Seven Great Hobbies for Senior Well-Being

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthThere are many proven benefits to seniors having hobbies, including improved memory, lower stress, a stronger immune system and a better night’s sleep.1 Having a hobby has also been linked to a lower risk of heart attack.2 If you’ve retired or your kids have moved out of your home, you finally have the opportunity to pursue your passions. However, there are a lot of activities out there, so knowing your options can give you more time to stay happy and occupied. For this post, Staying Put at Home looks into a few recreations that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Gardening

Get some fresh air by tending to your garden. Spending some days gardening can reduce stress, plus you can also raise fresh fruits and vegetables to support a healthy diet. Furthermore, gardening has been associated with better dexterity, stronger brain health and lower stroke risk.3 If your house doesn’t have room for a garden, don’t worry: many cities have community gardens. Working in your community garden can also introduce you to a broad spectrum of people, increasing your social circle should you so desire.

Coloring

It is wonderful to find an outlet for your creativity. While you might not have had time to dabble in the arts earlier in your life, now that you are Aging in Place, you can get your creative juices flowing. Don’t feel like painting your masterpiece quite yet? Then enjoying an adult coloring book could be up your alley. This activity has become wildly popular; adult coloring books are now among the most popular items on the Amazon bestseller list. Moreover, this calming pastime has been found to lower stress.4

Scrapbooking

Making scrapbooks can be a pleasant trip down memory lane. Consolidating all your photos and mementos into easy-to-find books will make it effortless to access them at a moment’s notice. It will also encourage you to declutter and give you more space around the house. Best of all, if you find a partner to scrapbook with, you can trade anecdotes about the photos, postcards, etc.

Cooking

With all the time that Aging in Place affords, you can finally make yourself a feast. Even if you don’t consider yourself a master chef, cooking can still be very rewarding. Plus, putting together a meal will cause you to get up and moving, helping your mobility in the process. It’s also worth reminding to always move safely and avoid any kitchen fires.

Quilting & Knitting

Not only are quilting and knitting fun, soothing activities that can make the hours flow by, but they also will give you a nice blanket for all your work. Beyond this material reward, knitting can alleviate anxiety and potentially prevent arthritis.5

Sketching, Oil Painting and Water Colors

Painting and sketching can be a way to express your creative side. Many senior centers and community colleges offer painting classes and courses in case you want a more structured, communal environment. If that isn’t your cup of tea, then you can easily paint from the comfort of your own home. The great thing about sketchbooks is that they are easy to move around, so you can take them with you to any meetings or appointments you might have.

Exercise

Although many view exercise as a chore, small activities like a walk around the block or some light stretches could assist your mobility down the road. Staying Put at Home has explored some great exercises for seniors. Remember to follow a routine that you’re comfortable with and to check in with a physician first.

Most importantly, you can be a novice at any age. We hope that this post has spurred some ideas for new and exciting hobbies. Many senior centers also offer classes and events focusing on these activities, so you can meet like-minded people who share your enthusiasm. If you have any hobbies that you think our readers should know about, then please share in the Staying Put at Home comments section.


1. 6 Health Benefits of Having Hobbies & Leisure Activities | Return to Text
2. 6 Surprising Ways to Ward Off Heart Attacks | Return to Text
3. 6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening | Return to Text
4. Coloring Isn’t Just for Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress. | Return to Text
5. Health Benefits for Those Who Stick to Their Knitting | Return to Text

Staying Active With Friends, Family and Your Community: Knowing Where to Look

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthAs we get older, it’s common to lead a more solitary life. In fact, over 11 million men and women above the age of 65 who do not live in a care facility live alone.1 Furthermore, the rate of loneliness has gone up in the United States, with 40 percent of seniors saying they feel lonely.2 If you are Aging in Place, then you might not have the community of an assisted living facility to rely on. Isolation may not only make you feel lonely, but it can also affect your health, as those who identified as lonely were 59 percent more likely to have functional decline in daily activities compared to their non-lonely peers.3 In this post, Staying Put at Home considers what you can do to stay up-to-date with your friends and social network while also forming new friendships within your community.

How to Connect With Loved Ones and Stay Active in Your Community

Loneliness doesn’t need to affect your health or your daily life. Here are just a few ways you can connect with your community and nurture existing relationships:

  • Seniors can use Skype, FaceTime or other video chat software to talk with long-distance friends and loved ones. While it is not exactly the same as having your friend in the living room with you, it is a step up from talking on the phone.
  • Connect with friends and family on social media. Studies show that using social media websites foster connectivity and community.4 By using Facebook or Twitter, seniors can check-in on friends and loved ones.
  • Look into classes at your local college or university. Many colleges allow older adults to audit classes for free or at a discounted rate. This can let you develop relationships with people across a broad age range, exposing you to new perspectives you might not find otherwise. Not only can you meet new people, but you can develop new skills and stay sharp by challenging yourself.
  • Visit your local senior center. These facilities usually have group activities, exercise programs and classes that can introduce you to other seniors in your area. You might even develop a new hobby and make some new friends. Most community and senior centers offer helpful computer and social media classes.
  • Research senior networks in your area. For example, Pasadena, CA has the Senior Care Network, which offers programs and classes for seniors and helps coordinate care and service delivery.5 Not only is this a convenient method to get care, but it can be a great way to meet others who are in a similar living situation.
  • Volunteer, if you are able. If there is a cause or organization that you are especially interested in, then volunteering can help give you a feeling of accomplishment. It can also introduce you to people with similar interests, which can foster new relationships.
  • Sign up for Meals on Wheels. Even if you don’t need the meal, the group will send someone to your home on a routine basis who can check up on you.
  • Adopt a pet or visit an animal. Therapy animals have been shown to help seniors feel relaxed, lift moods, ward off heart disease and lower health care costs.6 While it isn’t realistic for many seniors to take care of an animal, many communities offer programs that help seniors connect with animals. One example is Pets for the Elderly. Caring for a pet can also give a senior a sense of purpose, which can combat depression.

Always remember that you have options when it comes to building and maintaining relationships. We hope that our look into the potential solutions to senior loneliness helps. If you have your own suggestions, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in the comments section.

1. Fighting Senior Isolation? You’re Not Alone | Return to Text
2. When Being Alone Turns to Loneliness, There are Ways to Fight Back | Return to Text
3. How to End the Senior Loneliness Epidemic | Return to Text
4. Does Posting Online Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? | Return to Text
5. About Huntington Hospital Senior Care Network | Return to Text
6. Pet Therapy and the Benefits of Pets in Senior Living | Return to Text

A Safe Haven from the Cold: How to Keep Yourself Warm at Home This Winter

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthAs temperatures dip and large snowstorms hit the east coast during this year’s winter, it’s important to remember to stay warm. This proves especially true for seniors, who are more susceptible to hypothermia, pneumonia and bronchitis.1 2 3 These conditions are thankfully avoidable if you take the necessary precautions. In this post, Staying Put at Home looks at how to keep you and your home warm during these cold winter months.

How to Stay Warm

  • Bundle Up: Wrapping yourself in a blanket or wearing extra layers of clothing can help you keep your body temperature up. Just make sure that you can easily maneuver while in these extra layers, as you don’t want them to be a tripping hazard. It’s also worth noting that you lose most of your warmth through your head, so a cap can very effectively keep you warm.
  • Keep Your Curtains Closed at Night: Making sure your window coverings are closed can help trap heat inside your home. If you live in a cold climate, then consider getting insulated curtains, which will help retain the heat in your home.
  • Check Your Vents: If your vents are closed, then you might be blocking heat from entering your room. Furniture may also be blocking your vents, so check to see that your vents have no impediments.
  • Close the Door: As with open curtains, heat often exits through open doors. Shut the door between each room to keep the temperature up.
  • Cover Up Cracks and Caulk Leaks: We can’t reiterate enough how easy it is for heat to slip out of your home. Prevent outside drafts from flowing into your home by covering thresholds and repairing holes. Plugging up holes and leaks will make your home much warmer. Also consider covering your keyholes, as these often overlooked openings can let cold air seep in and allow heat to escape.
  • Reverse Ceiling Fans: Many ceiling fans have a “winter” setting, which will make them run clockwise in reverse. Because heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push heat back down into the room. All you need to do is flip the switch that comes standard on most ceiling fans.
  • Cook: It might sound odd, but cooking will make your kitchen warmer, which will help ward off chilly temperatures. Just make sure you remember to turn off the oven or stove after use! Warm foods and drinks (like soup or tea) can also help keep your temperature up. With that said, remember to eat or drink them at a safe temperature. You don’t want to scald yourself.

 

Visit a Medical Professional if You Feel Under the Weather

If you feel sick or cold, do not hesitate to visit a doctor. A cold during a low temperature can quickly grow into something more serious. Make sure you regularly take your temperature during winter. If your body temperature falls below 96 degrees, then call for emergency help.

Energy Plans Can Help Save Money on Warming Your Home

Many state governments offer plans to help those with fixed incomes or low incomes save money on heating their homes. For example, California has the California Low Income Home Energy Assistance plan, which helps those with a low income offset the cost of heating their home. California electric companies, like Southern California Edison and PG&E, also offer discounts through the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) programs. These programs provide assistance for those on Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as those who meet certain income requirements. To check whether your state offers any financial assistance for home heating, visit http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/ENA.

We hope that these tips will help you stay toasty during this chilly winter. If you have any tips you would like to share with the Staying Put at Home community, please write in our comments section.


1. Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard | Return to Text
2. Why The Elderly are More Susceptible to Pneumonia | Return to Text
3. An Overview of Bronchitis | Return to Text

Hydrotherapy: What You Need to Know

 Staying Put at Home Tips for Pain ReliefIn an effort to counteract the health conditions that come with age, many seniors are turning toward treatments that have been practiced for millennia. One such method that is growing more popular is hydrotherapy, which is the use of water to relieve discomfort and improve physical well-being. This idea dates back to the ancient Greeks, who used bathing as a way to stave off illness. In this post, Staying Put at Home will review how hydrotherapy works and the potential physical benefits.

What is Hydrotherapy?

There are a few different ways that water can be used as a form of therapy. The Kneipp system, named after its founder Sebastian Kneipp, involves the use of hot and cold water on the skin. External hydrotherapy uses the immersion of the body in water or the application of water to the body. Balneotherapy (from the Latin balneum, meaning bath) is bathing in naturally occurring heated mineral water. Exercising in water is yet another form of hydrotherapy, as it relieves arthritis symptoms, increases flexibility, improves cardiovascular functions and strengthens muscles.

While hydrotherapy usually conjures images of relaxing in a pool or tub, this treatment can also include compresses, poultices and towel wraps. Steam inhalation is another form, as it can open up congested sinuses and lung passages, making it easier to breathe.

As with any kind of treatment, people have different tolerances. What works well for one person can cause pain and aches for another. Find the method of hydrotherapy that works best for you. It can be a good idea to avoid extremes when using hydrotherapy. Cold water hydrotherapy is not recommended for seniors, as it can lead to hypothermia.1 Warm water hydrotherapy should also be approached with caution, as it can lead to overheating.

How Hydrotherapy Works

Heat can be used to slow down the activity of internal organs. This causes blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow and sends blood to the skin’s surface, thereby opening the pores and relaxing the muscles. In addition, the warm water will cause the endocrine system to relax. Due to this, a person’s blood pressure will likely go down. The water’s hydrostatic effect can also feel like a massage to the bather, which reduces stress by helping the bather feel and relaxed and at ease.

Water buoyancy can also reduce a person’s weight by roughly 90 percent, depending on the person’s size and the depth of water. So, when a person is submerged in water, gravity’s effects are reduced and the person’s joints have an increased range of motion. This will make joints feel looser, helping alleviate pain from arthritis.

A bath between 97.7 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and a five minute immersion should be enough to activate the hydrotherapy benefits. But, as we said, it’s important to find a comfortable temperature that works best for the individual bather.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy’s impact on internal and external organs has been shown to be overwhelmingly positive. Just a few of the ways hydrotherapy can benefit its user include:

  • Muscle relaxation2
  • Reducing pain and inflammation from arthritis
  • Helping to induce sleep
  • Preventing headaches, as the arteries in your head will have lower blood pressure
  • Fighting infection by speeding up blood flow and the movement of your immune system’s white blood cells
  • Treating muscle injuries and relieving muscle disease by bringing blood flow to the body’s soft tissue
  • Helping diabetics control their blood sugar by increasing blood flow and maintaining glucose levels
  • Clearing out respiratory infections by relaxing swollen lung canals and air sacs, thereby helping fluids and mucus move out of the lungs
  • Potentially treating depression by alleviating stress and tension, creating a calm feeling3

The point about diabetics is especially important. It is estimated that only 1 in 3 senior diabetics has the condition under control.4 With so few being able to adequately manage their diabetes, hydrotherapy presents a possible option to improve health.

Hydrotherapy and Walk-in Bathtubs

A walk-in tub can be a great way to take advantage of the healing benefits of hydrotherapy. The water and temperature setting controls make it easy to achieve the optimal therapeutic bath. Many walk-in tubs are constructed with air and/or water jets that focus water toward your neck, back, shoulders, hips, legs and feet. This massaging sensation will relieve tension in the areas that need it most. Best of all, you can treat yourself at any time in your own home. There’s no need to spend exorbitant prices for a visit to the spa when you can enjoy the same benefits in the safety and comfort of your home.

Hydrotherapy is an effective treatment for many of the ailments that are affecting seniors and those with chronic pain. We hope that our blog post helped clarify how and why hydrotherapy is a productive option when treating a multitude of conditions.

Is there something you would like to add? Then please share with the Staying Put at Home community by posting a comment.


1. Bath Water Temperature Safety for the Elderly | Return to Text
2. Hydrotherapy Information | Return to Text
3. A Cold Splash–Hydrotherapy for Depression and Anxiety | Return to Text
4. Just 1 in 3 Seniors With Diabetes Has the Condition Under Control | Return to Text

Hourglassalbum.com Hopes to Slow Memory Loss and Dementia

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthSean Christensen, former employee of Bliss Tubs, has not stopped thinking about how to help seniors. The current University of Southern Carolina medical student has partnered with his classmate, Robert Gereige, to establish a new website that they hope will help seniors and their caretakers slow memory loss and dementia.

Hourglass (www.hourglassalbum.com) uses images from pop culture to reignite memories from the user’s youth. All you need to do is put in your year of birth, your hometown and your gender. The website will then give you a series of images with the prompts of “Like” and “Nope.” Clicking either will move you to the next image.

According to the website’s founders, Hourglass also allows facilitators to work with Alzheimer’s patients to customize the series of images, using photos that they know will evoke a response. Along with their colleague Regis Blanc, Christensen and Gereige have come up with an algorithm to best match the photos to a person’s age, gender and location, finding the images that will have the most potent effect.

The students hypothesize that a trip down memory lane could help seniors preserve their recollections longer. Research has shown that reminiscence therapy might be a viable method to fight dementia.1 This is demonstrated in the documentary Alive Inside, a clip of which is embedded below:

By triggering memories, seniors would be able to improve their power of recall. In doing so, dementia’s impact on the elderly could be severely weakened. This change would make it easier for seniors to continue aging at home, as they would not need to relocate to a senior living center in order to get support.

So far, Hourglass has been pilot tested on non-dementia patients in the geriatric unit at the Palmetto Health Richland. These initial tests were promising, as the patients’ anxiety levels decreased as they flipped through the images.

Hourglass was developed from the duo’s social media website TimeStash (www.timestash.com), which used videos and photos from pop culture to stimulate users to share content. However, Hourglass focuses more on senior audiences. At this moment, the website is still developing. The pair hopes to interview more older patients to build their database and get a more comprehensive impression of what pop culture photos will provoke a response. Christensen and Gereige are also concentrating on finishing medical school.


1. Reminiscence therapy: Finding meaning in memories | Return to Text

What You Need to Know About Medical Alert Devices

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home Safety Having the security of a medical alert device or personal emergency response system (PERS) in your home can help you feel more confident about Aging in Place, as you’ll have somebody available in case of emergency. In a 2005 survey, 75.6% of participants said they felt more secure with a medical alert device.1 This week, Staying Put at Home looks at what a medical alert device is and what you need to know before getting one.

What is A Medical Alert Device?

Are you afraid of falling at home? Are you apprehensive about staying in your house because of this? Medical alert devices are designed to address this concern. These appliances usually include a pendant that you can wear around your wrist or neck and a base station that is plugged into your wall. In case of emergency, you can push a button on your pendant, which will send a signal to your base station, alerting your dispatcher that you are in distress.

What Questions You Should Ask About a Medical Alert Device

Not all medical alert devices offer the same services. Think about what you are looking for in a medical alert device and make sure you get the one that suits your home and your needs. We’ve gathered a few questions you should ask to help find out which medical alert device is your best option:

  • Is my monitoring station open 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Who does it notify when my button is pushed? What is the dispatcher’s training? What is their response time?
  • Does my medical alert device use a landline or is it cellular? (This is important if you do not have a landline in your home.)
  • How far is the range of my medical alert system? Will my pendant work from anywhere in my home?
  • Do I install my medical alert device or does your company have someone who will do this? If you do have an installer, will you charge me extra to install it in my home?
  • Do I own my medical alert device? Am I just leasing it? What happens if my equipment is damaged? Is it waterproof?
  • Does my device come with automatic fall detection?
  • Is a mobile 911 phone included with purchase of the medical alert device?
  • Is it certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL)?

Cost

Most medical alert systems cost $25-$75 per month.2 Be wary of any company that charges less than this amount, as they may be cutting corners and not providing you with valuable benefits. Some companies will charge a setup fee, which usually costs $50-$200. Although Medicare will generally not cover the cost of medical alert systems, some state Medicaid programs will assist in payment. For example, HCBS waivers and Consumer Directed Services can be used to fund your medical alert system.3

Read the Fine Print

Inspect your contract carefully before you sign it. Many medical alert systems use long-term contracts that do not have an opt-out clause, trapping you with a system and payment plan you may not want. Some companies will charge you if your medical alert device’s button is accidentally pushed and triggers a false alarm. Other companies may not call 911 if the button is pushed, thereby leaving you stranded in case of emergency. Cancellation policies also differ between some companies, so you might not be able to cancel immediately. Make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for by checking www.fda.gov to find out if a medical alert system’s company has had any recalls or complaints.

Beware of Scams

In 2013, a story made the rounds about calls offering free life alert systems to seniors. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. These scams will often cold-call seniors and pressure them to provide bank account and social security information. They will often use generic names like “Medical Alert USA” and “Medical Alert Systems” to trick people into believing they are legitimate.

In 2014, the scam returned. This time, though, it was an automated message telling seniors that they were entitled to a free device and $3,000 worth of coupons. They instructed seniors to press 1 if they wanted more information and press 5 if they wanted to be taken off the call list. If this happens to you, hang up. If you press 5, the scammers will know that your phone number is working, and they will bombard you with more calls.

We hope that this article has clarified some of the questions about medical alert devices. There are many medical alert companies out there, and we advise you to do your research to find out which one works for you. Did we leave anything out? Please let us know in the comment section!


1. Use of Personal Emergency Response Systems by Older Individuals with Disabilities | Return to Text
2. Medicaid and Personal Emergency Response Services / Personal Safety Monitors | Return to Text
3. Medicaid and Personal Emergency Response Services / Personal Safety Monitors – HCBS Waivers | Return to Text

Staying Safe at Home: Avoiding Overmedication

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthThe average 75 year old takes more than 10 prescription drugs.1 The use of four or more medications is known as polypharmacy. When using multiple medications, seniors run the risk of overmedicating, which can lead to falls, kidney failure and heart attacks. From 2007 to 2009, there were an estimated 99,628 emergency hospitalizations annually for adverse drug events in individuals 65 years and older.2 Not properly adhering to medication regimens is also a major cause of nursing home placement of frail older adults. Elder care attorney and gerontologist Susan B Geffen mentions in her Raising UP Your Parents seminar that polypharmacy can lead to dizziness and falls. This week, Staying Put at Home will look at what you can do to make sure you stick to your prescription schedule and avoid overmedication.

Make A List

How many different medications are you taking? Can you name them all off the top of your head? Even if you can, we still strongly urge you to catalog all of your medication. Overmedication and complications with polypharmacy often arise from uncertainty. Making a list will give you a document you can consult whenever you might get confused. Along with your medications, list any over-the-counter products, vitamins and herbal supplements you take. Just because you can buy something over the counter does not make it less potent than a prescription drug. Furthermore, over-the-counter products can have adverse reactions when mixed with prescription drugs. Keep this list up to date, as one omitted drug could cause unwanted side effects. Make sure that your list is in an easy-to-find place in case of emergency.

When you write your list, make sure you include the following information for each medication:

  • Name and strength of the medication
  • Dosage instructions, including frequency, time of day and food intake
  • Color of the pill
  • Why you are taking it
  • When you started taking it
  • Any food or drug interactions
  • Doctor who prescribed it

Consult Your Pharmacist or Physician

As you age, it is common to have numerous doctors and specialists monitoring your health. With so many doctors, your prescriptions can stack up. Health care professionals often do not consult one another before writing prescriptions, meaning that they may not be aware of all the drugs you are taking. This oversight could lead to overmedication if you are not careful. In order to prevent this, use your list to go over all your medications with your pharmacist or physician. This person should know which drugs will have harmful interactions. Also, use just one pharmacy for all your prescriptions. That way, they will have a record of all the medications you are taking and can alert you to any potential drug interactions.

Do Your Research

A little work now could pay off later. Check all the possible side effects or potential ailments that your medication could induce. Also, always ask your doctors about any potential issues when they are writing your prescriptions and make sure they clearly explain the information. Medication awareness lets you know exactly what you are putting in your body.

Use A Pillbox

A pillbox is a simple tool you can use to stay on top of your medication. Like with a list, keeping your medications organized in one place will help you remember whether you have taken the correct daily dosages. Skipping drugs can have major health consequences, leading to lengthy stays in the hospital. Pill timers can also be useful for reminding you when to take your medication, especially if you have short term memory trouble. If you have a smartphone, consider getting an app that will remind you when to take your medication.

We hope that these tips will help you avoid overmedication and any complications with polypharmacy. If you believe you are suffering from these conditions, visit your doctor or pharmacist immediately. Have any tips that we did not include? Then please share them in our comment section.


1. Digging In On Issue of Overmedicated Seniors | Return to Text
2. Overmedicating The Elderly – The New Epidemic | Return to Text

Aging in Place Essentials: Part 4 – Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthAs you have gotten older, many of your household tasks may have become much harder and more dangerous than they once were. Now, you don’t have to do it alone. In Part 4 of our Aging in Place series, we will look at how you can maintain and modify your home with a little help from Aging in Place Villages, occupational therapists and certified aging in place specialists (CAPS).

Aging in Place Villages

Aging in Place Villages link together independently living seniors. Although a Village might sound like senior housing, residents live in their own homes and take advantage of the village’s support structure. The goal of a Village is to offer the amenities of assisted living without making seniors leave their home. Members pay an annual rate for services like:

  • Housework
  • Transportation
  • Computer and paperwork assistance
  • Meal Delivery
  • Shopping with other members
  • Referrals to vetted contractors
  • Gardening and yard cleanup

Do you need to change a light bulb but don’t want to climb a ladder? Then just call someone from your Village to come over. Villages have many volunteers, so there are younger members who can help you finish your housework. The annual rate for membership varies from a few hundred dollars to about $1000, but many Villages have options for low-income seniors.1 Many Villages have volunteer-first models, in which certain members are responsible for administration. Some Villages hire an administrator so that there is someone running the whole operation. Each Village offers different services, so contact your local Village to learn more.

The Village movement began in 2002 when the Beacon Hill Village enrolled its first members.2 Since then, 150 villages have begun across the country, with 120 more in development.3 In a UC Berkeley study, 55 to 80% of seniors said that their Village had improved their quality of life.4 Joining an Aging in Place Village might make it easier for you to take care of those tough household tasks.

Occupational Therapists

An occupational therapist figures out a person’s goals, tries to make it easier to perform daily activities and evaluates if these goals have been met. If you have vision impairments, restricted mobility or other ailments, occupational therapists can also suggest modifications to make it easier to get around your home. Here are some ways that occupational therapists might assist you Age in Place:

  • Recommend furniture arrangements so that you have clear walkways
  • Develop a plan for you to make it easier to access your frequently used items
  • Teach you basic exercises to strengthen your mobility and make it less difficult to move around your home
  • Label your drawers to make it easier to remember where you keep items
  • Find out how to reduce glare in your home

Occupational therapists provide an individualized service. Each home is evaluated to find the best way to make it fit its homeowner. Physicians and other medical care professionals can refer you to an occupational therapist in your area.

Medicare Part B can also help pay for medically necessary occupational therapy. The therapy cap limit for an occupational therapist is $1,940 per year.5 However, if your therapist or therapy provider provides documentation that your therapy was medically reasonable and necessary, then your Medicare will continue to cover its share above the yearly $1,940 cap limit. As part of the exceptions process, there are additional limits (called “thresholds”). If you get outpatient therapy services higher than the threshold amounts, a Medicare contractor will review your medical records to ensure your therapy was a medical necessity. The threshold amount for 2015 is $3,700.

Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS)

A certified aging in place specialist will look at your home and evaluate which areas need to be safer. They are trained to understand what tools and modifications are needed to safely Age in Place. CAPS professionals are trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders.6 The training process to become a CAPS professional lasts three days and includes classes on communication and building solutions. Certified aging in place specialists also have to complete 12 hours of education every three years. These specialists are not medical or health care professionals. They tend to be occupational therapists, architects or remodelers.

A certified aging in place specialist could help if you are asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I able to bathe without being afraid that I will slip?
  • Could I get a walker or wheelchair through my doorway?
  • How can I safely reach high shelves?
  • Do I need to install grab bars and handrails?
  • How can I get up my stairs safely?

Maintaining your home and modifying it to fit your needs are important aspects of Aging in Place. We hope that the services outlined here will make it easier to keep yourself safe and comfortable in your home as you grow older. Check back in at Staying Put at Home to see the final part of our series on Aging in Place:

Aging in Place Essentials

  1. Introduction
  2. Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
  3. How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?
  4. Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?
  5. How To Make Your Bathroom Safer

1. Retirement Villages: Aging in Community | Return to Text
2. About Beacon Hill Village | Return to Text
3. About VTV Network | Return to Text
4. ‘Village’ Movement for Aging Seniors Faces Some Challenges | Return to Text
5. Medicare Limits on Therapy Services | Return to Text
6. What is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist? | Return to Text

Arthritis-Friendly Exercise: Water Aerobics

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility Is being active a part of your life? If you suffer from arthritis, you might actually do all you can to avoid physical activity. As many orthopedic experts caution, though, trying to stop achy joints with a sedentary lifestyle may result only in more pain when you do move. Too little exercise can also lead to other health problems such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Staying Put at Home understands that not all types of exercise may benefit arthritis sufferers. In fact, high-impact activities might aggravate joint deterioration. However, you can find workout options to fit your interests and health needs. In the last of our series on arthritis-friendly exercise, we discuss water aerobics, an enjoyable way to get moving, get wet and get in shape.

How Water Helps Joints

Why does the Arthritis Foundation recommend water activities for arthritis sufferers? Well, consider how much harder it is to move your arms or legs through water than in air. The resistance you feel has two major benefits. One, it provides a buoyant buffer around your joints. So when you take a step in water, your joints experience significantly less stress than when you walk on land. Two, it requires you to use more energy as you move from point A to point B, which means greater muscle exertion. Stronger muscles take the burden of motion off your joints, and as a result, you can slow their arthritic decline.

What You Can Do in the Water

The possibilities of water exercise are hindered only by your imagination. With the mention of water aerobics, many people think of choreographed movements taught by an instructor. While true that you can reap the benefits of exercise through this type of workout, it is only one of many water activities. You can just as easily walk the shallow section of a pool from one end to the other to get your physical activity. You might also consider another popular pool pastime: swimming. Even if you haven’t perfected your butterfly or freestyle, you can still get a good workout by doing a few laps of your favorite stroke.

Where to Take Advantage of Water Aerobics

If you have a pool in your backyard, you don’t even have to leave your house to enjoy the benefits of water aerobics. But if a private pool isn’t at your disposal, explore your local recreational center or school. Many public facilities have indoor pools that you can use year-round. So no matter how cold it gets outside, you can still hop into a pool and enjoy your favorite water exercise. Community centers often provide water aerobic classes as well. If the idea of working out alone puts you off exercising entirely, enlist your friends for a class so that you can get your heart rate up and catch up all at the same time.

Senior-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions That Are Worth the Effort

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthWhy is the New Year a time of festivity? What makes this occasion one that billions of people celebrate? Though a select few may think of January as just another month on the calendar, many more consider the New Year a new beginning and the chance to realize their life goals. And seniors are no exception.

No matter your age, a new year can provide a starting point for a healthier, safer and more fulfilling future. In fact, setting—and sticking with—your New Year’s resolutions can make the difference between enjoying your senior years in the comfort of your home and having to relocate because of medical needs. Staying Put at Home strives to help every individual who wants to age in place achieve that goal, and our list of senior-friendly New Year’s resolutions can see to it that you get the most out of 2015 and beyond.

Knowing Your Health Numbers

Let’s start with the basics. As the adage goes, knowledge is power. When you know your health numbers, you can make the necessary changes. This information becomes especially important when it concerns your heart and bone health. Hypertension, high cholesterol and osteoporosis typically show no symptoms until a heart attack, stroke or fracture makes their presence known. Only a qualified healthcare provider can assess your health numbers and recommend treatment strategies if a problem is found.

Finding Activities You Love

Working out is not a privilege of only the young. As the National Institutes of Health notes, it is essential to health at every age. So if you don’t exercise, now is the time to start. The benefits of physical activity are seemingly endless—lower blood pressure, better bone density, improved balance and reduced incidence of dementia. Key to reaping these benefits, though, is exercising regularly, so choose an activity you love. You can walk, jog, swim, bike, hike, ski, lift weights… And the New Year is the perfect time to start exploring what interests you the most.

Getting Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Fat, salt and sugar may taste good, but they can lead to serious health issues like obesity, clogged arteries and type 2 diabetes. To protect yourself from these life-threatening conditions, get familiar with the produce section of your local grocery store. Fruits and vegetables should make up at least half of every meal. Like exercise, though, produce doesn’t have to be one size fits all. You have hundreds of options ranging from apples and Brussels sprouts to watermelons and yams to help you become healthier and happier.

Making New Friends

Your emotional happiness can have as much an effect on your health as your physical fitness. Specifically, the social ties you build can lower your stress levels, blood pressure and risk of cognitive decline. If your loved ones live more than a car ride away, though, you can still have an active social life. Communities large and small have senior centers and charities that you can join and support. The Internet too can help you stay in touch with long-distance friends and family through Facebook, Skype and other social media channels.

Fall-Proofing Your Home

One of the most important changes you can implement in 2015 is making fall prevention a top priority. Fall injuries account for thousands of senior lives lost each year, and many more elders must contend with life-altering disabilities. When you eat right and exercise, you can significantly cut your fall risk. However, a few at-home changes, including clearing walkway clutter and securing loose cords, can greatly reduce your chances of suffering a fall accident that puts you in the hospital with a fracture or head injury.

What health and wellness changes do you want to make in 2015? Tell us about your New Year’s resolutions in our comments section.