Can Your Aging Loved One Still Live Alone?

Bed with decorative pillows in a retirement community.

Throughout the course of our life, we all need help in one way or another, but how we define it changes as we age. It might come as insight on homework as a young student, or collaboration with an office colleague as an adult, or assistance with grocery trips as a senior because as The Beatles sang it, we “get by with a little help from (my) friends.”

Yet as we age, it often becomes harder to admit we need help – especially when it means asking for assistance from those for whom you’ve always been the caregiver. Because of this, it is important to be able to identify signs that a parent or loved one may be struggling with daily tasks or unable to safely live alone. Although the signs may seem obvious, the call for help is often silent.

Is your loved one…

  • Forgetting to take daily medication, supplements or vitamins
    Are they dependent on you or their spouse to remember?
  • Struggling with home maintenance
    Is their spotlessly clean kitchen or pristine landscaping looking messy?
  • Contacting family members about the same issue multiple times.
    Have they called you about an upcoming appointment more than once in a day?
  • Falling or having unexplained bruises on their body
    Are they falling more often or do you have concerns about falls they don’t tell you about?
  • Suffering from multiple conditions that make regular tasks more difficult
    Does your loved one have arthritis and poor vision which can make it difficult to navigate their home?
  • Receiving late notices or calls about unpaid bills or bounced checks
    Are they neglecting to pay their monthly bills on time or losing track of personal finances?
  • Displaying signs of poor personal hygiene or a decline in personal appearance
    Do they have body odor, bad breath, or unclean and disheveled clothing?
  • Driving a vehicle with new or unexplained dents, scratches or missing parts
    Are they having difficulty maneuvering their car because of limitations with eye sight and/or mobility?
  • Showing signs of depression or loneliness
    Would they benefit from socializing with people their same age at a retirement community or organization

While the signs your aging loved one may need help can be easy to spot, having a conversation to address them is often difficult – especially when there is denial from your aging loved one, family members or caregivers.

If your aging loved one is beginning to show signs of decline…

Take time to address home safety concerns with all family members or caregivers like cleaning cluttered rooms, clearing outdoor pathways, installing more stair rails or adding bars in the bathrooms.

Talk about areas of decline as you see them instead of saving it for one big conversation or allowing it to become an emergency situation. You can also plan to discuss areas of concern at doctor’s appointments, as it may be easier for a doctor to have or initiate the dialogue.

Begin to explore a continuing care retirement community (CRCC) and other assisted living options as it is beneficial to understand application and admission processes in addition to any waitlist requirements for communities or home care services. Plus, speaking with an admissions team at a CRCC or home health care service can help you determine exactly what your aging loved one needs to make every day a safe and happy one.

At a continuing care retirement community (CRCC), like St. Anne’s Retirement Community, your loved one can find all the levels of care they may need in one place – from independent living, to assisted living, to personal care, to rehabilitation services, to skilled nursing care and memory support. For more information about St. Anne’s Retirement Community, or to discuss the needs of your aging loved ones, please call 717-285-5443.

The Elephant in the Room

Annie the elephant is in our lobby to remind families that they are not alone in dealing with aging, the elephant in the room.Retirement living is one thing, but moving to retirement community living is quite another. The subject can generate a lot of resistance – the “elephant in the room.”

The elephant in the room points to an issue that is not being addressed. The elephant in the room is a hard subject that is easier to avoid.

Aging: The Elephant in the Room

As it turns out, in the matter of aging, there is a huge elephant in the room. We at St Anne’s call that elephant “Annie,” and she is so common that many, if not most of you reading this, already know what is meant:

  • Aging parents, relatives and friends who are unable to recognize their own situation.
  • Loved ones, otherwise responsible people, who are unable or unwilling to take personal responsibility for their aging.

Pro-active aging or pro-aging is to anticipate and plan for the “next step” of life. It is a measure of personal maturity and, in pro-aging families, there is little or no Annie in the room. However, we are living in a time when people are living longer than in previous generations and the responsible thing to do is often met with resistance…even though the answer is obvious to most everyone: the elephant in the room.

We must respect the resistance of our loved ones, even as we must do what needs to be done. We must seek understanding, and where that is not possible, seek counsel regarding best care guidelines.

The decision is not easy and often not black or white…it’s gray, just like an elephant.

How to Manage the Elephant in the Room

St. Anne’s Retirement Community understands the elephant in the room. Every day, families seeking a safe home environment for relatives come to our door and see Annie, our elephant who stands seven feet tall. Her friendly expression brings smiles to faces and serves as a reminder that we are not alone in dealing with Annie, the elephant in the room.

How to Approach the Elephant in the Room:

  • Do not avoid Annie, as it only makes the outcome more averse to all.
  • Gather all parties and make a plan of care for your loved ones.
  • Include your loved ones in every step of the process.
  • Meet with an expert to help facilitate a difficult conversation and make sure you are clearly seeing the options.

 

St. Anne’s Retirement Community promotes proactive aging by encouraging and facilitating conversations about Annie, the elephant in the room. To meet with our Admissions team and discuss plans for you or a loved one’s future, please call 717-285-5443.

Fraud Against Seniors:
Turn “Why Me?” into “Not Me!”

St. Anne’s Retirement Community

Money doesn’t grow on trees. After years of building up bank accounts and investment funds, why let hard earned money fall into the hands of deceptive criminals?

Why are Seniors a Likely Target for Fraud?

While fraud can affect people of all ages, seniors are often a prime and common target. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, older Americans are more likely to be a victim of fraud for the five reasons:

  1. Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
  2. People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  3. Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  4. When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
  5. Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim

10 Ways Seniors Can Prevent Fraud

Fraud comes in many different forms and through different channels. Whether it’s by phone, online or in-person, there are ways to decrease your chances of being scammed. Here are a few common tips to help avoid falling victim to this crime.

  1. Create strong passwords for online accounts containing capital and lower case letter as well as numbers and symbols.
    • TIP: A great way to develop and REMEMBER such a password is tying it to a sentence, for example: “My daughter Judy was born in 1960” would translate to the password “MdJwbi1960”.
  2. Do not open emails from people you don’t know. Beware of emails with generic subjects like “Hi” or “Hello”, or no subject at all.
  3. Never trust a call or letter claiming you’ve won a lottery, contest or drawing if you have to:
    • Pay a fee upfront to claim your prize.
    • Deposit a check for more than you’ve won and wire the difference.
  4. Think twice before wiring money to any source as it is nearly impossible to ever get the funds back.
  5. Ask questions if you receive a call from a “family member” in need of emergency funds.
    • A true family member or relative would be able to answer questions about other family members or traditions. If the caller can’t answer your questions correctly, hang up!
    • Offer to call the “family member” back and use a phone number YOU have on file. DO NOT USE the number the caller provides to you.
  6. If you’ve purchased an item from an online source, like Craigslist or internet yard sales, and agree to meet in person, consider using the parking lot of your local police station to exchange money for goods.
  7. Never give personal information (social security number, date of birth, account numbers, PIN numbers, etc.) over the phone or on the internet unless you initiated the call and know how the information will be used.
    *If you gave out information to such a source, contact your financial institution immediately.
  8. Avoid using public WiFi with a shared or unsecured password to transmit personal information because it can easily be intercepted by fraudsters.
  9. Do your RESEARCH!
    • Example 1: IRS Scams
      • If you receive a call from the IRS claiming you owe money, HANG UP and visit the IRS’ website for notices about current scams from IRS imposters.
      • According to the IRS website (www.irs.gov), “The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. In addition, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.”
    • Example 2: Contest Scams
      • If you’ve won a contest you don’t remember entering, contact the church or organization sponsoring it for more information. It is also helpful to search online for articles regarding the validity of similar calls in your area or nationwide.
  10. Call someone you trust for advice!
    • Example: If your grandson calls for emergency funds, contact his parents before sending any money, providing account information, etc.

Fraud can rear its ugly head at any time and impacts people of all ages. From telephone scams to online hoaxes, it’s important to understand the types of fraud impacting your local community and scams occurring nationwide.

A good rule of thumb is NEVER respond to unexpected requests for money or personal information, and contact someone you trust when fraud knocks on your door.

You’ve built your nest egg, and now it’s time to enjoy it! After all, you earned it.

Tips on Downsizing for Retirement

Empty cardboard box for downsizingWinter is here, and with it comes cold weather causing you to spend more hours indoors than out. Rather than let Old Man Winter give you the blues, use your time inside free up space and begin to downsize for retirement.

While scaling down may seem like a daunting task, there are many obvious places to start, like spare closets, garages and extra bedrooms. Sort through items carefully to identify family mementos to pass onto younger generations and things that can be donated to charity or thrown away. Where ever and whenever you begin, keep one goal in mind – downsize, downsize, downsize!

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

Kitchen Appliances – If you haven’t ground your own coffee beans, squeezed your own citrus juice or made your own pasta in years, it’s time to take back the cabinet space. You can also eliminate serving dishes, extra plates, etc. to make room for a smaller kitchen in a retirement community.

Entertainment Equipment – In a small apartment or cottage, you may not have room for large entertainment centers or old, large televisions. Scale back the furniture on which your television set is displayed and watch for store promotions in the fall and winter if you wish to purchase a more compact, better quality and lighter weight TV.

Outdoor Furniture – If you enjoy spending time outside, there’s no reason to stop doing it when you’re retired! Look for ways to reduce the size or amount of your patio furniture, because chances are, the space in a retirement community will be smaller than in a residential development. If you need to buy new furniture, wait until the end of the summer for reduced prices on patio sets.

Bedroom Furniture – Most retirement communities offer one or two bedroom residences. Consider donating furniture from additional bedrooms that don’t have nostalgic value. In addition, consider keeping smaller pieces over larger ones in the event that your new bedroom(s) are smaller than in your current home.

Holiday Decorations – As you celebrate holidays throughout the year, donate any decorations you haven’t used or those to which you have no sentimental attachment. In addition, you can eliminate items in storage by decorating for the season instead of specific holidays – i.e. winter themed décor vs. Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day.

Outdoor Maintenance Equipment – Many times, retirement communities will handle the lawn care, snow removal and general landscaping for Residents. So, you won’t need equipment like lawn mowers, snow blowers or leaf blowers, etc.

Childhood Memorabilia – If you’ve been storing artwork, prom dresses, bridesmaid gowns and other items created or used by your grown children, it’s time to talk to them about taking the things they want to keep and donating the rest to charity.

Clothing – If you haven’t worn an article of clothing in the past year, free up the space by donating or consigning it! A popular way to determine unnecessary clothing is to turn the hangers backward in your closet, and at the end of the season, anything that is not facing the correct way can be eliminated from your wardrobe.

Old Documents – If you have a filing cabinet full of documents over a decade old, consider cleaning out. Look up recommended time periods for retaining certain items like tax filings, medical bills, etc. and shred anything with personal information like social security numbers or account numbers.

As you approach retirement, it’s important to not only understand the financial aspects, but to be prepared to embark on the journey itself. If you plan to move into a retirement community like St. Anne’s, downsizing is essential and tackling it early can help minimize the stress of doing it at an older age, completing it within a short timeline or leaving it to your children, relatives or friends in the future. The task might even take you on an unexpected and enjoyable trip down Memory Lane.

Good luck and happy downsizing!