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Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about geriatrics doctors? My father, who’s 82, takes eight different prescription drugs for different health issues but hasn’t been feeling himself lately. I’m wondering if he would benefit by seeing a geriatrician in place of his regular primary care physician.
If your dad is dealing with a variety of health problems and is taking multiple medications, a visit to a geriatrician may be just the antidote to help get him back on track. Here’s a rundown of the different types of health conditions geriatricians treat and some tips to help you locate one in his area.
For starters, it’s important to know that geriatricians are family practice or internal medicine physicians that have had additional specialized training to manage the unique and, oftentimes multiple health concerns of older adults. Just as a pediatrician specializes in caring for children, a geriatrician is trained to provide care for seniors, usually over age 75.
While most doctors, and even general practitioners, are trained to focus on a person’s particular illness or disease, geriatricians are trained to look at all aspects that can affect elderly patients – not just the physical symptoms. They also often work with a team of other health care professionals like geriatric-trained nurses, rehabilitation therapists, nutritionists, social workers and psychiatrists to provide care. And, they will coordinate treatments among a patient’s specialists.
Patients who can benefit from seeing a geriatrician are elderly seniors with multiple health and age-related problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, confusion and memory problems, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, arthritis, chronic pain, mobility issues, incontinence, vision and hearing impairment, and trouble with balance and falls.
Geriatricians are also particularly adept at tackling medication problems. Because many seniors, like your dad, take multiple medications at the same time for various health conditions, and because aging bodies often absorb and metabolize drugs differently than younger adults, unique side effects and drug interactions are not uncommon. A geriatrician will evaluate and monitor your dad’s medications to be sure they are not affecting him in a harmful way.
Geriatricians can also help their patients and families determine their long-term care needs, like how long they can remain in their own homes safely without assistance, and what type of services may be necessary when they do need some extra help.
But not all seniors need to see a geriatrician. Seniors who have fewer health problems are just fine seeing their primary care physician.
Find a Geriatrician
Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of geriatricians in the U.S., so depending on where you live, finding one may be challenging.
To locate one in your area, use Medicare’s online physician search tool. Just go to Medicare.gov/physiciancompare and type in your ZIP code, or city and state in the Enter your location box, and then type in geriatric medicine in the Search box. Or, you can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. The American Geriatrics Society also has a geriatrician-finder tool on their website at HealthinAging.org.
Keep in mind, though, that locating a geriatrician doesn’t guarantee your dad will be accepted as a patient. Many doctors already have a full patient roster and don’t accept any new patients. You’ll need to call the individual doctor’s office to find out.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
The City of Centennial recently celebrated and honored local centenarians prior to National Centenarians Day, which falls on September 22. The event was held at the Someren Glen Life Plan Community in Centennial.
The three ladies honored by Mayor Piko live at Someren Glen and are girlfriends.
Let’s face it. All of us have a short shelf life. As we get older, our social lives diminish. Some of us lose our spouses or long-time friends to death. Research suggests that when this happens, many do not invest the time in getting to know others to keep up with the robust social connections they once had to keep themselves happy and healthy. Many studies show the correlation of social connections to health. One recent study linked low socialization to the risk of developing dementia. Dementia is a global health challenge and social connections appear to lower the risk of suffering from this debilitating disease.
People who are socially engaged exercise their cognitive skills such as memory and language. Spending time with others is good for mental well-being, correlates with being physically active and a high level of life satisfaction and happiness.
Those that move into retirement homes might be surrounded by others, but the quality and nature of their relationships are superficial. Recently, the Center for Relationship Education team was retained to host a pilot 4-week workshop in a retirement community. The residents who attended were excited to learn new skills. One of the articulated expectations of the group was to learn how to go deeper in relationships. One resident said he wanted to learn, “What do you say after, ‘How are you?’
The workshop presenters were effective in getting the reluctant residents to participate in icebreakers, dancing, music and conversation starters. There was laughter, engagement, skills acquisition and connection. We could tell that this group of seniors was captivated by the activities, the discussions, and the lighthearted atmosphere that was created. The following workshops from one week to the next were more populated by the residents than the week before. Word of mouth about the fun was increasing the class attendance from week to week. There was a buzz in the retirement facility. The Center for Relationship Education team was delighted to serve seniors in the development of new social supports and connections.
Many of the goals around the work of the Center for Relationship Education is to increase health and well-being through thriving and satisfying relationship development. Additionally, the professional team desires to decrease loneliness and isolation among all age groups. Adolescents are also a concern as Colorado is number nine in the nation for the highest number of teen suicides. Between 2015 and 2017 there were 533 suicides in Colorado by individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 years of age. One of the reasons researchers cite as a contributing factor is lack of social supports and social isolation. Life is hard. We need each other. We need to belong, to be affirmed, to be comforted, to be heard, valued, known and respected. We need our lives to have meaning to ourselves and to others. That is why all of us need a “Life Buddy”. The Center for Relationship Education is committed to making that happen. email@example.com or www.myrelationshipcenter.org
What is the secret of attracting what we want into our lives? The “Law of Attraction” outlines that what we attract into our lives is what we choose to focus on. Whatever we give our energy and attention to will come back to us. For instance, whatever good and positive things we focus on will automatically attract better and positive things in our lives. If we focus on scarcity and negativity, then scarcity and negativity will be attracted into our lives. If we are feeling excited passionate, happy, thankful, joyful, energic and excited, we are sending out positive energy. Conversely, if we are feeling anxious, worried, stressed out, resentful or angry, we are sending out negative energy. Whatever energy we are sending out returns to us.
Feeling good about ourselves makes us more attractive to others. As we love, respect and care for ourselves, others do the same. When our self-esteem is high, we have more confidence. When we say what we need and want, we are teaching people how to treat us. Relationships become easier, more spontaneous and fulfilling. When we have internal grit and value ourselves, we do not give our power away to others.
There are many ways we can make ourselves attractive by:
Additionally, we need to eat well and make sleep our superpower. Lack of sleep makes us cranky, moody and more susceptible to temptation. Research suggests that sleep may help with weight loss and impulse-control. Setting boundaries and having high behavioral expectations of yourself and others is essential. We need to reject sarcasm, gossip, drama and vulgarity. Keeping short accounts with those that offend us and not being resentful, angry or bitter makes our lives simple and free from cumulative emotional debris.
If we desire to attract a partner or a friend the law of attraction outlines that we should write down what we want in a mate or a friend with clarity and in detail. We need to live in expectation and anticipation that the Universe will bring that person to us. Attracting goodness and positivity into our lives is worth a try. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
Jill Weber, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Washington, D.C. and the author of Building Self-Esteem 5 Steps: How to Feel “Good Enough,” Breaking Up and Divorce 5 Steps: How to Heal and be Comfortable Alone, Toxic Love-5 Steps, and Getting Close to Others 5 Steps. For more, follow her on Twitter@DrJillWeber and on Facebook, or check out drjillweber.com.
Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about senior home sharing programs? I’m 76-years-old and am interested in renting out a spare room in my house for extra cash and for some help around the house.
Renting out a spare room in your house is a great way to generate some extra income and even get some help with chores around the house. To find a good fit, older homeowners often turn to “home sharing programs” that will match an empty nester with someone needing affordable housing.
But be aware that home sharing isn’t for everyone. You need to carefully consider the pros and cons of renting out a spare room in your house and make a list of what you want and don’t want in a housemate/renter.
To help you figure this out visit SharingHousing.com, a website dedicated to understanding home sharing and which offers a guide and workbook ($25) to help you find and choose a good housemate.
Finding a Match
If you decide to proceed in finding a housemate/renter, your first step is to seek out a home sharing program in your area.
Home sharing programs, usually non-profits, screen both homeowners and renters. They check references, handle background checks and consider lifestyle criteria when making matches. They can also help you with the leasing agreement that the renter would sign that covers detailed issues like smoking, pets, chores, overnight guests, use of common rooms, and quiet hours, etc.
Most home sharing programs are free to use or request a small donation. Others, however, may charge the homeowner and potential renter a fee for this service. To look for a home sharing program in your area visit the National Shared Housing Resource Center website at NationalSharedHousing.org.
If you don’t find a program that serves your area, you can also search for housemates through an online home sharing service like Silvernest.com or SeniorHomeshares.com.
These sites work more like online dating sites that require homeowners and home seekers to fill out a profile. Once a match is made, you’ll be responsible for contacting and interviewing prospective renters and making the final agreement.
If you don’t have any luck with any of these home sharing sites, put a call in to your Area Agency on Aging (call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for contact information) who may be able to offer assistance or refer you to local agencies or nonprofit organizations that offer shared housing help.
You can also check with your local senior or community center, or local church you attend to see if you can post an ad on their bulletin board or in their newsletter. Or, you can advertise in your local newspaper or online at CraigsList.org. SpareRoom.com or RoomMates.com.
If you find someone on your own that you’re interested in renting to, ask the prospective renter to fill out a rental application (see RentalLeaseAgreement.org to download and print one for free) and run a tenant screening and background check, and then call their references. Tenant screening/background checks can be done for free at Naborly.com.
What can you tell me about electric bicycles? A friend of mine, who’s almost 70, recently got one and absolutely loves it. He told me he rides more now than he ever did his regular bicycle.
Electric bikes have become very popular among U.S. baby boomers over the past few years because they’re super fun to ride and easier on an aging body.
Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are conventional bicycles with a battery-powered “pedal” or “throttle” assist. When you saddle up and push the pedals or throttle, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can whiz up hills, ride into headwinds and cruise over challenging terrain without gassing yourself or taxing your knee joints.
Many older e-bike owners say that they ride more frequently and go further and longer than they ever would with a traditional bike. Here’s what you should know about e-bikes, along with some tips to help you choose one.
What to Know
E-bikes are more complicated and expensive than regular bicycles, so you need to do some research before you purchase one. For starters, you need to know that there are three different types of e-bikes to choose from:
• Class 1: “Pedal-assist” electric bikes that only provides assistance when the rider is pedaling, and only up to 20 miles per hour. These are the most common type of electric bikes.
• Class 2: “Throttle-assist” e-bikes that let you use the electric motor without pedaling, like a motorcycle or scooter, but only up to 20 miles per hour.
• Class 3: “Speed pedal-assist” e-bikes, similar to Class 1, except that the motor will assist with bike speeds of up to 28 miles per hour.
Because they’re electrically powered, states and local communities have varying regulations regarding the use of e-bikes. In many states, class one and two e-bikes are allowed to be ridden wherever a traditional bike goes, while class three are generally allowed on the street due to their higher top speed. For more information on your state’s e-bike laws, visit PeopleForBikes.org/e-bikes.
You should also know that e-bikes come in many different styles – commuter, cruiser, mountain, road, folding, etc. – just like traditional bikes to meet different riding needs. They also run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and their motors are either hub-driven mounted on the front or rear wheel, or mid-drive motors that are mounted to the frame at the bottom bracket between the cranks.
The only downsides of e-bikes are weight and cost. Because of the battery and motor, e-bikes are much heavier than traditional bicycles weighing 50-plus pounds, so it can be more challenging if you have to manually lift or maneuver your bike a lot. And e-bikes are expensive, typically range between $2,500 and $3,500.
E-bikes are made by many of the same established companies that make traditional bikes like Specialized, Electra, Schwinn, Trek, Giant, Cannondale and Felt, along with a number of upstarts like Juiced Faraday, Pedego, Elby and Hi Bike. To shop for an e-bike, find some good bike shops in your area that sell them so you can test ride a few.
If you’re interested in a cheaper option, there are also e-bike kits you can purchase at places like Walmart, Amazon.com and eBikeKit.com that can convert your regular bike into an e-bike for a few hundred dollars.
I do not know anyone who likes conflict. Conflict is inevitable and is an assault on the rhythm of a relationship. Emotionally healthy individuals assert themselves, maintain boundaries and let people know when what they have done or what they are doing is not okay. Others have an obligation to tell us when we have crossed the line. Doing this sometimes creates conflict.
How do we handle conflict? Should we be angry and direct with those who have offended us, or should we be passive and indirect trying to be nice about the infraction even though we are seething inside, which is the classic definition of passive aggressive. Passive aggressive behavior is characterized by evading problems, making excuses, blame shifting, playing the victim, sarcasm, backhanded compliments and hiding anger.
Obviously, anger should not be aggressive, nor should it be passive. If we desire to maintain and improve a relationship one needs to learn an effective strategy for conflict resolution.
First, we need to lean in and be in tune with what is really going on. Become self-aware. Rethink the infraction and try not to let anger hijack or flood your brain with emotions. It might be helpful to journal to get to the heart of why you are angry. Wait it out. Go for a walk. Meditate. Talk it out with a neutral third party. This will help you calm down. The goal is to regain composure so you can deal with this with a clear head. Try to understand the emotions that were triggered by the conflict.
This is a hard one but try to take a positive view of the other person. Instead of confronting, start with curiosity as to what is going on with them with authentic interest and empathy. A question to ask yourself is, what was the intent of the perpetrator? Is this infraction deliberate? Was this a mistake? Did they not realize what they did would hurt you or create conflict?
When you confront, do it in private, respectfully. Never try to humiliate. Instead of making harsh statements, de-escalate the conflict with sincere questions and listening skills. Make it safe for them to hear your perspective by first hearing theirs. You don’t want them in a defensive posture which escalates conflict. Use “I” messages. Tell how you feel. Let them tell you their feelings and explore how you could both create win-win scenario rather than having a winner and a loser.
If after doing all this with a high level of emotional intelligence, the other person digs in to get a point across and be right, disengage. Be done for now. Revisit the issue at another time, even making an appointment to chat. If the conflict does not get resolved, the anger festers, and the relationship suffers. In order to maintain and enhance relationships we must address conflicts and get to resolution, so the equilibrium and
rhythm of the relationship
is maintained. joneen@
Parents want their children to have clarity and learn life skills which include:
These life skills are the framework of the REAL (Relationship Education and Leadership) Essentials Curriculum the Center for Relationship Education utilizes to train educators to deliver to their students, providing skills and clarity as they move into adulthood.
What is not clear is the role the recent Comprehensive Sexuality Education Law (HB 1032) will have on the future of this kind of clarity enhancing and relationship skill building education students receive.
HB 1032 states that schools shall not engage the instructional services of an organization or individual that is the recipient of Title V dollars. Telling a school district what they must do is against the Colorado Constitution regarding local control. Guidance from the CDE opines that they are not an oversight body. There are no written legal parameters or guidance to follow which creates ambiguity and confusion.
To be clear, Title V funds are a $50 million-dollar set-aside included in the 1996 Welfare Reform and Social Responsibility Act signed by President Clinton. The Welfare Reform Act, and particularly, Title V, is intended to reduce poverty and increase health and well-being. This legislation changed “welfare as we know it” from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) a Federalized program that was instituted by President Johnson in 1964. There were three rules in AFDC to be able to receive public assistance. 1. No savings. 2. No job. 3. No man in the home. For 32 years, this one piece of legislation did more to break up families and get dads out the home than any initiative in history. President Clinton abolished AFDC and created a block grant that sent welfare dollars to the states which is called TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families)
Goals of TANF:
The goal of Title V (which is a part of the TANF legislation) is to help school-age children develop healthy relationships, delay sexual debut, avoid risky behaviors, learn about future orientation goals and family formation to reduce poverty and increase well-being.
School has started and Title V grantees are poised to serve high-need, under-resourced and vulnerable youth. We will not let the confusion and ambiguity of HB 1032 intimidate school administrators, educators, parents or students. The Center for Relationship Education provides students the skills necessary to develop healthy relationships and a successful life.
Clarity is the key! Contact: email@example.com; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
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