How To Pay For Home Care In 2019

There is new evolution happening in the healthcare industry.  Individuals have been demanding for more control over their options when it comes to their health.  Over the years providers have limited the length of stay available at hospitals and rehab centers.  The number of local health clinics has surged since 2010.  Think about it the next time your driving down a main road.  Walk-In clinics are everywhere now.  This is due to the shift of how we take care of ourselves.  A great benefit to this is the amount of “directed care” we receive.  Directed care is referred to as 1 on 1 care that has been specified to the individuals needs.

The benefits of home health care

Whether you are in need of 24 hour home care, recovery care, personal care or part time companionship, home care can help you.  And the best part is, it happens in the comfort of your own home.  A place you are familiar with and have probably lived for quite some time.  A study recently done by students at the University of Harvard showed the following outcomes for patients who have been cared for at home rather than healthcare facilities.

  • reduced number of falls and hospital readmissions
  • provides better safety from illness and infections
  • higher tailoring of needs to individual patients
  • better medication management
  • overall happier well being

cost of home health care

More and more clients and families are choosing compassionate home health care services as their best solution to help them stay at home and enjoy their best quality of life.  This is truly a blessing seniors have been able to experience.  Let’s explore your payment options.

medicare

Medicare is one of the largest payee of home health care services.  To be eligible, you must be age 65 or over, or be disabled under Social Security.  The Medicare home health benefit is designed to help with individuals recovering from an injury or illness or to help with other daily necessities.  It may cover a range of services such as nursing, personal care assistance and more.  In 2013, Connecticut started to offer the Adult Family Living Program.  This allows loved ones to age in place and have their family members be the primary caregiver.  We will cover this more in depth later.

Long term care insurance

If you have been contributing to a long-term insurance plan, it may be time to take advantage of it.  Long term care plans are usually set up much earlier in life to be able to reap the benefits.  It may be difficult to enroll in a long-term insurance policy if you’re in poor health or currently require long-term care.  Either way, check with an insurance provider to learn more about what plans are available to you or your family.

health insurance

If your loved ones have private health insurance, because they are under the age of 65 or a spouse is still employed, check your policy coverage for home health care.  Most private insurers will cover the costs of short-term care after a surgery or an injury.  High deductible plans tied to health savings accounts may offer tax advantages if you have been adding to them over the years.

private pay

Some families choose to pay for home health care expenses out-of-pocket.  If you do choose to pay out-of-pocket, discuss the benefits of this with an attorney or financial advisor.  Your ability to customize you own care plan and tailor it exactly to your needs is the most beneficial part of self pay.  Most home health care agencies are happy to work out payment terms with you.

adult family caregiver

This one has taken on a huge interest in the community since its inception.  Most senior loved ones want to stay in the comfort of their own home.  Eventually they will need to have someone care for them nearly 24/7.  This was almost impossible unless family members were able to sacrifice an income from one person to now stay at home and care for the recipient.  The state of Connecticut offers an amazing compensation program to not only ease the financial burden to families, but most importantly, please the interest of seniors wanting to stay at home.

If you are interested in this program and want to find out if you qualify or how to apply please visit this site here.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to one of our Juniper Homecare staff members at 860-523-1418.

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Five Reasons A Living Trust Is Better Than A Will

There are numerous things in your future to think about when heading into retirement.  Have I saved enough?  How much will my medical insurance cost?  Are all my affairs in order financially?  Will my children and grandchildren be alright if something happens to me?  And most of all, what I am going to do with all of my time?  That last one is the best.  In all seriousness one very important way to ensure your wants are documented is by having a will, so most of us think.  First, let’s take a look at what a will and a living trust is.

will v. living trust

A will is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution.  A living trust is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the first party, the trustor or settlor, transfers property upon the second party for the benefit of the third party, the beneficiary.  In short, they are very similar.  They main differences are; a living trust is not conducted in probate court, and a will allows you to appoint an executor or guardian to take care of your children.  So why may a living trust be a better option for you rather than a will?

The cost is much less

Probate costs can be very expensive.  Bond fees, appraisal fees, court fees among others are all billed at an hourly basis.  Depending on how lengthy your will is, which can be influenced by amount of property and number of children, only means more time inside the court rooms.

Your records are kept private

Probate is a public process. Meaning that anyone who could have a claim to your estate can can argue the court for that right, even distant relatives.  However, trusts are private, allowing you to maintain more direct control over who receives what and who knows about this once you pass.

They are harder to dispute

Considering living trusts are not conducted inside a probate court, arguing the contingencies are much harder.  Let’s say you have five children.  If you want to disperse different amounts to each, you can.  However, if one is unhappy about that they have the right to petition.  With a will it is much easier for the one making the petition.  A living trust is more set in stone.

Provides lifetime property management

A living trust allows you to actively manage it yourself.  God forbid if something happens to you and you are incapacitated, the living trust will speak for you.  A will is only valid after the time of death.

Your children are grown

One of the drawbacks with a living trust is that you cannot appoint guardianship to another individual for your children.  When your children are young, this can be deterring.  However, once they are grown up and wouldn’t need an appointed guardian this is inapplicable to you.

Everyones situation is different.  Please consult a licensed attorney to discuss which option is better for you and your family.

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Top 10 Nursing Home Problems

Nursing home residents have seen improvements in the facilities over the last twenty years, since many of them were not up to par.  But, the concept of “nursing” and “home” is still not exactly portrayed.  Many believe the atmosphere and feeling is not that of a home which is originally what these facilities were designed to be like.  According to Dr. Simon Hamphret, one of the best practices a loved one can do is to show a regular presence.  This not only keeps you up to date on current situations, but also helps the staff build better connections.  Below is a list compiled of the ten largest issues residents and their families face.

1.  Letting the nurses dictate the care

While the ones who specialize in the this field do have the most medical knowledge, family members should have a large say in the care that is being provided.  This includes being active during the care taking plan.  You, as the family member, know the resident better than the staff.  Which means, there will be times when you know what is best and what your loved one would want in that situation.  We see this far too often.  The families leave the entire care decisions up to the administrators.

2.  Medicaid Recipients receive less care

Unfortunately, studies have proven that in many cases individuals who are self pay receive a higher level of care.  If a resident is on Medicaid that does not qualify for reduced care.  Yes, Medicaid does limit the amount of funds these nursing homes receive.  But, the administrative staff has elected to cooperate with Medicaid and therefore should not be bias based on financial situations.

3.  Resident eviction without proper notification

The law specifies there are six reasons a resident of a nursing home can be evicted.  Most of the time it is due to the need for a higher level of care.  This coincides with the first tip, maintain regular communication with staff.  If your loved one is in need of higher care, it is better to properly prepare for this rather than trying to scramble last minute.  Administrators will need to move the resident rather quickly if they feel the need for higher care is there.

4.  No dental care is provided

Dental care is extremely important to senior citizens.  A study done in 2012 found that 46% of nursing homes provide little to no dental care other than the daily routines.  Make sure you are discussing this with your provider prior to selecting the proper home.

5.  failue to provide necessary services

Every facilities is required to keep a detailed log on activities throughout the day.  This includes sleeping, eating, bathing, and every bathroom visit.  If special care is required, such as physical therapy, it will be written in the residents personal log.  Actively viewing the log will also act as a reminder for the staff to not make any short cuts when it comes to care.

6.  Visitation hours are strict

While facilities have visitation hours to help with the routines of residents and their staff, you should be making “unexpected” visits at various times.  Talk with your administrative staff about those visits outside of visiting times.  The law recognizes the right to access by visitors at any time.

7.  Commitment to arbitration

This one was presented to me by my good friend who is a lawyer.  During admission many places will want you to sign a commitment to arbitration shall any issue arise.  But why would you sign into arbitration before anything as even happened?  After twenty-six years experience he has stated, “arbitration is normally never there to benefit the residents.”  Now, every case is different and there are times it is there to help the residents, but do not agree to this during admission.

8.  improper prescription scheduling

Most of the prescriptions that are taken by seniors will label morning, mid-day or evening.  They also express the necessity of taking the meds at the same time each and everyday.  While 8am and 9am are still morning, that does not justify for the same time.  Also, staff may be eligible to provide mood relaxing medications if the resident becomes difficult for any reason.  Keep a close watch on anytime this is given!

9.  Excessive charges

Even though you may not be paying for the bill directly out of pocket, due to Medicaid and Insurance, you need to pay attention to what is being billed.  If there are charges being billed to your insurance company this can cause issues later in the year when premiums are maxed out.

10.  the love is not the same

While we try to provide for our loved ones the best we can when choosing a home, it will never be the same as the home the lived in for many years.  As nursing homes continue to fill due to the aging baby boomers, more and more will have the opportunity to age in place.  This could be the best decision ever made for your loved one!

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Alzheimer’s Facts You Might Not Know About

9 Important alzheimer facts you should know

1.  What is alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.

2.  Alzheimer’s is different than dementia

According to an article from Healthline, Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease.  Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects the mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. While dementia is an umbrella term that Alzheimer’s disease can fall under.  It occurs due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease.

3.  How dementia and alzheimer’s can get diagnosed

The first function that people associate with this, is forgetfulness.  And while this may be the first sign a loved one will notice, there are a few other things to look out for.  To receive a diagnosis of dementia, you need to have your cognition change in two of the following six ways:

  • Complex Attention
  • Cognitive Functioning
  • Memory
  • Verbal and Non-verbal Language
  • Social Communication
  • Perception of Surroundings

4.  alzheimer’s can occur at any age

Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging.  The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.  However, alzheimer’s is not just a disease of that occurs during old age.  There are approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 that have Alzheimer’s disease, which is also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s.

5.  exercise is known to delay the onset of dementia

A study conducted in Sweden included middle age women who were very active.  This included women still working jobs that required lots of physical movement and women who exercised at least five times per week.  Just 5% of the highly fit women in the study were diagnosed with dementia, compared with 25% for the average and 32% for the low-fitness groups.  Even for the 5% of highly fit women who received a diagnosis, they were diagnosed on average 9.5 years later.  That is incredible!

6.  The role of plaques and tangles

Not sure if you have ever heard of these terms before but they refer the structures inside the brain that are responsible for damaging the nerve cells.  Plaques are deposits of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid that build up in the spaces between nerve cells.  Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau that build up inside cells.  Studies have shown that we develop some plaques and tangles as we age.  However, the amount that is developed during Alzheimer’s is far greater.

7.  the seven stages of alzheimer’s

There are currently seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease beginning with no apparent notice to a very severe decline.  Most doctors will refer to these stages in three parts.  Early, moderate and end are the most common.  By understanding the stages in a deeper meaning may help you with noticing symptoms in a loved one.  Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York has broken these stages down further to help with the understanding of the progression of the disease.

8.  alzheimer’s and genetics

While some scientists say there is no direct correlation between the disease being genetic, other experts are convinced the two correlate.  One gene in particular is of interest to researchers. Apolipoprotein E is a gene that has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s in adults.  Blood tests can determine if you have this gene, which could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.  Keep in mind that even if someone has this gene, they may not get Alzheimer’s.  The opposite is also true.  Somebody could still develop Alzheimer’s even if they don’t have the gene. There’s no way to tell for sure.

9.  Caregivers should seek help if needed

If a loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, get help soon!  You do not have to do this alone. You will also be able to better support your loved one if you are able to take good care of yourself as well.  Many studies have shown the adverse effects of taking it all on your own.  Juniper provides support and guidance to both caregivers and recipients.  For more, please visit us juniperhomecare.com

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When Is The Best Time To Collect Social Security?

Lately in the news and personally I have heard the questions, “When is the best time to collect Social Security?”  “How can I maximize the amount I can receive?”  “Will I get penalized if I collect or withdraw on it too early?”  Now, while there may not be an exact answer for everyone, since everyones situation is different, there sure are procedures you can follow that will help guide you to receiving the highest return that will also fit your needs.  Let’s take a look on how Social Security works first.

The basics of social security

Most people are eligible to start collecting at the age of 62.  But if you wait until your Full Retirement Age, which according to the Social Security Administration is 66, you will receive a much larger benefit.  Keep in mind that while 66 is your Full Retirement Age, you are able to wait until age 70 to collect.  I know that may sound confusing but in general your benefits continue to increase until age 70.  Then, the SSA requires you to start collecting.  In other words, collecting early provides a smaller payment over a longer period of time.  Collecting later will provide a larger payment over a shorter period of time.  Understanding the numbers behind collecting at certain ages is where you can really benefit from.

how the numbers work

A study conducted by Stanford University has identified a few conditions that conclude delaying to collect is the best when:

  • Interest Rates Are Low
  • Married Couples v Single Persons
  • Single Women v Single Men
  • Multiple Earning Couples

Currently interest rates are still at all time lows.  The reason why this makes it more beneficial to delay is because you will not be able to gain much, if any, from saving your collection yourself.  If interest rates were high it would be assumed that you could invest your collections and that interest would outnumber the benefits of waiting.  Married couples have the ability to collect ones earnings early to live off of and delay the others.  This helps if income is needed currently to help with living expenses.  Lastly, the benefit of being a single woman and delaying to collect is strictly based of the statistics that women have the tendency to outlive men.

What is your life expectancy?

According to the Social Security Administration, the typical 65-year-old today will live to age 83, one in four will live to age 90, and one in ten will live to 95.  While there are many other factors that influence this statistic to go in either direction, this is a baseline for you to determine where you may stand.  Below is a chart with an analysis that breaks down exactly where you stand with benefits as it relates to your age.  Meaning, if you delay to collect how long it takes for your benefits to start to increase your overall compensation.

social security benefits list

As you can see by the chart, delaying to collect can result in a large benefit increase.  While I am not a financial advisor nor a government official who works for the Social Security Administration, I do suggest that everyone take time to thoroughly discuss and go over your options with a licensed financial advisor.  This article is based off of statistics and research.

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Seniors : How To Fight Allergies This Season

A survival guide to help combat allergies and aging

This spring so far has been definitely different than previous years.  The amount of rain that has fallen nationwide has increased by 37% from 2018.  You may think the rain will help pollen from becoming airborne and affecting us.  However, the plants and trees actually stop releasing pollen during downpours only to ramp up the release once the rain has stopped.  This has caused allergies to be much worse than seasons before.  An unfortunately, we know that allergies will affect babies and seniors much worse than adults.  Her are a few tips to help withstand the effects of allergies.

Last year i did not have allergies

First off, lets talk about the scenario of this being your first year with allergies.  As we age our bodies change.  What affected us previously may not affect us anymore and vice versa.  But, there are a few things that may cause allergies to flair up.

Medications – Certain prescriptions can exacerbate allergy symptoms in the elderly. For example, beta-blockers can worsen nasal stuffiness.

Diet – Some of our loved ones may be on a strict diet to help with cholesterol or high blood pressure.  The foods that we eat may trigger allergies to flair up or worsen.  Here is an article written by Everyday Health on the affects of food and allergies.

How to keep allergies at bay

While we all would love to make our allergies go away, that is not always possible.  But, there are instances that we can help the runny nose and itchy eyes.  First, let’s discuss the use of medication with seniors.  Allergy medications are what is known as anti-histamines.  A number of antihistamines that are often used to minimize the effects of allergies are not recommended for many seniors because they can increase blood pressure. Not only that, antihistamines can interact with other medications that you may be on, causing severe side effects such as dizziness, confusion, or drowsiness.  Please consult with your doctor or physician before use of any medication.  Here are some other ways that will help you with your allergies.

  • If you need fresh air, open your windows slightly when it is raining.  I know this may sound odd, but that is when pollen is at it’s lowest count.
  • Avoid going places outdoors when the grass in the area has been cut recently.  Mowing the lawn stirs up pollen that can remain airborne for 24 hours.
  • I know some of us still use the clothes line to dry clothes.  Keep your laundry indoors for the next few weeks, until the pollen subsides.
  • Avoid people who have colds.  This is a big one.  You may not feel sick but your body can be fighting off a cold.  When this happens your immune system is less resistant towards allergies and they will be worse during this time.
  • Change ALL air filters in the house.  Many of us think to change your air conditioning filter.  However, at night time your furnace is probably still running.  It did get down to 48 degrees last night.  Change your furnace air filter as well.

Any questions with senior living or how to help with the changing seasons feel free to reach out at anytime to info@juniperhomecare.com

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The Increasing Cost of Assisted Living

I was reading an article the other day written in a Philadelphia newspaper.  It’s headline was, “Why Middle Age People Cannot Afford Assisted Living.”  The writer was predicting what the future of assisted living will look like in the years to come.  From the amount of people, also known as baby boomers, who will be in need of such care to the increase in cost due to the demand for these services.  She explained how hard it is to be able to predict such expense as a family.  She also went into further details on what is covered under medicare and what needs to happen before medicare will be able to cover the costs.  In this article I will explain further to help guide you through some of the reasons for increasing costs and provide certain alternatives that may be beneficial to your family.

supply v. demand

Unfortunately, just like other industries, running an assisted living facility is a business.  They are designed to be profitable while being able to provide the highest care possible.  With that, when there is an added amount of people who need care, an imbalance forms.  These companies do not have enough employees nor resources to be able to take on the influx of applicants who need care.  This requires managers to fill positions, initiate additional training to current staff, and potentially add-on to the facility to allow for more space.

Your standard cost of living

Many of us have felt the affects of rising prices over the last decade.  Whether it be the taxes you pay on your home and car or the increase of the grocery bill, we have all paid more for these same items than we did ten years ago.  Meanwhile, the average American only saved $1,236 in 2017 according to Marketwatch.  While many of us have to save for retirement, save for our children’s college tuition, and spend more on healthcare this leaves little to no money to spend on assisted living for a love one.  Combine this with 32% of retirees living off of social security alone, and there really is not enough to cover the cost.  However, the United States has provided options to help combat the issues we have seen lately with this.

Caring for a loved one at home

In 2013 the Department of Social Services started a program called the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders.  This program was designed for three main reasons:

  • to give our loved ones the opportunity to age in place and be able to stay in the comfort of their own home
  • to help assisted living facilities with the influx of additional individuals that will be needing care over the next 20 years.  This is based on demographics.  We are reaching a time where the elderly (65+) are outnumbering the “children” (under 21) for the first time ever.
  • to provide a different option to those who may not be able to afford assisted living

Before, if your loved one was in need of assistance, staying at home would be very difficult.  A family member would have to leave their job and support both parties.  This almost made it impossible for families to do.  Additionally, there was no way for caregivers to get any type of training unless they had previously been in the medical field or they paid out of pocket to take courses.  Now, fortunately the state has funded a new program to help.

Juniper Homecare has joined partners with the State of CT to provide these services for caregivers and their loved ones to make staying at home possible.  Here are just a few of the amenities we offer.

• 30+ Registered nurses statewide

• Multilingual Nurses and Office staff offering 15+ languages

•  Proprietary technology enabling access to real-time client status for the care team

• Home Health Technology to assist with fall detection

• Vitals and medication management

• Communication between caregiver, nurse, administrative staff and care-managers

• 24/7 office support

• Caregiver respite, support and access to caregiver workshops/education.

Although the cost of assisted living has risen, please know there are options out there.  Remember, the best caregivers are family!

For more questions please contact afl@juniperhomecare.com or call (860)523-1418

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communication is connection

Caring For A Loved One Who Can No Longer Speak

Communicating without Speaking

You may wonder how difficult it may be to understand an individual whom you cannot speak with.  Most of the time, the one who cannot speak does not know how to relay their wants and needs to you either.  They can become frustrated because communicating was once much easier.  Many of us are caring for aging loved ones who can no longer communicate with us.  Seniors may lose their ability to talk, known as aphasia, which can occur from stroke, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease or a brain injury.  However, even minor difficulties in speech can be a challenge for both the caregiver and caretaker.

When losing the ability to speak, our loved ones begin to feel isolated and misunderstood, which many times can lead to anger, depression and mood swings.  It is critical for caregivers and family members to be able to communicate with seniors in any way possible.  Not just for the collective understanding, but mainly for the feeling of comfort.  This process is incredibly scary for seniors.  Always keep that in mind!

Using the sense of touch

It has been far known that the sense of touch is one of the last to be impaired by aging.  The feeling of comfort and safety is very consoling to the ones who can no longer speak like they used to.  Beginning to rely on touch to communicate will require extra attention to their non-verbal cues.  Pay attention to their facial expressions and their hand gestures.  These two actions will express a lot on how your loved one is feeling and if anything may be bothering them.

One common problem to avoid is expressing any negative emotions or gestures towards your loved one.  We completely understand that caregiving is a very difficult and demanding task for anyone to take on.  If you have children, this may take you back to when they were being a toddler.  Even though getting upset is a natural reaction to the situation, it only makes things worse.  Try to remain calm.  The more time the both of you spend together, the more you will be able to understand one another.

hearing without speaking

Even though a one-sided conversation may seem like you are talking at the person instead of with the person, this is still beneficial for your loved ones.  Continue to fill them in on what is going on in their life and the families.  Go over what your day is going to look like and any appointments that are scheduled.  Continue to ask them questions.  Look for cues or indications into what they may be feeling inside.  According to a study done by the National Alzheimers Resource Center, many seniors can continue to hear and comprehend their native language far after they become unable to speak.  You may be amazed on just how much they can still understand.

Remember, always be patient.

For more on caregiving…

7 healthy habits and tips for caregivers

You can get paid being a caregiver to your family!

How to stay positive while caregiving

Helping Our Loved Ones Cope With Loneliness

It is completely understandable as to why you may feel lonely as you get older.  Family and friends may have moved to a different city or state.  Coworkers no longer keep in touch due to the same circumstances.  And, as we unfortunately have to deal with, some of the individuals close to us may have passed away.

However, that does not mean you have to be lonely in your golden years.  There are many things you can do in your area to remain social and avoid being isolated.  Life as a senior should be vibrant, fun and entertaining almost as if you were a child again.  After all, you did work really long and hard to get to this point.  Here are a few ideas to help that our closest group of seniors have shared with us.

go on an adventure to new places

With the warm weather approaching, businesses and city parks are preparing their locations for first time visitors.  Museums are extending their hours to accommodate more people.  Shopping centers and downtown areas are thriving with new construction every day.  You might want to visit your favorite store to see the new items on the shelves.

Whatever the case is, you should look around in your area for new town events.  As a caregiver, check the local newspapers for what is happening on the town greens.  Or you may want to visit the cities website to mark your calendar with future plans.  Just getting out and being around others, even if it is the smallest social experience, it can help to avoid loneliness.

Pets help combat loneliness

Do you have a dog or a cat?  Or maybe the neighbor has a dog running around the fenced in yard.  If not, the local shelter is always looking for volunteers to help with walking and caring for their animals.  Pets are a great way to feel a sense of relief, reward and satisfaction.  Remember, our loved ones once cared for young children.  The feeling of caring for an animal helps lower anxiety and contribute to an overall boost in well being.  If the idea seems reasonable and feasible, consider adopting a pet.  this may not be the best option for everyone, but animals can provide the best form of companionship to help with the feeling of loneliness.

listen and let them teach you

As a caregiver, one of the best ways to help our loved ones to open up is to ask them questions.  You see, they have spent many years learning from others and making mistakes, they love to pass on their wisdom to the next generation.  This is a great way to connect with each other on a much deeper level.

As generations have changed and technology has advanced, some of the traditional ways people did things are no longer taught today.  But many of them had to learn efficient and effective ways of completing daily tasks.  Ask them about how they used to do things at your age.  You would be surprised on how much you learn!

Always watch for depression, especially in the long winter months.  This can be common among seniors.  If you see circumstances getting worse please consult with your local physician.

 

 

Seniors at the farmers market

Spring Is Here! 6 Activites For Seniors

It’s Time to get outside!

Finally!

After what seemed like forever but was only 5 months, the cold is on it’s way out.  The warm air and bright sun over the weekend will slowly push the trees and plant life out of hibernation.  This is the time of year where we can all spend more time outside with family and loved ones.  Here are a few local activities to enjoy this spring, as well as a few health tips.

 1.  First and Foremost, Get Outdoors!

The number one goal is to be outside.  Wether you are able to be active or are able to sit on a park bench, studies from Harvard Medical have shown being outdoors has a direct correlation with your overall mood.  The sunlight tends to elevate peoples mood levels and helps relive stress.  Also, an increase amount of Vitamin D will help your body fight certain conditions from osteoporosis and cancer, to depression and heart attacks.  As long as we don’t overdo the amount of sun we take in, it is very beneficial to your overall health.

 2.  visit your local farmers market

Visiting a local farmer’s market should be high on your list this spring.  Not only will this help you get outdoors but also give you the opportunity to eat better.  You will find new and healthy fruits and vegetables to try.  Many markets also offer new recipe lists as well as classes ranging from healthy cooking to making your own soaps.  Click here for a list of farmers markets in Connecticut.

 3.  Take swimming classes at the local ymca

Now, while this may not be an outdoor activity, most people find it more enjoyable to swim when it is warm outside.  Naturally our bodies try to refrain from getting wet when the temperature is low.  Local YMCA’s have a list of classes for individuals of all mobility ranges.  Swimming is great for your heart health as well as getting those muscles pumping!

 4.  eat outside on the patio

Many of us New Englanders cannot wait to fire up the grill for the first time.  The smell of the charcoal burning has summertime written all over it.  Many restaurants are excited to open up their patio as soon as the weather starts to become enjoyable.  Ask around for new and exciting places to enjoy a meal outdoors.  For a list of the top 25 restaurants with outdoor dining click here.

 5.  take a stroll in the park

Connecticut state employees are busy this time of year doing spring cleanup in all of the city and state parks.  Many have statues explaining the history behind the land and how the park was created.  Some will host food trucks, arts and craft shows, and live music in the evenings.

While we are all excited for the warm weather to fully blossom, let’s not forget to protect ourselves from the sun.

  • Make sure to put on a high SPF sunscreen at all times, even when it is cloudy.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Watch out for allergies.  The pollen is strong this time of year.
  • Wear sunglasses!

And as always.. Have fun!