Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Ways for Seniors to Remain Socially Connected

By Helen Antipov

In providing Senior Care and Elder Care in Durham and Chapel Hill, we know that keeping the minds and social connections of our senior loved ones active is every bit as important to as caring for their physical wellbeing. Senior citizens don’t have to slow down or stop feeling young at heart. As a caregiver, there are many fun, low cost and even free activities you can help your senior get involved with so that he or she can enjoy being socially engaged all year round.

The Golden Years can be a time full of interesting places to go and things to do. Now that your senior isn’t tethered to making a livelihood or managing a household like their younger counterparts, they can experience the joy of learning and doing new activities, developing hobbies and managing a social calendar of encounters with friends old and new as they explore and discover their interests.

‘Bloom where you’re planted,’ is an appropriate adage. Seniors can make connections with like-minded people of all ages or find activities geared just for elder adults practically right in their own back yard. Whether it’s exploring local neighborhoods, visiting a museum, taking part in a health fair, signing up for a course at a local adult education center, an area college or university, opportunities abound. Local libraries, and the parks and recreation centers offer activities both indoors and out. Your senior can take up everything from painting and pottery to hiking, cycling or bird watching. Local Y programs and senior centers also offer new learning and recreational programs and often include group activities like bingo, dances, potluck dinners and bus trips to sites of interest as well.

Don’t forget about local churches, temples and synagogues. Sharing faith experiences with others are good for the soul and social interaction. May religious organizations offer experiences like retreats or opportunities to take part in weekly worship services. You senior may have musical talents or choral interests that he or she can offer the community, too.

Volunteering for charity or in the local community is also a great way for seniors to stay active and involved. Everywhere you look there is need for service. The energy, vibrancy, skills and talents of seniors in our society is valuable and needed. The wisdom and knowledge they have are key ingredients to the success of efforts throughout local neighborhoods. From helping feed the hungry in their city, to tutoring students struggling with reading or math, working in a local hospital, teaching music in schools without funding, or helping to house the homeless. Local civic, arts and cultural organizations would also relish the contribution your senior could make.

Still looking for other ideas? Here are some websites that offer even more alternatives:
  1. Love to Know: Lists activities for seniors that are independent and can do activities on their own, and also a small list of activities for those seniors in nursing homes. 

  2. Excellent Senior Activities: A comprehensive list of activities for social seniors who like to do group activities. 

  3. Seniors-site: Activities for those seniors that are in nursing homes and cannot get outdoors. 
Seniorark: A site with a list of 57 hobbies that a senior can do and may enjoy, including indoor and outdoor activities. 
Boomers With Parents: Geared towards adult children and how to create activities for your elderly parents to keep them fit and active. 
Aging: Article for adult children with parents that have dementia, and gives ideas that they can still do together. 
  7. Parent Giving: For adult children who want to keep their elderly parents from getting depressed or melancholy by giving them activities to do. 
  8. Ask Mike: Brain games to keep the aging mind young and fresh, geared towards the older mind. 

  9. Canville: Starting a hobby in older age can increase your happiness, add years to your life and make the retirement age more enjoyable. Written by a geriatric social worker who has years of experience working with older adults. 

  10. Recreation Therapy: Discussion by a Certified Recreation Therapist about the importance of leisure and recreation in the older population. 

  11. Community College Review: College courses for senior citizens are a great way for retired adults to spend time and keep their minds young and active. 

  12. Eldertreks: A website that plans trips for senior citizens, ranges from safaris to backpacking. 

  13. Memory Jogging Puzzles: Memory jogging games for those elders that have memory loss issues. Geared towards art from their generations, with art they grew up with. 

  14. Grandloving: Have fun with your grandchildren: this website has games, activities and trips that a grandparent can do with their grandchildren. 

  15. For senior citizens who are willing and able, the only challenge to staying socially active is narrowing the list of options available!

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that caregivers go through and how hard these family decisions can be. We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

“Inexpensive or Free Group Activities for Senior Citizens for Every Season”, by Carla Fuentes, Yahoo! Contributor Network, www.Yahoo!.com
“Senior Citizen Summer Activities for the Seasned Citizen”, by Charles Manley, Yahoo! Contributor Network, www.Yahoo!.com
“Back to School Guide for Senior Citizens”, by Nora Beane, Yahoo! Contributor Network, www.Yahoo!.com
“47 Posts of Fun Activities for the Elderly Who Are Young at Heart”, by Senior Citizen Housing Staff,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Signs of Fraud Against Seniors.

By Helen Antipov

Dealing with Senior Care and Elder Care in Durham and Chapel Hill and issues of fraud. According to the FTC, nearly 25 million Americans are victims of consumer fraud each year. Seniors continue to be a rapidly increasing segment of the population targeted by con artists. In fact, financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they are now considered to be “the crime of the 21st century.” And this crime against seniors is not always one that is perpetrated by strangers. Over 90% of all reported abuse of seniors is committed by someone in their own family. Shockingly, financial abuse such as depleting joint checking accounts, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, and even outright theft is most often committed by the senior’s own adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others. And it’s not just wealthy seniors who are at risk. Low income older adults are commonly targeted as well.

As a caregiver, how do you protect your senior loved one from falling victim to scams? Protecting your senior comes down to four key actions: being aware, being careful, doing your homework, and asking for help if you find that your senior has been the victim of a financial crisis. Here are the ten most popular scams targeting seniors according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) followed by some practical but important ways to protect him or her, and also next steps to take if you discover that fraud has occurred.
The top ten scams targeting seniors include:
  • Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance fraud. There are endless varieties of this scam aimed at getting the personal information of seniors by scam artists who promise bogus services for elderly people and then use the information to bill Medicare and the n pocket the money.
  • Counterfeit Prescription Drugs. This is most often perpetrated via the internet when seniors search for better prices on specialized medications. Not only is there danger of paying for meds that will not help the senior’s medical condition, but victims may purchase unsafe substances that can cause harm.
  • Funeral and Cemetery Scams. Scammers read the obituaries and take advantage of the grieving widow or widower by claiming the deceased owes an outstanding debt, and then extorts money to settle the false claim. Another scam perpetuated by disreputable funeral homes preys on the unfamiliarity of family members with the considerable costs of services by adding unnecessary charges to the bill.
  • Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products. There is big money in the anti-aging business and many older people seek new treatments and medications to remain looking youthful. Scammers sell senior bogus homeopathic remedies that do nothing.
  • Telemarketing. Scammers commonly use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people. Seniors make twice as many purchases by phone than the national average. With no paper trail or face-to-face interaction, these scams are incredibly difficult to trace. To add insult to injury, once a successful deal has been made, the buyer’s name is shared with other scammers who are on the prowl for easy marks.
  • Internet Fraud. Seniors who are not computer savvy can be easy prey for scams that cause computer viruses that open information on the user’s computer to scammers.
  • Investment schemes. Because many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings after retirement, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of seniors. They can range everywhere from pyramid schemes like the one that Bernie Madoff perpetrated, to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand.
  • Homeowner/Reverse Mortgages. The reverse mortgage has mushroomed in recent years. Unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when perpetrators offer money or a free house somewhere else in exchange for the title to the property.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams. Here scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to make some kind of payment to unlock the prize. Often, this scam involves having the senior deposit the fake prize check into their bank account. The prize amount shows up in their account immediately and takes a few days before it is rejected. In the meantime, the scammers collect money for supposed taxes or fees on the prize as the victim has the ‘prize money’ removed from their account as the check bounces.
  • The Grandparent Scam. This simple scam involves a call to an older person by an imposter grandchild who asks for money to resolve an unexpected financial problem. The money is usually paid to Western Union or MoneyGram which don’t always require identification to collect.
You can help protect your senior and reduce their risk of financial abuse by making him or her aware of the risk of elder financial abuse. Avoiding isolation by staying involved with friends, family, and community activities throughout their lives is likewise helpful. Seniors should also include safeguards in their durable powers of attorney to help prevent those being misused by their agent is another way to secure his or her assets. Refusing to engage with anyone who calls or comes to the door selling anything or looking for donations is another good practice. Using direct deposit for checks will ensure that they go right into their accounts and are protected. And finally, never giving credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare or other personal information out over the phone unless he or she initiates the call is a good way to maintain the integrity of this very private information.
If your senior falls victim to fraud, immediately call his or her bank and/or credit company, cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account, and reset the personal identification number(s). There is help for suspected elder abuse as well. Every state operates an Adult Protect Services (APS) program, the ‘911’ for elder abuse. If you suspect elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, call the Eldercare Locator toll free at (800) 677-1116 to find your local offices.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through in this transition.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.
References “Senior Fraud: A campaign aimed at older Americans to keep them from becoming victims of fraud and identity theft,.” National Crime Prevention Council,
 “Savvy Saving Seniors®,” National Council on Aging,
“Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors,” National Council on Aging,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Eating Well as We Age

We are all used to hearing the basics about maintaining a good diet: eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, stay away from foods that contain too much saturated fat and/or salt, and eat whole grains whenever possible. But as we age, our nutrition requirements change. If senior adults want to continue the good eating habits they’ve already established, making some dietary adjustments can help them stay as healthy as possible as they reach 50-60 years of age and beyond.

What are some basic adjustments seniors can make to their diets?
Although an emphasis on the four major good groups—fruits and vegetables, starches, milk and dairy choices and varied protein sources—is still a good practice for seniors, they should consider making moderations to this basic food plan.

Fiber is more important as we age. This is especially important for seniors as irregularity is often a problem for them, which is exacerbated caused by taking certain medications and also not drinking enough water. Consult your physician about how much fiber you need given your current health. And always make sure you drink plenty of fluids, or adding more fiber could make constipation worse. In addition to helping with regularity, fiber might help protect you against heart disease.

Many seniors do not get enough calcium. Some experts recommend seniors get about 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day. This is especially important to keep bones strong and prevent osteoporosis whenever possible. Low- or non-fat milk offers the benefits of calcium, and also includes Vitamin D and other nutrients so it’s a good choice for seniors as they age. 

Additional good choices for adding more calcium to your diet are: yogurt, calcium-fortified orange juice and soymilk. Your doctor may also have you take calcium supplements.

Pay attention to Vitamin A: While this nutrient is an important component to any diet, too much can put seniors at risk of bone fractures.

Seniors should also pay attention to getting enough iron. This nutrient is important for general health, but it also contributes to how energetic we feel. A great source of iron is red meat. However, most dieticians would suggest limiting the amount of cooked red and processed meat to 70 milligrams per day. 

Eating less salt and more potassium is recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Many seniors grew up in a time when we didn’t know the effects of salting food too heavily. Now it’s clear that too much salt can cause high-blood pressure, especially if it comes from processed sources of food, such as pre-made meals and most snacks. High-blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney damage.

Foods that contain potassium can actually prevent high-blood pressure, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Potassium helps counter-balance the harmful effect of sodium on blood pressure. Your physician or dietitian is the best person to tell you how much sodium and potassium you should consume each day. An average recommendation is: not more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (about 60-percent DV on a food label), and consuming about 4,700 milligrams per day of Potassium.

Foods rich in potassium include white beans, dark leafy greens like spinach, baked potatoes with the skin on, dried apricots, mushrooms and bananas.

Variety is the spice of life
We all tend to eat more of our favorites foods. But eating a varied diet is recommended as seniors age. It helps balance both the digestive system offer the most comprehensive selection of nutrients. Here are some ideas for eating a better variety of foods:

  • If you like meat, try to get other sources of iron in your diet, such as legumes, lentils, eggs and some breakfast cereals with added vitamins.
  •  If you like spinach, try another leafy green vegetable such as Swiss Chard and Kale.
  •  If you typically have milk with your cereal, try mixing with yogurt instead; it makes a great and healthy snack.

Water remains critical
As we age, drinking enough water is as important as ever, especially if you drink caffeinated beverages. Any non-alcoholic drink is a source of fluid intake, including coffee and tea, but milk and fruit juices are best. If you are physically active, drink more fluid than if you’re not. Since we hear different recommendations about how much water per day is sufficient, consult your doctor or dietician.

Stay fit, stay healthy
Getting enough exercise is just as important as seniors age. Exercise will enhance the benefits of good nutrition. But consult an expert on how to modify your exercise as you grow older. If you haven’t exercised regularly, consult a physical therapist about how to start an exercise program. In addition to exercise, consult your doctor or dietitian about adding vitamin supplements to your diet.

Should seniors follow a low-carb diet?
Although a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet is currently considered the best way to lose weight, studies are beginning to show this program may cause Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in seniors. One such study by Medical News Today found that seniors who consumed this type of diet showed a loss in memory and concentration. The researchers believe this affect might be due to a high-carb diet’s impact on glucose and insulin. 

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through in this transition.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

References“Varied diet a better bet for seniors than low-carb fad,” by Pam McGaffin for Healthy Aging Partnership,“How to Choose a Weight-Loss Diet for Seniors,” by Densie Webb for Discovery Health,“Healthy Eating for Older Adults,” by the editors of the Academy and Nutrition and Dietetics, “A Healthier You,” an article supported and published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services based on its Dietary Guidelines for Americans,“Senior Citizens Have Special Nutritional Needs,” by Judith S. Stern, Sc.D. for the UC Davis Health System, “Healthy Eating After 50,” by the editors of the National Institute on Aging,“High-Carb Diet Bad for Elderly Cognitive Function,” by Christian Nordqvist for Medical News Today,

Senior Care Chapel Hill and Durham: When Driving Is No Longer Safe

In providing Senior Care and Elder Care in Durham and Chapel Hill, we see many families faced with whether  the performance of their senior loved one on the road is safe. You want to support his or her continued independence, but on the other hand you worry about their driving abilities.  So, how can you tell when the time has come for someone to stop driving?

Giving up driving is a transition that everyone involved wishes to put off as long as possible. For many older people, the very thought of losing a driver’s license is upsetting to say the least. And with good reason. As a culture Americans rely heavily on cars for our everyday lives and to get where we’re going -- to work, to the doctor, religious services, shopping, visiting friends and relatives, and sometimes even just to get out for a ride. A vast majority of seniors equate losing their driving privileges with becoming dependent, feeling trapped at home, curtailing the freedom to control when and where they can come and go, and be spontaneous.

It isn’t always immediately obvious when your senior loved one has reached the point where it’s time to give up the car keys. The decline of skills necessary to operate a car safely can occur both suddenly and subtly. There may be a pattern of close calls, violations like citations for driving too slow or too fast, or even minor fender benders or collisions. Your loved one may have increasing difficulty noticing pedestrians, signs, objects, or other vehicles.

Seniors can also have a readily observable decline in physical abilities that could interfere with safe driving. Perhaps arthritic joints or other conditions don’t allow for the full range of motion required to operate a vehicle any longer. He or she may no longer get the physical activity needed to keep strong and flexible for the quick reactions needed for driving.

Vision is obviously a key component of driving ability, and age changes the way our eyes function. Our peripheral vision narrows, the retina becomes less sensitive to light and our ability to focus diminishes. Older eyes are also more prone to cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other vision impairments.

Over one third of adults over 65 suffer from some form of hearing loss. Poor hearing can compromise the ability to hear horns, screeching tires, sirens, and other sounds that would ordinarily alert someone to a potentially dangerous situation.

Medications that seniors take can also significantly impair driving. Side effects of many drugs compromise driving ability by causing drowsiness, blurred vision, confusion, or tremors. Others can also cause your loved one to be distracted or unable to concentrate sufficiently to pay attention to road conditions or other hazards.

As a caregiver, taking the keys away from your senior may be one of the most difficult things you ever have to do. But if you suspect that your loved one is a danger to him or herself or others on the road, don’t wait for a serious accident to happen before you intervene. Here are some practical ways to assess your senior loved one’s driving abilities.

  • Take several drives with your senior at the wheel. Be an objective observer of his or her demeanor. Is he or she tense, easily irritated by other drivers or does he or she tire more after driving? If so, then your senior may be having some anxiety about driving.
  • Is your senior reluctant to drive places, especially at night? Perhaps you senior is becoming aware of his or her own limitations. Ask him or her about it.
  • Do you find that his or her reaction time to traffic lights or other diving cues has slowed?
  • Is he or she aware of the driving environment? Does he or she tailgate, let the car drift close to the centerline? Do you hear complaints of getting lost more than you used to?
  • Walk around his or her car and look for signs of damage that could indicate driving mishaps. If you find more damage than the occasional grocery cart ding, ask him or her to tell you about them.
  • Have you observed questionable driving? Ask about any recent tickets for violations or ask if his or her car insurance rate have increased recently.
  • Finally, check in with trusted friends or neighbors of your loved one to inquire about his or her driving. They may have observed problems but are reluctant to tell you for fear of invading your loved one’s privacy. Once you break the ice and ask, they may want to help you keep your senior safe.

Age is not an absolute predictor of driving ability but as a caregiver it’s important to recognize its impacts on what ultimately counts on the road—performance.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that you and your family go through in this transition.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

“How to Talk to Elderly Adults about Giving Up the Keys,” by Connie Matthiessen, Senior Editor,
“Five Risk Factor for Older Drivers,” by Connie Matthiessen, Senior Editor,
“Eight Ways to Assess Your Parent’s Driving,” by Connie Matthiessen, Senior Editor,
“Older Driver Safety: Warning Signs and Knowing When to Stop,” by Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Monika White, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson.