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Make New Friends But Keep the Old

One is silver and the other gold

The old Girl Scout song may be more true than you knew as recent research has shown that a variety of social isolation elements may “pose health risks, including living alone, having a small social network, infrequent participation in social activities, and feelings of loneliness” for adults, particularly older adults.

Luckily, there are some simple solutions that may have immediate health benefits, such as spending time with family and friends as well as making new friends. A New York Times headline event went so far as to claim, “Study Shows The More You Hang Out With Your Mom, The Longer She’ll Live – Make sure you call grandma over for dinner tonight.”

According to the NYT article, University of California, San Francisco researchers discovered that loneliness is a factor in the decline that often associated with old age. Controlling for socioeconomic status and health, the study followed 1,600 adults (with an average age of 71) and found the lonely consistently had higher mortality rates. In fact, “nearly 23 percent of lonely participants died within six years of the study, as opposed to only 14 percent of those that reported adequate companionship.”

The need to have people who know and value us never goes away and as we age, we tend to be more tolerant of our friends’ imperfections and idiosyncrasies. The rashness of a hotheaded youth often mellows as the years go by, bringing awareness of what’s worth fighting (or not) over. That patience and experience may carry over when spending quality time with their grandchildren, though the symbiotic relationship benefits everyone. The parents can take a bit of a break from the daily demands from their kids, the grandparents receive companionship, conversation and a sense of value, while the children can to learn about their family history, hear stories and share secrets while everyone feels the love. If you live close enough to visit your aging parents or relatives regularly, so much the better for everyone.

But, if you don’t live near your parents or if they are no longer able to live independently, there are still options. Encourage your elderly loved ones to reach out to older friends or make new ones. Help them form new relationships within an independent or assisted living facility if that is where they are currently residing. Despite popular beliefs, these types of living arrangements can provide more than physical assistance; they offer new ways to mingle and to connect, combating loneliness and possibly prolonging life.

If the time has come when your aging loved one is no longer able to live independently, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink. We will help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is personalized for your family.

Holiday Scams Target Elderly

You answer the phone and an unfamiliar voice with a scary message urges you to take urgent action to prevent something terrible from happening – your grandchild is in trouble, you owe back taxes or your computer has been hacked. But, you can make it all go away if you just purchase an iTunes gift card (or Amazon gift card) via online or in a store and then once the card has been activated, provide the 16-digit code on the back of iTunes cards via phone, email or text message to the caller/con artist. Often multiple gift cards may be “required” by the caller, equaling hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

For a holiday twist on the “grandparent scam,” the caller pretends to be their grandchild who is in trouble and needs help (money) to come home for the holidays. The caller will plead for secrecy, claiming to be embarrassed or not wanting to get in further trouble with his/her parents. This seasonal adaptation is in place of request for money so the caller (“grandchild”) can avoid jail, come home from a foreign trip or to get their car repaired.

These types of scams can also occur via email, text or even regular mail and as a loving grandparent and concerned citizen, you want to do the right thing. But in these cases, the right thing is to recognize these types of calls are scams and you should report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Phone scams are nothing new, nor are playing on the sympathies of older adults. Creating a sense of urgency and panic are tools of the trade for scammers. What is new is taking advantage of senior citizens’ lack of knowledge about how digital gift cards actually work. For example, it is likely that a grandparent has purchased gift cards, including iTunes and Amazon cards for their grandchildren, but are unlikely to be aware that such gift cards can only be used to purchase items from the issuing merchandiser (such as iTunes or Amazon). Like prepaid debit cards, iTunes and Amazon gift cards are a simple and practically untraceable method for con artists to get money, or for their victims to get those funds back.

According to the FTC, as soon as money has been put on a card and code has been shared, the money’s gone for good. Almost immediately, the card’s value will be drained, traded or sold on the black market. Unfortunately, the victim will not only have lost those funds, they are likely to be become a target for even more frauds.

Being able to convert these types of gift cards to the equivalent of cash as resulted in a recent uptick in popularity in scams and should be a tip-off of fraud. Apple, the parent company of iTunes, issued a warning on their website, “iTunes Gift Cards are solely for the purchase of goods and services on the iTunes Store and App Store. Should you receive a request for payment using iTunes Gift Cards outside of iTunes and the App Store please report it at ftc.gov/complaint.”

Other scammer-preferred payment demands also include reloadable cards, such as MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla; PayPal and wire transfers like Western Union and MoneyGram but according to AARP, the FTC states that, “no government agency nor any but a handful of businesses require any of these payment methods.”

To find out about other scams, particularly those targeting the elderly, as well as discover tips and resources to help spot and avoid identity theft and fraud, consider signing up for AARP Fraud Watch Network. You can also track scams and law enforcement alerts in your area on the AARP Scam-Tracking Map.

Key Takeaways

  • Do not trust any caller who asks for money but insists on secrecy, including a government agency or a non-profit organization. If you do not recognize the voice or are unsure who the caller is, ask for more information so you can verify what you have been told. No one should ever discourage you from seeking support and counsel from family members, friends or trusted advisers, especially before making any financial transaction.
  • No government agency, including the IRS, will require you to use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, nor will they threaten you with arrest for not paying.

If the time has come when your aging loved one is no longer able to live independently, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink to help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is customized for your family.

California Neurologist Develops New Protocol to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Cognitive impairment, which is most commonly diagnosed as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, affects millions of people around the world, with Alzheimer’s currently affecting approximately 5.4 million Americans and 30 million people globally. Reportedly, 75 million Americans have ApoE4, a key genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. According to UCLA Newsroom, there could be more than 160 million people with Alzheimer’s disease globally by 2050, including 13 million Americans, without effective prevention and treatment. Alzheimer’s is on the rise and recent estimates suggest that it has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Though those statistics are daunting, a California neurologist, Dr. Dale Bredesen, has been developing a new protocol to fight Alzheimer’s disease and it has been receiving international attention for its results so far. A professor at the Buck Institute and professor at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at UCLA, Dr. Bredesen believes Alzheimer’s is caused by dozens of imbalances in the body and has been working to create a protocol designed to address these imbalances.

Dr. Bredesen told Today  that his protocol only works for patients in the early stages of the disease and is not a cure. Elements of his daily protocol include:

  • A Mediterranean diet high in vegetables and good fats
  • Cardio exercise
  • Fasting for at least 12 hours after dinner
  • Brain training exercises
  • At least 8 hours of sleep
  • A personalized regimen of supplements that address each patient’s deficiencies

The results of Dr. Bredesen’s protocol were published in the June 16, 2016 issue of ScienceDaily, “pre and post testing show reversal of memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease in 10 patients: Small trial succeeds using systems approach to memory disorders.” A joint effort from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the UCLA Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, ScienceDaily says the study is “the first to objectively show that memory loss in patients can be reversed, and improvement sustained, using a complex, 36-point therapeutic personalized program that involves comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry.”

According to the study’s author, Dr. Bredesen, “all of these patients had either well-defined mild cognitive impairment (MCI), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) or had been diagnosed with AD before beginning the program. Follow up testing showed some of the patients going from abnormal to normal.”

While improvement demonstrated by the ten patients is unprecedented, Dr. Bredesen acknowledged it was very small study that needs to be replicated in larger numbers at various sites and he has reportedly partnered with the Cleveland Clinic for a larger clinical trial of his program.

For an overview of this groundbreaking research, watch the Today show report below. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving, please visit Alzheimer’s Association  or to find out more about Dr. Bredesen’s program and how you might be eligible to participate, visit MPI Cognition.

If the time has come when your aging loved one is no longer able to live independently, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink  to help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is personalized for your family.


Seniors Who Live Alone Likeliest To Rate Their Health Highly, Study Says

People over 65 who live alone were more likely to describe their health as excellent or very good than were seniors who live with others, according to a study exploring connections between older Americans’ health status and their living arrangements.

Conversely, older people living with others — whether related or unrelated to them — were significantly less likely to call their health as excellent or very good, researchers reported recently in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

That may be because when seniors encounter serious health problems and mounting physical difficulties, they often stop living by themselves and choose to live with others for support, they speculated.

But the researchers said they drew no conclusions about whether keeping a solitary household in old age leads to a longer life.

In fact, living alone wasn’t superior in every way for people over 65, according to the study. Those who share a home with a spouse or partner were less likely to report serious psychological distress than were older people without companions, a finding that meshes with prior research.

“Their physical health was better living alone rather than with a spouse or partner, but the mental health from living alone was worse,” said Judith D. Weissman, the study’s lead author. She is an epidemiologist and research manager in the Department of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

Mental health affects physical health and that’s why older adults’ psychological wellbeing deserves more attention, she said.

“From a policy standpoint, it indicates we may have to provide either emotional or mental support for seniors living alone,” Weissman said.

The study was based on data for 41,603 adults 65 and older collected in six years of federal surveys. Researchers studied people living alone, with a spouse or partner, with others related or unrelated, or living only with children.

Researchers also discovered the relationship between living arrangements and health differed for men and women.

For instance, older men living alone were less likely to report having two or more chronic health conditions — such as cancer or diabetes — than counterparts in households with spouses or partners. They were also less likely to report their health as fair or poor.

The opposite was true for women on both counts: Those on their own were more likely to report multiple health conditions than the ones with spouses or partners. Yet, they were also more likely to describe their health as excellent or very good.

“This apparent paradox may be difficult to untangle due to the varied life experiences that lead women to live alone,” researchers said.

For example, they said, older women are more likely to be widowed and after becoming widows, they tend to live alone.

KHN’s coverage of aging and long term care issues is supported in part by a grant from The SCAN Foundation. This KHN story can be republished for free (details).


Family Caregivers Increasing for Elderly

Caring for ill and aging family members is not a new concept but with the increasing number of elderly around the world, combined with an unstable economy, the demands on caregivers can be overwhelming. While some employers offer flexible work schedules and family leave time, many others demand much more than a traditional 9 -5 workweek. The requirements of a family caregiver are often more than a full time job as well.

According to The Wall Street Journal, many lawmakers and social-service providers are pushing for new ways to assist the vast unpaid workforce of people who are caring for their aging family members. These people are experiencing the strain of serving as family caregivers on a personal level as they assist more seniors to age in place but they also reduce reliance on public subsidies such as Medicaid, which is a major funder of institutional health care for older Americans.

“Families have always been the backbone of our system for caring for people,” said Kathy Greenlee, the assistant secretary for aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told The Wall Street Journal, “Really, if we didn’t have them, we couldn’t afford as a country to monetize their care and we couldn’t replace, frankly, the love they provide to family members.”

By the Numbers:

  • Approximately 40 million U.S. family caregivers provided unpaid care in 2013 for daily activities to an adult with limitations – valued at $470 billion according to AARP.
  • Maine’s population of adults 65 and over is more than 18% – compared with nearly 15% for the U.S. as a whole
  • A bipartisan bill, introduced in Congress in March, calls for a tax credit of up to $3,000 for eligible family caregivers.
  • 6 billion people are expected to be 65 or over by 2016
  • Less than $45,000 – the national average cost of full-time in home care but the majority of seniors do not require full-time or around the clock care. Many seniors require a few hours of support and assistance per week.

If you or someone you know is currently caring for a family member, some tips to keep in mind are:

Be organized. Create a file system that can be easily accessed and shared with other family members, including a daily schedule (information about daily medications, stress triggers, nap times, etc.) and key contacts (doctors, lawyers, accountants, family members and friends; along with with phone and e-mail info).

Talk to other caregivers. You’re not alone and sharing your challenging as well as helpful tips can help reduce your own stress level.

Don’t sacrifice your own life. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost in all the responsibilities of caregiving. Sometime the best support to a loved one is to take some time away and focus on your own health and well-being. While you may need to scale down many of your activities, maintaining a life outside of that caregiving role is important. Ask for help when you need it or bring in professional help, even on a limited basis, so you can make time to visit friends and pursue hobbies, activities, interests, career pursuits that will help you still be you.

For some family caregivers, the burden of caring for their loved ones without professional could grow too heavy. If the time has come when your aging loved one is no longer able to live independently, please contact the knowledgeable staff at ElderLink  to help you find elder care services or an assisted living facility within California that is customized for your family.