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Aging Care Solutions
January 2019 Caregiver eLetter
      Vol. 22, No. 1
     The gauntlet was passed to us and we accepted it.
 Therefore we will cope, and in so doing, set an example 
 for our children, and the generations to follow.
Contact Kay at 972-839-0065 or
www.AgingCareSolutions.com or
kay@AgingCareSolutions.com or kay@kaypaggi.com
In this Issue:
Benefits Check Up
Mental Aerobics

Follow Kay's Blog
Friends are valuable assets at every age. It is important to continue making new friends all through life because we lose people we have chosen as friends. Friends move away, and we lose contact, they take a new job and we don’t see them as often, they develop a new leisure time interest that makes them unavailable for activities we used to share together. In later life there are more causes of friendship loss. Lifelong friends die or become ill or give up driving, so we cannot shop or have lunch together, or lose their hearing so we cannot visit on the phone. Often friendships are couple relationships. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse does not see as much of their couple friends. If lost friends are not replaced with new ones, we may become lonely. 

Why is this important’? Loneliness is variously described as a void in one’s life, a feeling of deprivation, a feeling of being apart from other people. It is an unpleasant feeling. Loneliness may be experienced as anxiety or apprehension, or it may be felt as boredom, or as a feeling of being excluded from others.

No matter your age, loneliness has a negative impact on quality of life. Older adults who are lonely are more vulnerable to chronic health problems, may have more financial difficulties, are more likely to commit suicide, and may be institutionalized earlier. Lonely older people visit their doctor more frequently, have more visits to the ER, take more medications, and have lower energy levels. Loneliness causes stress. Stress elevates blood pressure and negatively affects diet and blood sugar. Lonely older adults are four times as likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to die from it.  (This information thanks to Jane Nunnelee, RN, geriatric nurse practitioner}

Maintaining friendships and making new ones is important because it helps maintain good mental health.  Elderly people who have several friends report greater feelings of independence and worthiness than those who don't. 

Older people relate to their friends in different ways. The friendships of men are usually based upon structured activities such as sports events. Relationships among women are less tied to specific situations. The opportunity to talk and share their experiences with their friends is critical to the elderly.

Unfortunately, many lonely elders refuse to admit that they are lonely, even to themselves. To admit being lonely is embarrassing; it somehow suggests that they are not worthy of having friends or human contact.

Unfortunately, developing new friendships in later life can be challenging because older adults do not have the same opportunities to meet new people than their younger counterparts. How do young adults meet people who will become their friends? Neighbors meet neighbors in the yard, children play with neighbor children, parents meet children’s friends’ families on the soccer field or at PTA meetings, working adults meet people  in the workplace, at church, and in leisure time groups, such as the bowling league or bridge group. These opportunities for meeting new friends are not available to most older adults. So, how do adults in later life meet new people who might become friends?

Ideas for making friends in later life

- Try re-connecting with old friends. You may have been separated by distance or grown apart by changing lifestyles or new interests. But if you can find these former friends, the things that brought you together in the past may still be present and could form the basis for a renewed friendship now. Try searching on Facebook, or look through your old telephone books, or call mutual acquaintances who might know where the lost friends are now.

- Read. Many libraries have reading groups; often retirement communities have reading clubs. Volunteer to read to pre-school or early grade students. Volunteer in the local library. (Free)

- Walk.  Join a walking group or find a neighbor who wants to improve fitness by walking; some communities have groups that walk inside the building, or outside in good weather. (Free)

- Do Sittercise or Chair Yoga and stay after the session to chat with other participants. Maybe discuss ride-sharing. Join a gym or enroll in Silver Sneakers. www.silversneakers.com  This program is often covered by your medical insurance; go to the website to see if you are eligible. Even if you don't want to exercise, you can watch others and talk to them when they finish their workout.

-  Get a dog! Take it for a walk. Complete strangers, who wouldn’t dream of talking to each other if they walked past each other in the street or in the grocery store will chat if their dogs are involved. From there it’s quite common to form firm friendships. (Almost free; dog costs something)

- Play games. Learn to play bridge or watch the play at a bridge club. Play gin rummy or canasta. Learn to play dominoes or Mexican Train.  Groups of game players meet at Senior Centers. Go to a Bingo parlor (often sponsored by a Catholic church) and look for potential friends. (Free)

- Go to church! Even unbelievers can find friends through church social groups. Skip the sermon if you must but join in the coffee hour or Bible study, or join the choir. Volunteer to sort the music or make reminder calls for the choir master.  Join the flower guild and arrange flowers for the altar, or deliver flowers to shut-ins. (Free)

- Travel. There are several organizations that take older adults on organized trips. This is a fun way to meet age-mates.· · 

Opportunities for people who are homebound
•    Knit or crochet lap robes, or footsies, for hospital patients, nursing home patients, geriatric centers, the Red Cross or Meals on Wheels. Invite others to ‘sit-n-knit’ with you.
•    Create “new” greeting cards by recycling used birthday and get-well cards. Cut pictures from the front and glue them onto folded paper, rubber stamp messages inside and place in new envelopes. A set of cards could be provided as a holiday gift to veterans in a local veterans’ hospital, who could send them to friends and family.
•    Start a telephone reassurance program that matches seniors with other seniors.
•    Work with a school to establish a phone friend program with children.
•    Start a pen pal program with a class in a local school.

“Relationships can be a lifeline in times of disaster.''
   Mental Aerobics is a program of cognitive exercises that I developed in 1994 for use in group settings. It has been studied on three occasions by researchers and found to increase cognition in the participants. These studies have been published in academic journals that are sited on my website. I have posted examples of exercises used in Mental Aerobics, along with the answers, on my website.  http://agingcaresolutions.com/Mental-Aerobics

   I do a one-hour weekly class of Mental Aerobics in various communities. If you have family in a community, or are employed in one, and are interested in having Mental Aerobics in your facility, please contact me. I always give a free one-hour session before adding Mental Aerobics to a community's calendar, to see if residents will find it interesting.

Ready, Willing, & Able

Find a rhyme for each word below so you end up with a familiar three-word phrase in the form “____, ____, & ____”. Example: Took, Sign, Blinker = Hook, Line, & Sinker

1.    Flop, Crook, Glisten                _____________________________
2.    Pin, Brace, Though                _____________________________
3.    Versed, Beckoned, Heard            _____________________________
4.    Leg, Sorrow, Wheel                _____________________________
5.    Bawl, Park, Ransom                _____________________________
6.    Sprawl, Tedium, Barge            _____________________________
7.    Trap, Shackle, Top                _____________________________
8.    Mud, Fret, Beers                _____________________________
9.    Break, Cattle, Foal                _____________________________
10.   Wife, Pork, Croon                _____________________________
11.   Sheer, Rose, Float                _____________________________
12.   Fine, Swimmin’, Wrong            _____________________________
13.   Lame, Debt, Scratch                _____________________________
14.   Head, Fright, Chew                _____________________________

(Answers below)      
Benefits Check Up
Living on a fixed income is challenging. Social Security provides most retirement income for about half of households aged 65 and older. And approximately half of households aged 55 and older have no retirement savings in a defined benefit plan or IRA.

For many low-income older adults, there are federal and state programs that can supplement their fixed incomes, but often they are unaware of them. The National Council on Aging's (NCOA)  website, BenefitsCheckUp.org, is the go-to resource available to easily see if an older adult qualifies for more than 2,500 of these federal, state, and private programs.
I was 
always taught to respect my elders,
but it keeps 
getting harder to find one. 
Answers to Mental Aerobics
1. Stop look listen
2. Win, place show
3. 1st, 2nd. third
4. Beg, borrow steal
5. Tall dark handsome
6. Small, med, large
7. Snap crackle pop
8. Blood sweat tears
9. Shake rattle roll
10. Knife fork spoon
11. Ear, nose, throat
12. Wine women song
13. Game set match
14. Red white blue
Caregiver eLetter is written by Kay Paggi, Care Manager Certified, National Certified Gerontological Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor. Thank you for reading it. If you  need guidance assisting your older relatives, please contact me and let's find a way together to increase their quality of life while decreasing your frustration. 
Copyright © 2016 Aging Care Solutions, All rights reserved. 

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