Generation Inspiration: Meet Ida Keeling

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Aging, Exercise, Inspiration, Seniors

She’s the fastest 95-year-old sprinter in the world! Listen as she shares her secrets for success and longevity. Here her story.

Case Managers — What are they & why are they important?

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Health Care

Case managers can be a valuable part of a senior’s healthcare. Most have a degree in social work or health counseling and their main job is to help coordinate a patient’s whole healthcare regimen. Case managers are jack-of-all-trades, using creativity and flexibility to help you and your senior in all sorts of ways. Navigating the medical world can be a stressful and confusing task. In some cases, it can be impossible for someone without the proper training.

A case manager often has a long list of contacts in the health care industry, helping patients pick the right provider for their needs. They can help you pick a doctor, a specialist, a hospital or nursing home. The manager will then coordinate with the provider to arrange appointment times, insurance information and other special needs. It can be hard for you to know for sure if your senior is getting the care they need. A case manager follows the treatments ensure that everything is in order. Think of a case manager as the spokesperson between your senior and the the medical community. Their other tasks include day-to-day medical assistance for the patient, such as monitoring drug reactions and treatment progression.

Case managers are an important part of the medical community. Don’t over stress yourself by trying to take on the burden of coordinating your senior’s medical regimen. Case managers are trained to do just that. Here is some information from The Case Managers Society of America on how to find a case manager.

Using Your Home Equity for Long Term Care

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For many seniors the equity in their home is their largest single asset, yet it is unavailable to use unless they use a home equity loan. But a conventional loan really doesn’t free up the equity because the money has to be paid back with interest.

A reverse mortgage is a risk-free way of tapping into home equity without creating monthly payments and without requiring the money to be paid back during a person’s lifetime. Instead of making payments the cash flow is reversed and the senior receives payments from the bank. Thus the title “reverse mortgage”.

Many seniors are finding they can use a reverse mortgage to pay off an existing conventional mortgage, to create money to pay off debt, make home repairs, or for remodeling.

For those seniors who are in need of long term care and want to stay in their home, a reverse mortgage can create the money needed to pay for in-home personal and medical care. They can also pay for needed medical equipment and handicap adaptation to their home.

There are no income, asset or credit requirements. It is the easiest loan to qualify for.

A reverse mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage. As an example:

  • The bank does not own the home but owns a lien on the property just as with any other mortgage
  • You continue to hold title to the property as with any other mortgage
  • The bank has no recourse to demand payment from any family member if there is not enough equity to cover paying off the loan
  • There is no penalty to pay off the mortgage early
  • The proceeds from a reverse mortgage are tax-free and can be used for any legal purpose you wish

False Beliefs Regarding Reverse Mortgages

  • “The lender could take my house.” The homeowner retains full ownership. The Reverse Mortgage is just like any other mortgage; you own the title and the bank holds a lien. You can pay it off anytime you like.
  • “I can be thrown out of my own home.” Homeowners can stay in the home as long as they live, with no payment requirement.
  • “I could end up owing more than my house is worth.” The homeowner can never owe more than the value of the home at the time the loan is due.
  • “My heirs will be against it.” Experience demonstrates heirs are in favor of Reverse Mortgages.

Virtually anyone can qualify. You must be at least 62, own and live in, as a primary residence, a home [1-4 family residence, condominium, co-op, permanent mobile home, or manufactured home] in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

The amount of reverse mortgage benefit for which you may qualify, will depend on

  • your age at the time you apply for the loan
  • the reverse mortgage program you choose
  • the value of your home
  • current interest rates
  • and for some products, where you live

As a general rule, the older you are and the greater your equity, the larger the reverse mortgage benefit will be (up to certain limits, in some cases). The reverse mortgage must pay off any outstanding liens against your property before you can withdraw additional funds.

The loan is not due and payable until the borrower or borrowers no longer occupy the home as a principal residence (i.e. the borrower sells, moves out permanently or passes away). At that time, the balance of borrowed funds is due and payable, all additional equity in the property belongs to the owners or their beneficiaries.

The most popular reverse mortgages are the so-called HECM loans. HECM loans require that the applicant meet with a government approved counseling agency to be sure the applicant understands the reverse mortgage process.

The Federal Trade Commission states:

“Before applying for a HECM, you must meet with a counselor from an independent government-approved housing counseling agency. Some lenders offering proprietary reverse mortgages also require counseling. The counselor is required to explain the loan’s costs and financial implications, and possible alternatives to a HECM, like government and nonprofit programs or a single-purpose or proprietary reverse mortgage. The counselor also should be able to help you compare the costs of different types of reverse mortgages and tell you how different payment options, fees, and other costs affect the total cost of the loan over time. Most counseling agencies charge around $125 for their services. The fee can be paid from the loan proceeds, but you cannot be turned away if you can’t afford the fee.”

A Reverse Mortgage Specialist in your area can answer your questions, calculate the amount of loan you can receive and advise the type of loan for your needs.

The National Care Planning Council ( has a list of Reverse Mortgage Specialists in your area.

Reprint courtesy of National Care Planning Council’s e-newsletter, Planning for Eldercare.

Lyme’s Disease Safety

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Maryland, Outdoor Safety

Maryland is one of ten states in which Lyme Disease is endemic. Howard County is the second hardest hit county in the State amongst those with cases reported. (Studies in Connecticut and Maryland estimated seven to 12 unreported cases for each reported case).

Lyme Disease is a bacterial disease usually transmitted by a deer tick. Within about a week of being infected, people may have a “bull’s-eye” rash with fever, headache and muscle or joint pain. Further, the bacteria may spread throughout the body causing symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation of the heart or nerves. If the disease is not treated, additional symptoms as serious as mental change may occur.

The Health Department recommends the following:

Personal Protection:

  • When participating in outdoor activities: use insecticide, wear light colored clothing and close-toed shoes, and tuck pants into socks.
  • Check the body for ticks after returning from outside. Removal of a tick within 36 hours reduces the risk of Lyme disease infection.
  • Remove a tick with tweezers, grasping the tick close to the skin and pulling gently. After removal, wash the affected area with soap and water, and mark the date on your calendar, which will be useful to your doctor in the event medical attention is needed.
  • Be able to identify the primary symptom of Lyme disease, the “bulls-eye” rash (erythema migrans). Seek medical attention if the rash is found or suspected.

Property Protection:

Because ticks need moisture to survive, the following are steps to reduce tick habitat on your lawn:

  • Keep grass short
  • Remove leaf litter
  • Create wood chip/rock wall barriers between lawn and forest edge
  • Allow sunlight on lawn
  • Apply pesticides to lawns once or twice per year in consultation with a certified pest control professional

(post via: Howard Country Health Department)

Are Medical Alert Systems Beneficial?

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Loved Ones, Seniors, Uncategorized

Almost one-third of people 65 and over fall each year, half of which take place in the person’s home. It can be scary to have a loved one living alone. What if they fall and injure themselves? What if they can’t reach the phone? There are a few ways to get peace of mind for you and your loved one.

One of these ways is a medical alert system. A medical alert system is essentially a small receiver that plugs into your phone line. This receiver connects to a pendant that can be worn around the neck or the wrist. If the wearer has a problem, they can activate the pendant and this sends a call through the receiver to either an operator or 911. A system like this provides a great way for seniors to live independently with a sense of security. Getting one of these systems can be a tough process however.

There are as many as 10 different providers of medical alert systems. Each provider has different features and drawbacks. You should consider what the battery life of the pendent is. If you fall and the battery is dead, you can’t call for help. The range that the pendent can call for help varies from provider to provider. Some cheaper pendants can’t even signal through walls. Make sure to do your research before you pick a medical alert system provider. A personal alternative to medical alert systems is to hire a home caregiver to look after your loved one.

Choosing Home Care Services That Meet Your Needs

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Aging, Home Care

Making the decision to hire a home care service to provide care for your loved one is an important decision and can, at the same time, be very difficult.  If an illness or recovery from surgery requires nursing care or physical therapy, a physician may order skilled home care services that provide both skilled providers and personal aides.  Your decision is then based on the obvious medical determinations made by the doctor.  But what if you as the family caregiver must determine the extent of care needed without the help of a doctor?

Each home care situation is unique.  In the beginning, family or friends step in to help with simple tasks and support for aging seniors who want to stay in their homes.  As long term care needs progress, more time is required to manage those self-directed funds needs.  Physical and mental conditions change with aging making usually routine hygiene and daily living activities difficult for an aging individual.  Even with the healthiest of seniors, the ability to drive a car, shop for groceries or do general housekeeping eventually needs to be relinquished to the responsibility of another person. To read the complete article, visit

Reprint courtesy of National Care Planning Council’s e-newsletter, Planning for Eldercare.

Spring Is Coming! Take Up A Hobby

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Aging, Loved Ones

With warmer weather upon us, it’s about that time for all of us to venture outdoors once again and enjoy spring! Spring is a great time for seniors especially to participate in hobbies or activities. Hobbies aren’t just fun – they are important activities for senior citizens. Fun activities are great for our physical and emotional health at any age, but if your loved one has spent a lot of time in front of TV this winter, now’s the time to take up a hobby!

Gardening is a hobby many senior citizens enjoy, and it can be simple and easy! Give your loved one some flower seeds, potting soil and a pretty pot for Easter or Mother’s Day. All they have to do is plant the seeds, water it and give it sun. The growth and beauty of your mom or dad’s new plant can be a fun topic of conversation.

Spring cleaning is also a great spring activity for older loved ones. Help them put away winter clothes and get out spring and summer ones, or get some attractive or fun containers so they can sort out their junk drawers.

With the warm weather, spring hobbies for seniors can be as simple as watching grandchildren or pets play outside or hanging laundry on an outdoor clothesline. The key is to spend time together and enjoy the season!

The Rain

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Aging, health, Loved Ones, Seniors

It was a busy morning, about 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone  would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?’ He smiled as he patted my hand and said, ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.’

I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, ‘That is the kind of love I want in my life.’

True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.  The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

‘Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.’

We are all getting older, tomorrow may be our turn.

Socialization for Seniors

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Aging, Seniors

Old people having fun fishingWhen caring for an aging loved one, their physical safety and health are usually the main priorities. But for seniors, socializing is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to living a long and happy life. Research shows that seniors that are highly active socially are twice as likely to avoid disabilities. Harvard University found that socializing for seniors is as beneficial as exercise. And a social life does more than improve seniors’ health and extend their lives – socializing reduces stress and increases self-esteem for everyone, especially seniors.

There are many ways for seniors to improve their social lives and quality of life. Going to church services and becoming involved in church activities, joining clubs or the local senior center, and volunteering or taking up a low-pressure part-time job are just a few. Activities that are challenging physically or mentally such as dancing or music classes are especially beneficial – seniors can make new friends and strengthen their bodies and minds at the same time.

However, these activities take extra effort for elderly people, as many of their lifelong friends may have passed away or moved, and it requires going outside of their comfort zone. Travelling to social events can also be challenging for seniors with disabilities or who no longer drive. Even for older adults in a good health, a professional caregiver can encourage your loved one to attend activities and help with transportation, all while providing valuable companionship.

Depression in Seniors: How To Help

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Loved Ones, Seniors

Older adults have to face painful losses such as their spouse, friends or their own independence or health. Grief over these loses is normal but it can also lead to long-lasting depression, especially for those without a strong support system.

Depression is common among the elderly but only a small percentage get the help they need. Depression doesn’t have to be a necessary part of the aging process. Senior citizens can have happy, full lives despite difficult changes. While many depressed seniors may be reluctant to talk about what they are going through or ask for help, you can learn to spot the signs of depression and insure your loved ones’ health – mentally, physically and emotionally.

The major signs of depression in seniors include:

–       Sadness

–       Fatigue

–       Losing interest in hobbies or pastimes

–       Reluctance to leave the house or spend time with friends

–       Weight loss

–       Sleeping too much or too little

–       Feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing

–       Increased use of alcohol or drugs

–       Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts

However, some depressed seniors will say they don’t feel sad at all. In fact, physical complaints such as arthritis pain, tiredness or headaches are often symptoms of depression in the elderly. If your loved one exhibits these clues, they may be depressed even if they don’t feel sad:

–       Unexplained aches and pains

–       Hopelessness

–       Helplessness

–       Anxiety and worry

–       Irritability

–       Lack of interest in personal care (skipping meals, forgetting medications, neglecting personal hygiene)

If you feel the senior you love is depressed, it can be difficult to discuss with them. Some older adults don’t believe depression is a real illness or are too embarrassed to ask for help, as they were raised in a time when mental illness was misunderstood.

However, you can make a difference just by offering emotional support. Listen to your loved one with patience and compassion. Don’t criticize feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. You can also help by seeing that they get and accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Help your loved one find a good doctor, accompany him or her to appointments, and offer moral support.

Warman Home Care providers can provide your elderly loved one with much-needed companionship. Even if your loved ones are independent, an attentive caregiver to encourage them to get out of the house and do the things they enjoy can transform their quality of life. Learn more about our experienced team of in-home caregivers.