Help for Seniors Living Alone – The Caring Generation®

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The Caring Generation® – Episode 86, May 19, 2021. On this program, caregiving expert Pamela D Wilson offers suggestions and Help for Seniors Living Alone who want to remain independent and in control of life and decision-making. Interviews with seniors paint a picture of how life changes with age and health diagnoses.

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Help for Seniors Living Alone

0:00:00.0 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation, with host Pamela D. Wilson, is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.

 

Watch More Videos About Caregiving and Aging on Pamela’s YouTube Channel

0:00:37:24 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, consultant, and guardian of The Caring Generation. The Caring Generation focuses on the conversation of caring, giving us permission to talk about aging, the challenges of caregiving, and everything in between. It’s no surprise that needing care or becoming a caregiver changes everything. The Caring Generation is here to guide you along the journey to let you know that you’re not alone.

0:1:07:31 Pamela D Wilson: You’re in exactly the right place to share stories, learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones plan for what’s ahead. Invite your family and friends to listen to the show each week. This week we are talking about help for seniors living alone. This discussion is relevant to everyone regardless of your age so that you understand how the effects of actions today will affect your life when you are older – in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond.

01:48:11 Pamela D Wilson: The idea of help for seniors living alone can be challenging to understand if you are a young and healthy caregiver watching a parent, grandparent, or another family member suffer from poor health or experience changes in daily life. During this program, I will share eight areas that become more difficult to manage with age.

02:16:03 Pamela D Wilson: Plus, actions that everyone—regardless of age—can begin today to be self-sufficient and continue living independently into old age. Three interviews with older adults, Margie, Lorraine, and John, offer insights into how the experiences of aging, unexpected accidents, and health diagnosis changed their lives.  How many of you have heard the term “aging in place?” Do you know what this means?

02:51:98 Pamela D Wilson: Aging in place is a healthcare industry term—more of what I call medical speak— that means older adults desire to live in their homes safely and independently. This happens by accessing community and family support and, most importantly, creating a care plan for care that encompasses varied aspects of life and health. In simple terms, it means that seniors want to live in their homes as long as possible and avoid care communities or nursing homes unless, of course, moving into a community is their choice.

03:35:17 Pamela D Wilson: Not a choice or decision made by their family caregivers or forced as the result of health conditions. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Topics most of us don’t want to talk about or may not know how to plan for, so we avoid them. Let’s work at being more open-minded and move out of our comfort zones to consider actions that can be helpful for seniors living alone. The main topic – spoiler alert – aging and dying is not something that any of us can avoid.

04:15:095 Pamela D Wilson: All people die due to chronic diseases and an aging body unless one is like my sister or my uncle, who died as the result of car accidents or if you die from an unexpected incident. If you want to be healthier than average in old age, if you want to do more than most people in old age and enjoy that retirement, you imagine. Here’s the secret. Aging in place and aging positively take planning and effort beginning today.

04:57:49 Pamela D Wilson: The good news is that if you’re here listening, you have time, knowledge, and the ability to gain wisdom. It’s all on your side. Knowledge, having information, and wisdom – knowing how to use information are two entirely different things. Knowledge is knowing or having information. Wisdom is possessing knowledge, gaining perspective, and making sound judgments about a subject. In this case, aging, health, and caregiving.

05:35:52 Pamela D Wilson: The more you can consider doing things that you’ve never done before—especially if you are retired and have all of the time in the world—the more progress, the easier it will be for you will make progress toward aging in place and gaining help for seniors living alone. Let’s start with number one. The area that becomes more difficult to manage, specific to aging in place and help for seniors living alone. Can you guess what it is? It is—physical injuries and physical activity. Depending on your age and truly, as early as in middle age—40’s, 50’s—it may be challenging to do all the things you used to do.

06:24:54 Pamela D Wilson: Are you beginning to feel older? Can you still do all of the things you used to do without becoming exhausted—like walking distances, bending, lifting, projects around the home like yard work, shoveling, walking up and down steps? Or maybe you have been active all your life. Suddenly something unexpected happens. To validate the importance of being active and how one minor accident like a fall and a hip fracture can change your life, I want to introduce you to Lorraine so that you can hear her story.

07:07:52 Pamela D Wilson: Tell me, you were just talking about living in independent living and coming to assisted living, tell me about that for you.

07:15:11 Lorraine: Well, I moved from Elmhurst, Illinois, to Las Vegas to retire. And I lived in a Golf Community where you had to be 55 or older. It was independent living. I had purchased a gorgeous 2,000 square foot ranch house, and I lived there for 11 years. Before I had—was forced to move from independent living to assisted living because I had broken my hip. There was no way I could handle driving a car, shopping. The thing I remember most was my first day here. Spent the night. And then I came down for breakfast. And I realized then when I took inventory of the people that were surrounding me that I was old.

08:36:31 Pamela D Wilson: How did that make you feel? Is it like, “how did I get here?” What happened?

08:42:83 Lorraine: Well, I resented the idea that all this time that I was retired. Because I retired, I was. I think it was my seventieth birthday that I retired originally and went to Las Vegas. And while I was in my seventies, I could move mountains. And I never considered myself as being—getting old. Until I came down for my first breakfast, and I looked around at the people sitting there. And suddenly I realized I am old.

09:36:03 Pamela D Wilson: How old are you?

09:37:16 Lorraine: I will be 85 in April.

09:41:14 Pamela D Wilson: You don’t look like it.

09:42:49 Lorraine: Well, they tell me that. But when you go through the seventies, and you are so capable, you never think or expect that you will be limited to what you can do. And it was just a surprise to realize that the seventies are great years. Don’t be afraid of those years. And when you’re in the eighties, you’ve got to do the best you can.

10:22:76 Pamela D Wilson: How did you break your hip?

10:22:76 Lorraine: I took one step, and I, it was slippery, and I slid off that walk like I was going off a ski slope. So I, for a while, I’m looking at the sky, and I know I’m going to come down and break something, and all I could think of, “Dear God, don’t let me land on my spine.” So I landed on the cheek. And I’m still walking.

11:11:79 Pamela D Wilson: Was it a hard recovery after your surgery?

11:11:79 Lorraine: You know that was a surprise to everybody that I recovered the way I did. Because the very next day they tell you – you gotta get up, you know. And I thought I gotta get up. I gotta get up. So, I better do what they say. I didn’t realize that there was a reason for it. Because most people they have a very difficult time getting up. But I got up, and they gave me a walker, and I walked.

11:52:55 Pamela D Wilson: That’s amazing because most people can’t do that.

11:57:88 Lorraine: No. And I didn’t know because I didn’t know anyone who had broken a hip. Because the people that I was surrounded with were independent retirees and they were still capable of doing things for themselves.

12:18:71 Pamela D Wilson: Did you hear Lorraine say, “the people that I was surrounded with were independent retirees?” Having friends and acquaintances who are younger than us is good for us mentally and physically. If you currently don’t have younger friends, be open-minded and give some thought about how to make new friends. It takes a bit of work.

12:42:02 Pamela D Wilson: You can learn more about making friends by listening to the Caring Generation Podcast and my interview with Dr. Jeffrey Hall about his research and the time investment required to make new friends. (Podcast Link = What Are Adult Day Programs and How to Make Friends at Any Age).  I’ll add the podcast link to the show transcript that will be on my website pameladwilson.com. Socializing is a positive activity that is proven to support good health. After this break, we will talk about the importance of creating and maintaining a social life and its importance to aging in place and help for seniors living alone.

13:20:54 Pamela D Wilson: Join me every Wednesday for a new episode of The Caring Generation. The show is not limited by time zone or location—caregivers worldwide listen. Install the podcast app Apple, Google, Spreaker on your cellphone. Add the app to the cellphones of grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues so everyone can become more informed about health, aging, and caregiving. The more information and wisdom you have—the better decisions you make. This is Pamela Wilson on The Caring Generation. Stay with me; I’ll be right back.

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14:29:16 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation. If you are interested in becoming more educated about what you should know about help for seniors living alone, information is on my website. You can also contact me to schedule an elder care consultation where I can help you gain perspective about aging and make the right decisions for you or an elderly loved one. Visit my website pameladwilson.com. Click on How I Help, then Family Caregiver Support. Next, Elder Care Consultant to schedule a phone call or virtual meeting.

15:05:79 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk about #2 for help for seniors living alone interested in aging in place. This is noticing minor changes that may indicate serious underlying issues exist. If you see the changes early enough, sometimes you can catch and reverse the problem. Other times because of the length of time this change has been occurring, the best you can do is maintain the condition or adapt to the situation.

15:37:64 Pamela D Wilson: Part of noticing changes is to have the ability to detect the change yourself or have a friend or family member mention the change or concern to you. The pandemic changed the ability of everyone to participate in regular social activities and contact. It might take effort to begin socializing again if you didn’t keep in touch with the people, groups, or organizations that held your interest.

0:16:07:29 Pamela D Wilson: As we talked about before the break, socializing is extremely beneficial for health and well-being. Being around other people supports aging in place and is a significant contributor of help for seniors living alone. Evaluate your activity and socialization patterns. How has your social activity level changed in the past twelve months, one year, two years, five years? More or less social activity? How have your interests changed? More or less contact with friends or family? What about your physical abilities like driving and walking—getting around.

0:16:54:07 Pamela D Wilson: The ability to manage chronic health issues that result in not feeling well or emotions like feeling depressed or isolated. Having a diagnosis of memory loss and living alone can drastically change participation levels in activities. If your activity level has changed—do you know why? If you are watching the activity level of a parent or another family member change, do you know why?

0:17:26:46 Pamela D Wilson: For the elderly, any type of change in activity which may not seem significant at first—is important to notice and to investigate. Here’s why. You’re about to meet John, who will share wisdom about why it’s important to notice the little things.

0:17:45:95 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela: So you mentioned that she was first diagnosed back in 2001 how—did you notice that memory was going or what happened?

0:17:54:50 John: Well, I think, yes, we noticed. Her father had Alzheimer’s. And so it wasn’t unexpected. She—we know she couldn’t remember things, but in hindsight, I can trace it back to 84 or 85. She was always active in theatre. Hight school, she was in 12th place, in college every quarter, she was at Iowa State. And community theatres, and for the first time ever in the fall of 84 or the spring of 85, she asked for help with her lines. And when we moved in 85 to Ft. Collins, I asked her if she was going to get in the theatre there, and she said no. It didn’t interest me at the time; I just thought she was tired of it, and so she went with Friends of the Library, and she published their newsletter for thirteen years with my help. She wrote it. I published it, and she mailed it. So she’s always been active in community affairs. It’s tough seeing that she can’t, but that’s life.

18:56:36 Pamela D Wilson: So how has all of this changed your life? Has it changed your life a lot?

18:56:36 Boyd: It has, and it hasn’t. It’s restricted some of the things I can do and particularly when I can do them.  However, her father was a wanderer, but she doesn’t partly, I think, because of her back. So I’ve walked nine holes of golf 84 times this year. And I intend to do it again tomorrow. [chuckle]

19:19:95 Pamela D Wilson: Oh, that’s fantastic.

19:21:35 Boyd: So, and I can leave her while I can do that. I haven’t had any major problems with worrying about her. About two months ago, now probably. I thought I heard something upstairs and the door, and she’d gone across to the neighbors. Then the next night, I heard the door. And so here she was, she was out looking into their car. She thought somebody was going to come to pick her up. But that sort of passed, and I handled that this way. We have an ADT alarm system, and so I put it on the stay setting. So the motion detectors won’t ring, but if the door should open, then I hear it. Well, probably two months ago, the alarm woke, went off at 1:20 in the morning, and I went running downstairs to call ADT, and I said, “what are you doing down here?” And she said, “well, the people upstairs want to go to breakfast.”  So I’m a nut, I’m playing on words. So I told the kids. I send them a weekly message about how we’re doing. I said, “I don’t have to worry about leaving her alone anymore; she’s got friends upstairs.” [chuckle)

0:20:27:51 Pamela D Wilson: If you are a caregiver for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you know what John is saying is true. Sometimes our loved ones can see things that may not be there or see things that we don’t see. Hear things or experience other day-to-day issues that it’s difficult for those of us who don’t have memory loss to understand.  But, as you can see, John has a positive outlook toward his wife’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Even more importantly, he is committed to remaining socially and physically active through daily participation in golf.  Maintaining social connections is essential for spousal caregiver well-being.

0:21:15:25 Pamela D Wilson: Really for all caregivers. Don’t give up your life to be a 24/7 caregiver regardless of your situation. Maintain your social contacts and your friends. The effect on your physical and mental health—not to mention your financial situation, can negatively affect your ability to age in place and be independent when you are older. Let’s look at #3 for aging in place and help for seniors living alone. It is learning how to manage chronic disease. Chronic disease management is a topic that doesn’t receive the recognition that it deserves. In part because doctors are rushed.

0:21:58:45 Pamela D Wilson: You are lucky to get a 15-minute medical appointment. Being diagnosed with a chronic disease when you are young or middle-aged can make you feel and look old before your time. A lack of physical activity at any age can result in obesity and heart disease. You might notice your lung capacity starting to decrease. Feeling breathless from performing simple activities occurs. The body loses muscle mass, which negatively affects balance and can increase the likelihood of falls or other injuries.

0:22:38:43 Pamela D Wilson: How many women listening have had your bone density exam. How did that turn out? Women, especially after menopause, can experience thinning bones leading to osteoporosis. Like Lorraine, who we heard earlier, experiencing a serious fracture, like a broken hip or vertebrae, can make mobility more difficult and change your life.

0:23:05:58 Pamela D Wilson: Gaining wisdom about what it takes to age in place and about these topics related to help for seniors living alone early in life can make it possible for you to live the life you want when older instead of feeling like a prisoner in your home because you physically cannot get out and do the activities you once loved. Bottom line, if you have a health diagnosis, learn and gain wisdom about the diagnosis. Consult a care manager, like myself, who has experience with seniors, and aging, and health, and caregiving that can help you understand aspects of health to monitor.

0:23:49:39 Pamela D Wilson: Then you can make sure that your health issues don’t turn into more serious health issues in the future. Learn how each of the major chronic diseases relate to each other and actions you can take to stay healthy and active. If you have arthritis or any inflammation in the body, know that brain function and memory function can be affected.  Number 4 in help for seniors living alone is to examine nutrition and eating habits. Nutritional needs change around age 50.

0:24:28:77 Pamela D Wilson: The digestive system and the ability to absorb food changes. If you take medications, know that the way that the body metabolizes medications changes. If you suffer from indigestion or any stomach issues, this affects your overall health. Do you understand the cause of the digestive problems that you experience? If not, seek information to identify the cause. As we age, the aging body needs more protein? How much protein do you get every day? Are you staying hydrated? Dehydration causes very serious issues for older adults.

0:25:10:66 Pamela D Wilson: Help for seniors living alone and aging in place. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to do to stay healthy and active physically and mentally. If you are interested in a plan for aging in place, visit my website pameladwilson.com and contact me. Follow me on social media. On Facebook, I’m @pameladwilsoncaregivingexpert, on Twitter @caregivingspeak, Instagram @wilsonpamelad, and Linked In @pameladwilsoncaregiverexpert. We’re off to a break. I am Pamela D Wilson, caregiving expert, caregiving speaker, and elder care consultant with you on The Caring Generation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.

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0:26:23:77 Pamela D Wilson:  This is Pamela D Wilson on The Caring Generation program for caregivers and adults. Whether you are twenty or 100 years old, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. If you’re not sure how to talk to your children about caregiving issues or if you’ve tried to talk to your aging parents. Let me start the conversation for you.

0:26:49:19 Pamela D Wilson:  Introduce your parents or your adult children to my YouTube Channel. I’ll put a link in this show transcript—where there are hundreds of videos, or share this podcast. Next, schedule a telephone or online consultation. I’ll help you create a care plan for aging in place. Before the break, we were talking about chronic disease management. I want to share one more interview with Margie, who shares her story about a health diagnosis.

0:26:49:19 Margie: Well, I have congestive heart failure.

0:27:24:84 Pamela D Wilson: And how does that affect you.

0:27:25:76 Margie: I went. I just went to the doctor Thursday, and I was in the hospital for five weeks.

0:27:32:94 Pamela D Wilson: Oh my, when?

0:27:33:05 Margie: Well, I had a heart attack. But I don’t think it was a heart attack at that time. I swear I don’t think it was a heart attack—because. They know more than I do. They put me. I was working out in the yard. It was 93 degrees—93—and I had a heat stroke. And I got up, and I thought, well I’m going in. It’s getting hot out here. And I got up there, and the room was going around and around and around. And so I went to the bathroom, got up and went to the bathroom, and I got back, and I thought maybe it’s over with. And I got in bed, and the room was going around and around and around. So I called the doctor, and I was wondering. I couldn’t figure out what it was, and she said, you’re going to the hospital. They took me into the hospital, and they said I had congestive heart failure.

0:28:24:47 Pamela D Wilson: Congestive heart failure.

0:28:34:47 Margie: Yes, that’s what it was. My blood pressure was high. But it’s under control now. But it was real high at that time. Oh God—183 over 90 something.  It was really high. And I didn’t have my Lisinopril. I take Lisinopril. So I had to go to the drug store to get it. And I was in the drug store, and they said, “are you all right, Margie?” They all know me.  Are you all right? I said, “yeah. “They said, “I don’t think so.” And the first thing I know, I’m back in the hospital.

0:29:05:19 Pamela D Wilson: Experiencing chronic diseases can have many older adults in and out of the hospital. I help caregivers, and aging adults manage chronic health conditions so that older adults can stay at home and out of the hospital. The experiences shared by Lorraine, John, and Margie prove that we cannot predict what will happen with our health. But that eventually, something will happen. Recognizing that aging in place and help for seniors living alone benefits from creating a care plan for the future is a proactive step. Creating a care plan allows you to identify changes and manage issues early before they become significant or problematic.

0:29:49:07 Pamela D Wilson: Number five for help for seniors living alone and aging in place is to be open-minded to learning and gaining wisdom. This means doing things you may have never done before and being positive and receptive when others are helpful or offer information. In some situations, friends or family may offer unsolicited advice. Unsolicited advice is advice that we don’t seek but information that others give us without asking if we want the information.

0:30:24:96 Pamela D Wilson: Here’s another example of why you might receive unsolicited advice. You complain or vent. All you want is for a spouse, son, or daughter to listen to you. Instead, they are offering suggestions because they want to be helpful. Or honestly, they are tired of hearing you complain or vent. Additionally, friends may be expressing concern about you, your health, or your activities. Listen, be receptive. These interactions are red flags that call attention to opportunity.

0:31:04:22 Pamela D Wilson: You have a problem or concern that you can’t solve because you are constantly talking about it. Fortunately, others are concerned about your well-being. This sounds like an opportunity to receive insights to solve a problem that you know you have or to identify a problem you have that you DON’T recognize that you have.

0:31:26:25 Pamela D Wilson: Because we are with ourselves 24/7, it’s easier for someone else who has not seen us in some time to say. “My, you have lost or gained weight. You seem a little forgetful. It looks like you need a little help around the house.” It can be more difficult for us to notice changes that might include inappropriate behaviors or forgetfulness that might indicate a diagnosis of memory loss or another issue. Number six in help for seniors living alone is a risk assessment and creating a plan to manage risk.

0:32:05:17 Pamela D Wilson: Identifying potential risks may be difficult to do if, as Lorraine mentioned, your friends are active, healthy, and independent. Lorraine admitted that she knew nothing about hip fractures because none of her friends had this experience. Now while you don’t necessarily want to go looking for trouble or create problems that you don’t have, gaining an understanding of what adults go through, what they experience with aging can be helpful to identify the risks of what might happen so that you can create a care plan that includes a prevention plan or minimizing risk plan.

0:32:47:95 Pamela D Wilson: For example, what is the plan if you or an aging parent have an unexpected health issue and you or a parent can’t live at home alone—or you can’t continue to work? What is the plan to manage that unexpected? Do you know the options or have access to someone who can explain the options like myself? The longer you wait to have these conversations, the fewer options you may have. Aging in place conversations and care planning should ideally begin when a change in health happens, regardless of age.

0:33:26:23 Pamela D Wilson: Being attentive to health is a lifelong learning process that can begin as early as the twenties if we have the insight. By the age of forty or fifty, you may be noticing concerns with your elderly parents, or if you are a senior living alone, you might be giving more thought to your living arrangements or your health.  Does anyone have friends starting to experience health problems? These situations are little taps on the shoulder like wake-up calls to attract our attention.

0:34:01:02 Pamela D Wilson: Number seven in help for seniors living alone and aging in place is to look at your financial situation. Talking about money may be a difficult conversation if you have not been able to save money. Starting somewhere, even $5 a week or $50 a month, can make a difference in the long run if you begin setting money aside as early as you can. Talking to a financial planner can make a significant difference even if you only have a little money to save.

0:34:34:08 Pamela D Wilson: It doesn’t matter. This idea—talking about money—takes us back to idea number five about being open-minded to learning and gaining wisdom. Aging adults who consult with experts in the aging and caregiving fields, financial planning, and elder law gain wisdom of what’s involved in aging in place. Help for seniors living alone benefits from gaining wisdom from others who know more than you do about costs of care, health, and legal matters related to health and money management.

0:35:10:26 Pamela D Wilson: Do you know what Medicare pays for and what it doesn’t pay for? If you can’t live alone, what does it cost to hire an in-home caregiver if your family or friends are not available? What are the risks of living alone if you can’t take care of yourself? These are uncomfortable but necessary conversations that make aging in place possible. If you don’t know what can happen, you can’t plan. So many people say, “Oh, O will think about this tomorrow.”

0:35:43:48 Pamela D Wilson: Something changes. Tomorrow becomes today, and not thinking about it—avoiding the present—no longer an option. All you can think is, “I wish somebody told me that, or I wish somebody told me this might happen.” Spoiler alert: you have to ask the right people with experience to educate you and share their wisdom about what you should know—and then you can make your own decisions. Having this wisdom makes it easier to make decisions that will have a significant effect on your life, health, and well-being.

0:36:18:17 Pamela D Wilson: We’ll talk about number seven for aging in place and help for seniors living alone after this break. The importance of making your own decisions and plans so that you can talk to your children. Instead of doing nothing and having your children make plans and decisions for you. Wouldn’t you rather be the person who has a plan and feels in control, or would you rather feel out of control because you didn’t make a plan and now your children are taking over and deciding for you?

0:36:51:21 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving speaker, expert, and consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are looking for hope, help, or support for an aging or caregiving challenge, I can help. Visit my website PamelaDWilson.com and take my caregiver survey to share your situation and give me your requests for future topics for this podcast or videos on my YouTube channel. You can also contact me through my website to schedule a one-to-one care consultation. Stay with me. I’ll be right back.

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0:37:49:25 Pamela D Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, speaker, and consultant on The Caring Generation. If you are an aging adult or a caregiver not sure what to do or how to plan for care, visit my website PamelaDWilson.com with resources for caregivers. Check out my caregiving library, my Caring for Aging Parents blog, listen to all of The Caring Generation podcasts, read the show transcripts, watch videos, and check out my online elder care courses. There’s something for everyone at PamelaDWilson.com

0:38:23:88 Pamela D Wilson: Number seven for aging in place and help for seniors living alone is to put a plan in place and discuss the plan with your children. This is the ideal situation so that you are in the driver’s seat versus the other way around. Most children I know would rather not play a guessing game trying to figure out what elderly parents want—when parents don’t know or have difficulty making decisions because of not making plans.

0:38:56:39 Pamela D Wilson: Most older adults that I know want to remain in their homes. They want to age in place. But not all parents make a plan that they discuss with their children. Parents who take action are usually those who took care of their aging parents and recognize that they don’t want to put their children in the position of being responsible for all of their needs. These are the adults who come to me and say I want to stay living at home.

0:39:30:08 Pamela D Wilson: Help me. What issues should I know about that would cause me to leave my house? What does care cost so that I know if I have enough money saved or if I may have to look at other alternatives. There is a long list of questions that exist that aging parents and adult children should ask, but they don’t know to ask because of inexperience. Making a care plan involves understanding the ongoing components of, for example, managing a house.

0:40:04:08 Pamela D Wilson: When we’re young, all of the work involved in taking care of a house can seem like fun. We are excited to own a new home and have the opportunity to make it ours by decorating, and landscaping, and all of those fun activities. But when we are 70 or 80, that home can become more work than we can manage. Or more work than we want to manage. If we were married and our spouse took care of all of those things, and he or she has passed away, we may not be sure how to manage all of these things.

0:40:40:71 Pamela D Wilson: This is the idea of planning for help for seniors living alone. Who changes your furnace filter? Who do you call when the faucet leaks? Who mows the lawn, shovels the snow? What if your car breaks down—who do you call. If you are sick and you can’t drive, how do you get to the doctor? These all seem like simple issues to navigate unless you have physical difficulty getting around or don’t feel well on most days.

0:41:13:41 Pamela D Wilson: Some days for older adults, just getting out of bed, showering, and getting dressed—if you have a lot of health issues—can take all of your energy. That alone can feel like a major accomplishment. Thinking that this situation of not knowing what to do, not knowing where to get help, may never happen to you—it’s impractical. It can happen to all of us in the blink of an eye with an unexpected accident or one health diagnosis that leads to another and another and one health complication after the next.

0:41:54:34 Pamela D Wilson: Help for seniors living alone includes finding support with managing all of these aspects so that you have a plan. A plan means that you have support when you need it and can rely on adult children when you want to—not when you need to or have to. As John mentioned earlier, it’s the idea of sending an email to your children to let them know how you’re doing. Help for seniors living alone and aging in place means that you maintain control of managing your life and aging in place by learning what managing your life and your health might look like when you are seventy or eighty or ninety.

0:42:44:10 Pamela D Wilson: It’s never too early to start making this plan. Number eight in help for seniors living alone and aging in place relates to other changes that may indicate you need more help. These are changes that you may realize but may not want to acknowledge if you are that aging adult. How many of you stay in your pajamas all day, sit around watching television, and don’t talk to anyone day in and day out?

0:43:13:20 Pamela D Wilson: Senior isolation and loneliness are a significant risk for older adults due to the increased likelihood of depression, feelings of anxiety, lower physical activity, and the possibility of being diagnosed with dementia. Memory loss. Living alone can be so isolating that you become a risk to yourself without realizing that you are a risk to yourself. If you don’t talk to anyone or socialize, there is no one to express concerns about changes they see in you.

0:43:50:87 Pamela D Wilson: And if they do—you may ignore it. You may not think it significant. If you become depressed, you may not be eating well. You may forget to take your medications. Nutrition may be poor and result in whatever health diagnosis you might have to advance and becoming significantly worse. If you are depressed, you may be sleeping too much or too little. Being isolated reduces physical activity, which means you are more likely to fall.

0:44:25:99 Pamela D Wilson: One fall and like Lorraine, you may leave your home for the hospital never to return back home. My goal in mentioning all of these aspects is not to scare you but to educate you about the risks of aging that we all will face. These risks are not limited to our parents or our grandparents.  We, as adults, as adult children caregivers, will face the same dangers and struggles that parents for whom we care are facing today. This emphasizes the importance of planning, being open to learning, doing things that you’ve never done before, and having care conversations years before care is needed.

0:45:15:43 Pamela D Wilson: Thinking about health and aging and talking about these subjects is easier when we do not deal with one crisis after another or feel totally overwhelmed about being a caregiver or needing care. Help for seniors living alone and aging in place supports the idea of independence, understanding how to manage chronic disease, being as physically active and social as possible, and recognizing and managing risks so that we all can live the life of our dreams in retirement years.

0:45:58:63 Pamela D Wilson: Instead of arriving at retirement and saying, “Oh, I didn’t know it was going to be this way. I didn’t know that my health was going to have such a significant effect on the things that I want to do—but I can’t do. I wish I would have known about this ten years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago.” There is so much opportunity today, regardless of your age—whether you’re 20, 50, or 70. To make positive changes by learning, what to monitor, what questions you should be asking, and how you should be planning. I can help you. Contact me through my website.

0:46:536:77 Pamela D Wilson: Let’s talk for a minute about using technology which can be a challenge—I know—if your work has never involved using a computer or if you have a cellphone but don’t use it for anything except making phone calls. Technology is continuing to advance year by year in leaps and bounds. Think about this. Virtual medical appointments didn’t exist one or two years ago. Today a virtual medical appointment is the easiest and most efficient way to get non-urgent medical care.

0:47:18:60 Pamela D Wilson: This is assuming that you have a primary care doctor. Online medical portals have come a long way in the past couple of years. Online medical records have advanced by leaps and bounds. This technology is continuing to advance. If you don’t know what an online medical portal is, it is a website that your doctor or your healthcare system has, where your medical information is stored. When you create a login name and password, you can log in and make doctor appointments, ask your doctor a question and look at your test results—like past bloodwork results.

0:48:00:39 Pamela D Wilson: Now, being totally transparent, if you ask your doctor a question online, it’s probably a nurse or someone else in the office answering back. Using an online medical portal takes us back to the importance of patient education and patient engagement. It is the consumer’s responsibility—the patient—to understand how the healthcare system works so that you can get the care that you want for yourself, an aging parent, or loved ones.

0:48:32:46 Pamela D Wilson: How many of you take medications—expensive medications? Medications that you’re thinking, “oh my gosh, I can’t continue to afford to pay these bills.” There are apps and programs that can help you shop prescription drug prices. And here is a huge tip. Believe it or not, sometimes not using Medicare or your health insurance results in a lower price. Few doctors will tell you this, but it is the truth. Also, if you forget to take medications, you can use technology to remind you. If you struggle to keep a calendar or to remember important appointments or information, technology can help.

0:49:24:23 Pamela D Wilson: For seniors who want to age in place and remain independent, technology today and in the future is offering so many solutions. So many options. This is where it’s important to be open-minded and really to try things that you’ve never tried before. Everyone can learn no matter what your age. For seniors who want to age in place and remain independent—so many things. So the question is, how do you learn to use all of this technology? How do you learn what’s available? Well the first is talking to a care manager like myself who can point you in the direction of different apps and different programs to help you manage the things that you want to manage.

0:50:08:97 Pamela D Wilson: Then ask your children or your grandchildren to teach you how to use a computer or the technology of a cellphone. If you don’t have family, there are people—believe it or not that will come to your home to teach you. If you’re listening here today, it’s possible that someone taught you how to use a podcast app or told you about The Caring Generation. Or pointed you to my website, where all of these podcasts reside.

0:50:08:97 Pamela D Wilson: There you just press a button and hit play. If you are a young adult, information about caregiving, health, and aging can benefit your parents or your grandparents especially if they refuse to listen to you. You can explain to your parents and your grandparents that you came across a caregiving expert—maybe even your brothers and sisters. Talk about my website. Explain what a podcast is and how to listen Then you can make it easy by installing the app for The Caring Generation on their cellphones. You can set it to notify them each time a new episode publishes. Where do you find the show?

0:40:30:00 Pamela D Wilson: On Apple, Google, I Heart Radio, JioSaavn, Spreaker, Amazon Music, Pandora, Podchaser, Stitcher, Spotify, and Vurbl, and even a few others. You can show your parents how to scroll through the episodes and listen from the first show forward. There is so much helpful information here for caregivers and aging adults. And I have to thank you. I have to thank the listeners of this podcast and everyone who visits my website. These ideas come from you.

0:51:50:98 Pamela D Wilson: On my website, if you click on the Contact Me button at the top, there is a place where you can complete a Caregiver Survey. You can tell me about your situation and what information would be helpful to you. That’s where many of the ideas for this show come from.  Each of us has the opportunity to be helpful to others and to share information about aging in place and how to help seniors living along. But what we do with the information is up to us. Sometimes having information is not enough. You can have a lot of information and be overwhelmed and still not know what to do.

0:52:30:17 Pamela D Wilson: If you are an aging adult or a caregiver, help is on my website in my online articles, caregiver courses, videos, and one-to-one elder care consultations. If you are a caregiver and caregiving responsibilities are affecting your ability to work, share my website PamelaDWilson.com with your human resources manager or the decision-maker in your company and ask for caregiver support programs. I’d be happy to talk with your company, your group, or your organization.

0:53:03:52 Pamela D Wilson: Pamela D Wilson: Thank you for joining me on this episode of The Caring Generation – the only program of its kind connecting caregivers and aging adults worldwide to talk about caregiving, health, and everything in between. Invite your family and friends to listen each week. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. Thank you all for being caregivers. Thank you all for being aging adults interested in caregiving, aging, and health.  I look forward to being with you again soon. God bless you all. Sleep well tonight. Have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are here together again.

0:53:44:23 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

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About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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