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Driving Safety for Older Adults   

Monday , April 19 , 2021

Driving Safety for Older Adults  

Driving a car represents freedom and independence to many older adults. Yet as we age, many of us begin to experience unavoidable physical and mental changes that can affect our ability to safely drive.

It’s vital to be aware of how these changes to your health may impact your driving skills so you don’t risk hurting yourself or others. Keep reading to learn about conditions that may impact your driving and how to deal with them safely:

Trouble Seeing

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, roughly 12% of Americans aged 65 – 74 suffer from severe eye problems as compared to 5% of adults aged 18 – 44. Many experience vision problems so serious, they impact the ability to complete simple daily tasks. This problem is only expected to grow as the baby boomer generation continues to age.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your eye doctor every year.
  • If you need glasses or contacts to see far away, always wear them when driving.
  • Avoid driving in the dark, during sunrise and sunset, or during bad weather.

Trouble Hearing 

As we get older, hearing can change. In fact, nearly one in three people between 65 and 74 experience hearing loss. This can impact our ability to hear horns, sirens, or even sounds coming from our own car.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Have your hearing checked at least every 3 years after age 50.
  • If you have hearing concerns, speak to your doctor.
  • Try to limit sound, such as music or podcasts, inside your car.

Slow Reaction Time and Reflexes 

As we age, loss of brain connections slows reaction time and reflexes. This can make it harder to handle more than one task at a time, more difficult to steer or use foot pedals, and tricky to respond quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Start braking early when you need to stop.
  • Avoid rush hour and heavy traffic areas when possible.
  • Stay in the right hand lane when on the highway.

Stiff Joints and Muscles 

As we get older, joints get stiff, and muscles weaken. Problems such as arthritis and spinal stenosis can make it more difficult to turn your head, turn the steering wheel, or brake quickly.

To help ensure safe driving:

  • See your doctor if pain or stiffness seem to impact your driving.
  • Be physically active to keep and improve muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Consider hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals.

Memory Loss 

Memory loss is a concern for many people as they grow older. In fact, about 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-related memory impairment. Often, people with memory loss don’t even realize they are having driving problems, so it’s up to family and friends to act. If decision-making skills are impacted, the individual must stop driving. 

More Safe Driving Tips 

  • Take a defensive driving course. Organizations like AARPAmerican Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your health problems or medications might make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • Don’t drive when you are stressed or tired.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers wear their seatbelts, too.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving.
  • Avoid distractions, such as eating or chatting.

What if I Have to Stop Driving?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to get around if you can no longer drive? There are more ways to travel than you think! Many areas provide free or low-cost transportation options for senior citizens, religious and civic groups often have volunteers that will drive you, and most senior living communities offer shuttles to supermarkets, doctors, and more.

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for help finding services near you: 1-800-677-1116 or

https://eldercare.acl.gov

Posted in: Aging

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How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

Monday , January 25 , 2021

How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

By now, we all know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But many people, especially seniors, are experiencing symptoms that aren’t typical – and those symptoms can last for quite some time.

Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 infections in older adults and what to expect in the long run:

 

COVID-19 in Older Adults 

Senior citizens don’t always display the same signs and symptoms of a coronavirus infection as younger adults. Instead, seniors may just seem “off” or like they’re not acting like themselves. They may sleep more or less than usual, stop eating, or appear confused. They may become dizzy or stop speaking. They may even collapse.

Because seniors often have underlying health conditions to begin with, it may not be obvious that these atypical symptoms are the cause of COVID-19. Unfortunately, missing the early signs of COVID, or attributing them to something else, can stop your older loved one from getting the proper care. In addition, people may go in and out of their homes without adequate protection measures, further spreading the infection.

 

Ongoing Effects 

As many people have learned, the troublesome effects of COVID-19 don’t necessarily stop after you’ve tested “negative.” This is especially true for older adults.

Many seniors who’ve become critically ill from the coronavirus report an ongoing “brain fog” – difficult putting thoughts together or problems with concentration – even after the virus has subsided. This can make it challenging to plan out their day-to-day activities, remember appointments, or even have a conversation.

Other reported issues include muscle and nerve damage, continued shortness of breath, lethargy and fatigue, and depression or anxiety.

According to Dr. Zijian Chen, medical director of the Center for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai Health System, while many younger adults experience these same issues, seniors tend to have “more severe symptoms, and more limitations in terms of what they can do.”

Recovery for older adults may take months, not weeks. Many of those who were critically ill may still feel unwell after a year or more and can require rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation.

A Long Road Ahead

Researchers have found that frailty, a clinical condition caused by lack of reserves or energy, leaves those recovering from COVID-19 at risk for sudden changes in health and a higher risk of needing hospitalization or long-term care.

Older adults, especially, may suffer from Post-intensive Care Syndrome – a group of psychological, cognitive, and physical disabilities that may develop after treatment in the intensive care unit.

To help combat these ill effects, doctors suggest starting various therapies as soon as a COVID-19 infection is discovered. Treatments to assess lung capacity, improve cough effectiveness, and increase trunk muscle strength may help reduce the care needed later and lead to less pain.

They note that an emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation is significant for seniors because there is often a limited window in which they can improve. Once muscle strength, function, and flexibility are lost, they can be exceedingly difficult to restore.

While recuperating from COVID-19 may be challenging for our nation’s seniors, it’s not impossible. Catching the virus early in combination with the appropriate therapies can help facilitate a quicker and more complete recovery.

ComForCare can help make the recovery process more manageable. Our in-home care specialists are not only highly qualified, but they’re also kind and compassionate – and whether your loved one requires 24-hour care or only a ride to the doctor, we’ve got you covered. Reach out today to learn more.

Posted in: Health

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What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Monday , October 5 , 2020

What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Have you ever heard someone mention their “ethical will” and wondered what in the world they were talking about? We’re here to tell you what you need to know.

First, an “ethical will” or “legacy letter” is not legally binding. They don’t bequeath assets or spell out your last wishes.

Ethical wills are documents that communicate values and life experiences to your family or loved ones. They express your thoughts and feelings about what’s most important to you to those you care about. They can be created by a person of any faith – or of no faith at all.

And many people find that writing down their personal history eases the existential pain about the end of life.

Keep reading to learn more:

How do I Write an Ethical Will? 

Unlike a Last Will and Testament, ethical wills can take many forms. Because they are not a legal document, you are free to be as creative as you want.

Many people choose to simply write up a document, often just a single page. Others create slideshows, photo albums, recipe collections, or a gathering of favorite quotes.

The document (or collection) can be a one-time creation, something you add to at each of life’s milestones (retirement, the birth of a grandchild, etc.), or something you work on throughout your life. It can be intended for your children, grandchildren, spouse or partner, best friend, and more.

There really are no rules!

How do I Create My Ethical Will? 

According to AARP, you should begin your ethical will by “jotting down notes about your beliefs, life lessons and hopes for the future. You might include details about your family history. You also may want to express gratitude toward family and friends or request forgiveness for past actions.”

If you plan on creating a multi-media project, you might also start gathering photos, collecting favorite quotes, filming video, and more.

Ask yourself, “What have I learned during my lifetime that I’d like to share?”

Here are some topics that others have chosen to include in their ethical wills. Feel free to use these questions as you wish, skip some, or add your own:

Values

  • What values are important to me?
  • What are my spiritual beliefs?
  • Are there any special sayings, traditions, or rituals that have been passed down through the family?

Thoughts

  • What would I like to pass down to my grandchildren or other loved ones?
  • What books and movies influenced me and in what way?

Words of Wisdom

  • What advice can I offer to others about living their lives? Do I have any wisdom to pass on to the next generation?
  • What has life taught me?
  • What have I learned from my parents or grandparents that I want to pass on?
  • If I could change one thing in the world, what would I change and why?

Life Experiences

  • What do I want my family to know about me that they might not already be aware of?
  • Have I ever had a life-altering experience? How did this affect me?
  • What was the most significant/meaningful moment in my life?
  • What made my life worth living? A special relationship? Work? Children? Hobbies?
  • Did I fulfill all the dreams of my youth?
  • Who is or was the most important person in my life? What did I learn from them?
  • Were there any others who greatly impacted my life? Who?
  • What am I most proud of?

Decisions

  • What was the most difficult decision I ever made?
  • Is there anything in life I wish I had done differently? Do I need to request forgiveness or make amends with anyone?
  • If I knew I only had one year left to live, what would I do?
  • How did I choose the recipients for my charitable gifts and financial inheritance?

Creating an ethical will is simple, fun, and FREE. Why not start on your own project today and give your loved ones something to cherish for years to come?

Posted in: Aging

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