Monday, October 28, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Join a Senior Center to Improve Health

By Helen Antipov

With senior care and elder care, a consideration is that senior adults are more active than ever. A higher level of health care has led to treatments that help older adults stay healthier and more active as they age. However, because senior adults often look and feel younger, they might miss out on the benefits of friendship, support, education and recreation that a senior center provides.

Maybe your loved one says, ‘I don’t know where there is a senior center in Chapel Hill. I don’t feel old. I don’t know anyone in Durham so I don't want to sit around talking with people I don't know.’

But, many people are questioning the name ‘Senior Center’ because studies show all types of people, including those who are healthy and active, find senior centers in their communities a great resource for a myriad of things. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 11,400 senior centers in the country serve more than one million adults. About 75 percent visit a senior center one to three times per week, and stay an average of 3.3 hours per visit.
At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we can help you find the right senior center and can help get your senior to activities that match what they need and like. 

If you don’t feel old enough to join a senior center, consider these facts, also reported by the NCOA:

  • Older adults who utilize senior centers learn to manage and/or delay the onset of chronic disease and experience significant improvements to their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental—and even economic—well being.
  • A study of nearly 900 people indicated that those seniors who are around 80 years old lived longer if they stayed active. Additionally, it’s been shown that those older adults who are more active are less likely to have memory problems or need a nursing home. This same study debunked the myths that say senior adults aren’t able to learn new things, like a new form of exercise or a hobby, and also that memory loss and a significant decrease in physical aptitude is inevitable.
  • Today’s senior centers are expanding their programming and base of participants, especially as the baby boomer population grows.
Senior Centers offer newer types of programming
Now that senior adults are living longer and staying active into their 80s and even 90s, senior centers now offer a newer variety of programming. With more and more studies showing that active minds help delay Alzheimer's symptoms, a senior center in Chapel Hill and Durham can help those that may be facing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's.

Fitness Programs. Many senior centers offer not only exercise programs designed for older adults, but they also have equipment onsite for members to use.

Job Placement Services. More and more people are enjoying their careers—or a new line of work—well past age 65. Some senior centers offer help and resources for seniors who are looking for work.

Travel Programs. Some senior centers sponsor trips for members that can be one-day or up to a weeklong venture. These programs often include advance planning of the trip, transportation, stops, meals and sleeping arrangements. So all you or your loved has to do is pack!

Lifelong Education. The older adult years are a great time to pursue hobbies you or your loved one never had time for during the busy work and child-rearing years. These can include painting, photography, music, dancing, computer skills and writing. 

Joint Programming with Child and Teen Groups. Seniors and teens can learn a lot from each other. The same is true for younger children. Some senior centers are offering the chance to bring other groups into their facility for special programming.

Gardening Opportunities. Maybe you’ve downsized and don’t have the room to garden like you used to. Or maybe you never had time to learn about growing a variety of plants and flowers. Many senior centers have gardens right onsite that members tend to.

Getting on after loss
If you’ve lost someone close to you, like a spouse or treasured friend, it’s likely you want to stay home. But as you’re going through the stages of grief, it’s often the best time to reach out to others at a senior center, especially because they’ve likely gone through—or are going through—the same tough time.

Even if you have been around many of the same people your whole adult life, experts on coping with loss think it’s never too late to meet new friends. If you’re not sure where to turn, a senior center, and its participants and staff will welcome you in. Getting involved in activities you are passionate about is another way to cope with the loss you or your loved one faces in life’s later years.

How do I find a good senior center?
Like other services, talking to friends is a good way to find out more about a senior center in your locale. You’re likely to find out about them in advertisements, newspapers and TV. Many senior centers are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and you can find out which ones carry that designation. Also look for senior centers who are accredited by the NCOA, although it they aren’t, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a good choice.

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.


‘The Perks of Growing Older,’ by Krisha McCoy, MS and Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD for Everyday Health
‘Return to social life can be fulfilling for suddenly single seniors,’ by the editors of
‘Senior Tips for Great Senior Center Activities,’ by Norma Bean for Yahoo Voices 
‘Staying Healthy Over 50: How to Feel young and Live Life to the Fullest,’ by the editors of

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Weight Struggles and Senior Adults

By Helen Antipov
While providing Senior Care and Elder Care in the Chapel Hill and Durham area, we are often faced with senior nutrition issues. When it comes to weight and maintaining one’s health, we’ve heard it countless times—eat less and exercise more. But most of the specific information we hear is aimed at younger adults. While the basics of managing weight still apply to senior adults, they tend to gain weight for different reasons and in different ways. And, because many chronic illnesses develop in old age, it can be especially important to avoid being overweight—and especially obese—as we approach the senior years.
Treating and preventing obesity in children routinely gains press attention. But some of the studies also show a significant number of senior adults are overweight, including many who are obese. According to a study conducted by the Journal of American Medicine in 2010, about 70 percent of adults over the age of 60 are overweight or obese. This condition puts them at high risk for developing diabetes and many other diseases. At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we can help you with a meal plan and even help keep healthy foods available to help battle this growing concern of senior nutrition.

What causes senior adults to get overweight or obese?
  • As muscle mass decreases over time, fat mass increases. Studies show that high percentage of fat mass in older adults increases the risks of disability, mobility limitations and decreased physical function.
  • Many seniors simply continue to eat the same amount of food as they did when they were younger even though they’re less active. That makes it easy for older adults to gain weight without changing anything else.
  • Hormonal changes that occur as we age contribute to weight management. For example, we develop a resistance to leptin, a protein hormone that regulates energy intake and expenditure. It’s also believed that aging plays a role in reduced responsiveness to thyroid hormone. These hormonal changes in senior adults can contribute to an increase in fat mass. 
  • A change in metabolism in older adults contributes to quicker weight gain and slower weight loss. As we age, our digestive systems work less efficiently, which means less energy from food is burned off as calories while more is stored as fat.
  • According to a journal article by Ann Mabe Newman, DSN, APRN, CNE published by the American Nursing Association, there are genetic factors that play a role in senior adult obesity. It’s believed certain genotypes produce a different sensitivity to changes in body fat after over-eating. 
  • According to the same journal article, our environment contributes to the chances of putting on weight as we age. Some seniors have less access to exercise and fitness centers, especially those who can offer specialized weight and physical activity programs. Seniors need safe places to walk and bike, and they aren’t always readily available.
  • One of the biggest lifestyle factors that lead to obesity in seniors is our society’s growing habit of eating out. Studies show that when we eat out, we consume both more food and more food higher in fat that when we cook our meals at home. 

Why is it more dangerous for seniors to be overweight or obese?
According to the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, while weight-related chronic diseases lead to high rates of mortality in people of all ages, the risk of dying from weight-related disease increases as people age. Additionally, it’s proven that older adults who struggle with obesity also have higher rates of depression, especially those aged 60-74.
The lungs of obese patients decrease in size, making it easier to develop respiratory problems. Because, as we grow older, we naturally lose about 20 percent of our skin’s dermal thickness, older adults who are overweight and obese can develop pressure sores much more easily.
Being overweight or obese as a senior adult can cause and/or exacerbate serious conditions such as type-two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. 
For all these reasons, some studies show over-weight and obese senior adults are more likely to need nursing home care.
What should seniors do to avoid obesity?
The facts about seniors with obesity are scary. But, unlike many signs of getting older like wrinkles and greying hair, avoiding obesity is controllable. Even though genetics play a role in our weight and our ability to lose it, there are a variety of things older adults can do to maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you or your loved one is struggling with weight as they get older, you should focus on not only modifications to eating and exercise, but also developing community support with others committed to maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Routine physical activity, even in the very old or frail elderly is shown to help avoid obesity and its related chronic illnesses. Older adults who struggle with weight should focus on physical activity designed to preserve muscle and bone mass. Both the American Society for Nutrition and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity recommend routine physical activity that includes stretching, aerobics and strengthening exercises.
  • Talk with your doctor about the effects of your prescription drugs on weight management, and get advice on the best way to address it.
  • Believe it or not, getting enough sleep helps you burn more calories. Because of certain hormone changes that occur when you don’t get enough sleep, you crave more food but feel less full. A lack of sleep also contributes to sleep-deprivation, and that leads to craving high-energy foods, which are often sweet or salty.
  • Protein leads to healthy muscle development, but if certain sources of protein, such as meat, are harder to eat, focus on other, softer sources of protein like yogurt or eggs.
  • Consult a dietician or your doctor before losing weight. For a number of reasons, diets that are recommended for younger adults can be dangerous and counter-productive in older adults. Don’t rely on weight-management tips you used when you were younger unless your doctor says it’s OK.
  • If long exercise sessions are too much, adjust your physical fitness activity to short intervals throughout the day. For example, you can gain as much physical benefit from three 10-minute exercise sessions than one for a total of 30 minutes.
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.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data Brief Number 106
, published September 2012
“How much physical activity do older adults need?” published by the Centers for Disease Control and Management,, September 2013.
“Older Adults and Obesity—is Dieting the Answer?” by Lindsey Getz for Today’s Dietician, Volume 15, No. 8, page 44.
“Weight Loss After 40: Why it’s So Hard—and What Works,” by Melanie Haiken, Senior Editor,
“Obesity in Older Adults,” by Ann Mabe Newman, DSN, APRN, CNF for The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
, Volume 14, No. 1, Manuscript 3.
“How to Prevent Obesity,” by the editors of on behalf of 

Senior Care and Elder Care in Durham and 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.
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,