Tag Archives: eldercare

Feel Like The Last Friend Standing? Here’s How To Cultivate New Buds As You Age.

Donn Trenner, 91, estimates that two-thirds of his friends are dead.

“That’s a hard one for me,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of people.”

As baby boomers age, more and more folks will reach their 80s, 90s — and beyond. They will not only lose friends but face the daunting task of making new friends at an advanced age.

Friendship in old age plays a critical role in health and well-being, according to recent findings from the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Sightlines Project. Socially isolated individuals face health risks comparable to those of smokers, and their mortality risk is twice that of obese individuals, the study notes.

Baby boomers are more disengaged with their neighbors and even their loved ones than any other generation, said Dr. Laura Carstensen, who is director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and herself a boomer, in her 60s. “If we’re disengaged, it’s going to be harder to make new friends,” she said.

Trenner knows how that feels. In 2017, right before New Year’s, he tried to reach his longtime friend Rose Marie, former actress and co-star on the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Trenner traveled with Rose Marie as a pianist and arranger doing shows at senior centers along the Florida coast more than four decades ago.

“When we were performing, you could hear all the hearing aids screaming in the audience,” he joked.

The news that she’d died shook him to the core.

Although she was a friend who, he said, cannot be replaced, neither her passing nor the deaths of dozens of his other friends and associates will stop Trenner from making new friends.

That’s one reason he still plays, on Monday nights, with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, Conn.

For the past 19 years, he’s been the orchestra’s pianist and musical conductor. Often, at least one or two members of the 17-piece orchestra can’t make it to the gig but must arrange for someone to stand in for them. As a result, Trenner said, he not only has regular contact with longtime friends but keeps meeting and making friends with new musicians — most of whom are under 50.

Twice divorced, he also remains good friends with both of his former wives. And not too long ago, Trenner flew to San Diego to visit his best friend, also a musician, who was celebrating his 90th birthday. They’ve known each other since they met at age 18 in the United States Army Air Corps. They still speak almost daily.

“Friendship is not be taken for granted,” said Trenner. “You have to invest in friendship.”

Even in your 90s, the notion of being a sole survivor can seem surprising.

Perhaps that’s why 91-year-old Lucille Simmons of Lakeland, Fla., halts, midsentence, as she traces the multiple losses of friends and family members. She has not only lost her two closest friends, but a granddaughter, a daughter and her husband of 68 years. Although her husband came from a large family of 13 children, his siblings have mostly all vanished.

“There’s only one living sibling — and I’m having dinner with him tonight,” said Simmons.

Five years ago, Simmons left her native Hamilton, Ohio, to move in with her son and his wife, in a gated, 55-and-over community midway between Tampa and Orlando. She had to learn how to make friends all over again. Raised as an only child, she said, she was up to the task.

Simmons takes classes and plays games at her community. She also putters around her community on a golf cart (which she won in a raffle) inviting folks to ride along with her.

For his part, Trenner doesn’t need a golf cart.

His personal formula for making friends is music, laughter and staying active. He makes friends whether he’s performing or attending music events or teaching.

Simmons has her own formula. It’s a roughly 50-50 split of spending quality time with relatives (whom she regards as friends) and non-family friends. The odds are with her. This, after all, is a woman who spent 30 years as the official registrar of vital statistics for Hamilton. In that job, she was responsible for recording every birth — and every death — in the city.

Experts say they’re both doing the right thing by not only remaining open to new friendships but constantly creating new ways to seek them out — even at an advanced age.

Genuine friendships at any age typically require repeated contact, said Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of “The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing and Keeping Up with Your Friends.” She advises older folks to join group exercise classes or knitting or book clubs.

She also suggests that seniors get involved in “altruistic behavior” like volunteering in a soup kitchen or an animal shelter or tutoring English as a second language.

“Friendships don’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “You don’t meet someone at Starbucks and suddenly become best friends.”

Perhaps few understand the need for friendship in older years better than Carstensen, who, besides directing the Stanford Center on Longevity, is author of “A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity.”

Carstensen said that going back to school can be one of the most successful ways for an older person to make a new friend.

Bonior recommends that seniors embrace social media. These social media connections can help older people strike up new friendships with nieces, nephews and even grandchildren, said Alan Wolfelt, an author, educator and founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition.

“It’s important to create support systems that don’t isolate you with your own generation.”

Many older folks count their children as their best friends — and Carstensen said this can be a big positive on several levels.

“I don’t think it matters who your friends are,” she said. “It’s the quality of the relationship that matters most.”


Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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.


Juggling Your Job and Caring for Your Elders

Are you working a full time job while also trying to care for an aging family member? If so, you are not alone. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute, you are one of more than 43 million adults doing just that over the course of a year. Unfortunately, the challenges of the work place in combination with the demands of caring for a beloved family member often result in an individual sacrificing his or her own financial security.

In addition to a personal support system, the ability to successfully balance caregiving and full time job could greatly depend upon the flexibility of your company and your supervisor. The opportunity to telecommute, work non-traditional hours or participate in job sharing may allow employees the ability to more successfully juggle their professional and personal responsibilities. If alternate work situations are not available, a 2104 survey conducted on behalf of the Families and Work Institute found that approximately half of the people who ultimately left their jobs in order to provide elder care stated it was because their employers were not able to accommodate their dual responsibilities.

Many employees may be reticent to even raise the issue for fear that it could be perceived as affecting their work performance. Fortunately, several employers are beginning to recognize that it may be more costly to lose good employees who are caregivers than hire and train new staff members. In fact, companies with 50 or more employees must allow up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave for workers who are caring for a newborn or an ailing family member under the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Above and beyond those legal requirements, “California requires employers to offer eligible employees up to six weeks of paid leave a year, at 55 percent of their wages, to care for a seriously ill family member,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

If you are in this situation and feel overwhelmed, try talking to your personnel representative as a first step but be prepared to frame your concerns in a positive manner. For example, suggest that telecommuting a few days a week would help you meet your goals and supply a reason why that would work. If that would not work for your employer or you, ask if you can work on a part-time or contractor basis but remember to find out how reducing your hours could affect your benefits.

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.

Gifts For Grandparents

Your parents, grandparents and elderly relatives are a special part of your family. They not only you’re your history but they also are the historians of the family. Whether they are active older adults or challenged by physical or mental illnesses as senior citizens, show your love and appreciation for your beloved aging family members this season with a gift that will make their lives easier, more fun or just memorable.

Customized photo keepsakes
Given with love and affection, Shutterfly  is one of many online retailers offering personalized photo gifts appropriate for any celebration. Items such as a custom photo book filled with favorite family pictures or desktop plaques, glass prints or canvas prints will not only provide a lasting memento but may help trigger familiar memories. Gifts of jewelry and playing cards will let your parents or grandparents take images of their loved ones wherever they go and provide an ideal circumstance for the coveted humble brag. If your aging relative resides in an assisted living facility, personalized décor, such as pillows, woven blankets and fleece photo blankets may provide a familiar sense of home as well as help keep their memories alive.

If you or your kids are tech savvy, you can also create your own bound photo album by downloading the free easy-to-use software from Blurb  or choose from an array of styles created by designers to build a personalize photo calendar with Minted.

If you are long on time but short on cash or have tech-savvy teenagers in the house, do your parents or grandparents a solid and help them digitize their photo collection. Depending on how many photos are involved and how many stories your aging loved ones like to tell, plan on spending at least a few hours or possible set a day and time once a month. If you upload the photos to the cloud, it will not only keep the photos safe but they will be accessible from various devices – making it easy to share memories with multiple family members. A wonderful opportunity to recall childhood memories or hear family stories you or your kids have never heard before. An added bonus, it is basically free to do using something like Heirloom, Google Photos or an Amazon Prime account with unlimited storage.

Technology tools
Buying tech gifts for anyone can be tricky, depending on how comfortable they are in technology in the first place. But for many older adults struggling to stay connected with their grandkids or long-distance loved ones, technology can be a useful tool. Just remember a technology gift to a grandparent usually requires a time commitment beyond just buying, wrapping and giving the gift. You should be prepared to help them set up the item, teach them how to use it and be available to occasionally trouble shoot. Just because you or your kids find technology simple, don’t assume your parents or grandparents will. An unusable gift isn’t helpful. To that end, if you do not have as much time as you would like to help troubleshoot technology issues for your loved ones, consider giving them a subscription to Bask Tech Support (LINK). For a moderate monthly fee, the remote tech support will listen to the problem and walk through a solution. If necessary, they can also connect remotely to the computer to back up data and clean up any issues with viruses and malware.

Aside from iPhone’s Facetime, Skype provides a great way to stay connected with your long-distance relatives but not everyone has a tablet, phone or computer with a built in web camera. If your relatives have an older computer, consider giving them a fun, foolproof webcam. There are many choices available or buy one directly from Skype.com. Or, if you are feeling a little flush this holiday season, consider buying them a tablet, such as an iPad Mini. Even if they only check their email and the weather channel, if you teach them how to use FaceTime or Skype, it could be one of the most useful gifts they receive. Once they master the basics, they may find technology is not as intimidating as they thought. However, if a tablet is just too big and expensive a jump right now, consider starting with a Kindle Fire to ease the transition into technology. It comes equipped with a front facing camera that can be used to Skype, access to Amazon’s remote tech help feature, “Mayday” and of course, they can download audio and e-books.

Sometimes the most appreciated gift is one that makes life easier. If your family member is coping with a physical challenge or must take numerous medications, Sabi offers several practical gifts ranging from health and wellness items  to canes and accessories.

No matter what gifts you give this year, remember, your love and support are always the best gift of all. We wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

And 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.

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: How To Recognize the Early Signs of the Disease

With the holidays of November and December, many families will gather together after long months or years of separation. In addition to sharing the latest life developments, it can be a good time to assess the current physical and mental health of your aging loved ones. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

Most people are aware the Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a gradual decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. While some memory loss happens to everyone, regardless of age, memory loss that disrupts your daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms  that may be early indicators of the disease and an individual may experience one or more of these signs in various degrees. Remember, some of these signs could be temporary, as a result of injury or medication but if you believe you are exhibiting any of these signs or if you have noticed them in a loved one, please see a doctor.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

As opposed to typical age-related memory loss, where one occasionally forgets a name or where you put something but remembers it later, this is an increasingly more disruptive type of member loss. An individual may not be able to recall recently learned information or may forget important dates or events more than usual. You may also notice individuals repeatedly asking for the same information or increasingly relying on memory aids or family members to remind them of information or appointments that they used to recall on their own.

  1. Challenges in planning or solving problems

Balancing a checkbook can be a challenge for anyone, but if an individual experiences a change in their regular abilities to work with numbers or follow a plan, it may be cause for concern. Some common signs may be trouble following a familiar recipe, a new difficulty keeping track of monthly bills or increased difficulty concentrating and as a result, take longer to do things than they previously did.

  1. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

Who doesn’t need help trying to figure out how to set the DVR or download music? But if you notice your loved one seems to be having trouble with familiar tasks, such as driving to the grocery store, remembering how to play their favorite game or use the oven, it could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Confusion with time or place

It’s not uncommon to forget what day of the week it is, only to remember later but loosing track of dates, seasons or the passage of time is a different matter. Look for signs of disorientation, your loved one may forget where they are or don’t know how they arrived there.

  1. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Trouble with your vision could simply mean you need a new pair of glasses or are developing cataracts or glaucoma but if an individual is having difficulty reading, driving, judging distance and determining color or contrast, it is time to consult a doctor beyond an ophthalmologist.

  1. New problems with words in speaking or writing

Having trouble finding the right word may be a common age-related issue but someone with Alzheimer’s may not be able to follow the flow of a conversation or be able to join in. Look for signs of an individual who suddenly stops in the middle of a conversation, looses their thought thread and then has no idea how to pick up the conversation again or repeats themselves. Other signs include struggling with common words or difficulty coming up with the correct term for a familiar object.

  1. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

Anyone can misplace their keys or phone but usually simply retracing your steps is the solution. However, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may not only place things in unusual places, they forget when they placed them and also be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. Sometimes, out of fear or embarrassment, they may accuse others of stealing the missing object.

  1. Decreased or poor judgment

No one is perfect and anyone makes an occasional bad decision. But people with Alzheimer’s may experience more drastic changes in judgment or decision-making, such as falling for telemarketing scams or failing to keep up with basic daily hygiene.

  1. Withdrawal from work or social activities

Sometimes you just don’t feeling like going out or socializing, especially after a hectic day or high-pressure week. But when an individual is regularly opting out of their regular social activities or hobbies, it may be because they are having memory issues or want to avoid people who will notice some of the difficulties they are experiencing.

  1. Changes in mood and personality

Many people like schedules or performing a task a certain way and become irritable when their routine is disrupted. However, people with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personalities changes more frequently, especially when they are out of their comfort zone or a familiar environment. Such individuals may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious or upset at home, at work or in unfamiliar places when their routine is disrupted or they feel uncomfortable.

For more information about the disease, please watch the National Institute on Aging’s video

Inside the Brain: Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer’s Disease. The 4-minute captioned video shows the intricate mechanisms involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.

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.