worry about losing their cognitive ability as they age, and it is a realistic concern.  As a result, they may watch their diet, get exercise and work crossword puzzles.  What many seniors do not realize, however, is that a serious risk to their memory and brain health is the possibility of falling and hitting their head.

According to the National Council on Aging, one out of every four people over the age of 65 will fall each year.  Every 11 seconds, a senior is treated for a fall in an emergency room.  Every 19 minutes in the United States an older person dies from a fall.  Fall prevention and the protection of your brain from trauma is extremely important for anyone who wants to live a long, healthy life.

Exercises to Improve Your Balance

In the retirement community where we live, balance is a component of nearly every exercise class, whether you are taking yoga, tai chi, or an aerobics class.  One way to prevent falls is to strengthen your muscles and, at the same time, concentrate on your balance.  There are a variety of types of balance exercises which can benefit you, and they can be done easily at home by most healthy adults.

First of all, you do not want to fall while you are doing your balance exercises.  As a result, make sure you have a wall or stable chair near you to help you stabilize yourself as you gain strength.

Stand on one leg - Place your hand on a wall or chair, put your weight on one leg and lift your other foot off the floor. You can tap your foot on the floor ahead of you or to the side. Switch legs. Start with just a half dozen repetitions on each leg.  If you are not comfortable standing on one leg with the other in the air, try putting all your weight on one leg and use the toes on the other foot to maintain your balance.  Eventually, you may be able to stand on one leg while lifting the other a few inches off the floor.

Deep knee bends - In order to strengthen your thighs and calves, put your back against the wall and lower your body until you are in a deep knee bend.  Once you are as low as you can safely and comfortably go, lift your heals off the floor as you straighten your legs and stand back up.  Gradually, this will make your legs stronger and they will be better able to hold you up.  Don't overdo it when you start, because your legs will be sore! You also want to be careful not to go too low at first, so you don't slip, or slide down the wall.

Leg lifts - Strengthen you core muscles by laying on the floor with your hands next to your side.  Slowly raise your legs until they point towards the ceiling; then lower them.  This will strengthen your abdomen and help you maintain your balance.  If you cannot do both legs at the same time, do one at a time or bend your legs while lifting them.  That will take some pressure off your lower back.

Rear leg lifts - Get on all fours on the floor.  Stretch one of your legs behind you and lift it a few times.  Switch legs.  This will help strengthen your back muscles, another muscle group which is important for balance.

Stand on your toes - Whenever you are standing around for a few minutes, you can strengthen your legs and improve your balance by doing simple things such as standing on your toes for ten to twenty seconds at a time. Repeat several times a day. Do NOT do this in the shower or on some other slippery surface.  However, it is a great exercise to do while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for something to heat up in the microwave.  

All of these exercises can be done in a few minutes and should be repeated several times a week.  In this way, you will maintain your strength and reduce your risk of falling.  If you make them part of a regular exercise class or regimen, you are even more likely to stick with them.  Check with your local senior center to see if they offer exercise or balance classes for seniors.  Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, some communities are offering outdoor classes.

Other Ways to Protect Your Brain from Falls
In addition to maintaining your strength, there are also other important ways to protect your brain from falls.  Here are a few reminders:

Do not climb onto chairs, counters or high ladders.  One accident could do irreparable damage to your brain.

Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter or any similar moving vehicle.  The motion of the vehicle could make it easier for you to lose your balance.

Use a cane or walker if your doctor recommends one.  These devices are designed to prevent falls and keep you moving, even when you are having difficulties with your strength or balance.

Remove rugs, extension cords, or anything else in your home which could cause you to trip and fall.  Put away shoes and packages so they are not sitting where they could cause you to trip.  

Watch where you are going.  It is easy to be distracted when walking your dog or chatting with a friend.  This could cause you to fail to notice a curb, stairs, uneven sidewalk, tree root, or other hazards. Pay attention to what lies ahead as you walk.
You may also want to read a book like "Better Balance for Life: Banish the Fear of Falling with Simple Activities Added to Your Everyday Routine." (Ad) It has many helpful suggestions to reduce your risk of falling.
Remember:  The last thing you want to do is cause your own death or dementia because of a fall.  Being cautious will help keep you safe!

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Elefend Defends Against Scam Phone Calls - Learn How it Works

One issue which continues to be a problem for senior citizens is the prevalence of scams, and many of those scams start with a simple phone call.  These scammers are experts.  They carefully study the best ways to contact senior citizens and generate fear in them.   They use this fear to trick seniors into needlessly sending scammers billions of dollars every year to "protect themselves" from fake problems.

The issue has become such a big problem that fines do not deter many of these scammers.  Some people have even found a way to fight back and make money from the fines, by reporting scam phone calls, as explained in the book, "Stop Telemarketing Calls and Get Paid." (Ad)

Unfortunately, most senior citizens do not report the calls, and they are not experts in knowing whether or not the voice on the other end of that phone call is providing a legitimate and necessary service, or if the caller is deceiving them into giving away their hard-earned money.  As a result, I was intrigued when I was approached by the company Elefend about their service, which "monitors calls from strangers in real time and detects if it is a scam."  This could save Americans billions of dollars.  I invited the company representative, Arianna Powell to submit a guest post about their product for your consideration.  

Their service currently works on the T-mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon networks. There is no need to download an app.

You can read more about their product below.

Elefend Scam Protection

by Arianna Powell

$37 billion are stolen every year from America’s elderly. Scams are a HUGE problem; it is an epidemic which is only getting worse, especially now that COVID-19 has left older adults more socially isolated.

Phone calls are known to be the primary channel through which the ruthless perpetrators operate (according to the FTC, 70% of fraud attempts happen over the phone). In order to fight this prevalent problem, Elefend has developed a software solution which will prevent and combat phone scams and identity theft.

Elefend monitors calls from strangers in real-time, providing in-call detection.  It can help prevent scam & identity theft (both from humans and robocalls), and allows older Americans to live their lives more safely, without the fear of being scammed.

Existing scam prevention solutions are mainly based on blacklist technology, which checks if the calling number is blacklisted and notifies the person receiving the call. These solutions are becoming ineffective, due to scammers' number spoofing tactics (changing their phone number on-the-go and remaining undetected).

Our goal at Elefend is to keep the public, and especially the elderly population, protected from these cruel scams, both instantly and constantly through our novel technology. Elefend can easily be installed on any iPhone (or other smartphones which have a built-in option to block unknown callers) by going through a step-by-step process.

Individuals can go to our website ​​ and click on the “Try For Free” button on our main page. Elefend has incorporated a simple, single pricing model which includes a 14-day free trial! This plan includes real-time AI scam detection, in-call warning alerts, unwanted robocall blocking, a screening greeting message, and weekly usage reports.  It is offered at an introductory price of $2.95 per month. We built Elefend to stop phone scams.  This service could be a great gift from adult children who are worried that their elderly parents and grandparents could fall victim to a scam.  It is like having an extra pair of "ears" monitoring calls from strangers and alerting potential victims about possible scams in progress.  It will also automatically block unwanted callers.

Phone scams are an epidemic which needs to be dealt with, and they have recently become even worse due to COVID-19. Every year $37 billion are stolen from America's elderly. 69% of scam attempts in the US are done via the phone, and the existing solutions are outdated and inadequate. Elefend is reintroducing safety to phone calls.

We have built the first real-time (in-call) scam protection software, both from robocalls and live callers. If you have any US-based friends who are interested, they can try out the first version of our startup’s product, and the trial will not cost them anything. We founded Elefend a year and a half ago to protect people from being scammed, after we discovered that the vast majority of scams in the US happen over the phone.

Our Phone Protection solution provides protection during incoming calls from numbers not in your contact list.  We stop malicious robocalls from the outset and, when a call is from a live person, we monitor it in real-time. Once a possible scam is detected, we play an in-call warning which only you can hear.

We are currently working on the T-mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon networks. There is no need to download an app.  Learn more at

* * * * *

If you want to report the scam calls you receive, and possibly earn money for your efforts, you can learn how to do it in the book "Stop Telemarketing Calls and Get Paid." (Ad)

If you are interested in learning more about protecting yourself from scams, common medical issues as you age, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, financial planning, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credits: Elefend and Morguefile

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Yoga For Your Mind, Body and Soul - Try it at Any Age

About 30 years ago, a friend of mine was recovering from breast cancer and her physician recommended she take a gentle yoga class as a way to regain her strength and flexibility.  I went with her, experiencing this soothing form of exercise for the first time.  I was hooked!  When I started, I was not able to do most of the postures, because I did not have enough upper body strength and I was not very flexible.  Today, in my 70s, I am able to do many of the postures I could not do in my 40s. Over the years, I have gradually become stronger and more flexible. Who would ever have thought that I could have more upper body strength and more flexibility in my 70s than in my 40s? 
Over the decades, yoga has become more widely accepted and today it is recommended for a wide variety of health issues ... to lower stress, build strength, become more flexible, lower blood pressure, and improve balance.  It seems to be a cure-all for many different problems. 
A good way to start is with a yoga video for beginners.  (Ad)  You may also want to pick up a few yoga supplies, such as a mat, a couple of blocks or a strap.  (Ad) If you do not want to buy these things right away, you can always practice on your carpet, using rolled up towels and an old belt to help you maintain some of the positions.  Yoga can be a very cheap hobby.  
You may also find free or low-cost classes for seniors in your community. I currently take a free class for seniors from a local community college, taught by an 84 year old teacher!  Prior to that, I took a similar class at a senior center.  I have even taken chair yoga classes that included people in wheelchairs.  Nearly everyone can benefit from yoga, regardless of their physical limitations. 
Because of my personal experience with yoga, I was thrilled to receive this guest post on the benefits of this lovely form of exercise. You can learn more about how yoga can improve the health of senior citizens from the helpful guest post below by Kelsey Simpson.

How to Improve Your Mind, Body, and Soul With Yoga at Any Age


by Kelsey Simpson

Yoga is an ancient practice that incorporates the mind, body, and soul and can improve all three in a variety of ways. Anyone, no matter his or her age, can benefit from yoga. Whether you are young or old, your body will thank you for incorporating yoga into your everyday life. 

Yoga is an activity you can practice for the rest of your life. In fact, an expert from a company which provides independent senior living in NJ pointed out that many retirement communities offer yoga to their residents because the benefits are so vast. If you are new to yoga, you may be wondering how these gentle movements can improve so many aspects of your body. This post will detail how yoga enhances the human body at any age.

What Are The Benefits of Yoga?

Whether you are sixteen or sixty-five, yoga is something you should try to practice multiple times a week, if not every day. Learning yoga is not hard, and it doesn’t even need to cost you money, if you choose to practice yoga at home via online videos. Because yoga is so ancient, and there are so many theories about how it can best help us, there are many forms of it. Here are a few:





Each form of yoga has its own set of movements and breathing exercises. However, they all work towards improving a person's overall well-being, so you can try several and choose the style which you enjoy the most.  Below are some of the benefits you can expect:

Yoga Can Improve Your Mindset Significantly

Yoga is often used to improve one’s mental state. The practice of yoga can calm you, help you focus, and train you to learn mindfulness. Depending on the type of yoga you choose, different skills will be emphasized; however, all are beneficial.

Yoga is beneficial for all ages because it teaches the mind to focus on what is important and not get too worked up about things which one cannot control. For teens and young adults, yoga is a good way to develop calmness and values which they can use for the rest of their lives. Yoga will help a young person be proactive when it comes to managing everyday life stressors.

For adults and seniors, yoga is a wonderful way to help them deal with the anxiety and stress of work, family, and everyday life. Adults and seniors will learn how to relax when events happen in life which they cannot control. Yoga has the ability to improve one’s mental outlook significantly.

What Are the Benefits of Yoga on the Body?

In addition to helping one obtain a clear and healthy mindset, yoga will also improve your body. People of all ages use muscles throughout their body in yoga practice. Some yoga practices require more movement than others and are more fast-paced. On the other hand, there are yoga classes which focus on one muscle group for a prolonged period of time. Over time, this will strengthen that muscle group.

For younger people, yoga is a great way to stay in shape and keep your heart healthy. Likewise, for adults and seniors, yoga will help you lose weight and preserve your strength, as it requires full-body movement. It is crucial for older adults to maintain their strength as they age, so they can still move around comfortably; yoga will help with that.  Yoga also emphasizes balance exercises, which are so important for seniors in preventing falls.

How Yoga Can Help Your Well-Being

Yoga is not simple, especially when you first start. Adopting mindfulness, and gently moving your body into poses which may initially be uncomfortable or awkward can be challenging.  However, sticking with it, and making an active effort, will help your overall sense of well-being, calmness, and joy. In this way, it improves your feelings of peace and soulfulness.

Pushing yourself to new limits will make you feel accomplished and proud. You will also feel stronger, not only physically, but mentally, which is important for your overall health, peacefulness, and inner soul. Focusing on your movements will allow you to block out the outside world, which can help you develop a sense of calm and peace.

Become a Yogi Today

If you have not started practicing yoga, it will be in your best interest to begin soon. You can start practicing yoga by watching videos (Ad) online in the comfort of your home, or you can join a yoga studio or take a class. No matter where you practice yoga, your mind, body, and soul will be grateful. Start your yoga journey today.

About the Author

Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about topics which help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues as you age, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, financial planning, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits:  Pixabay