Advanced Style: Celebrating Over-Sixty Chic

I’ll admit it — I’ve been known to occasionally fall down the rabbit hole of online fashion sites. I’ll start at LE CATCH, drift over to FashionIndie, then lose a few hours on The Sartorialist. But because the nature of my job is to acquaint myself with all things senior and elder-related, I’ve always held a very soft spot in my heart for Ari Seth Cohen and his amazing New York street-style blog, Advanced Style.

The Advanced Style blog documents older women (and men) who dare to express themselves in fashion. Mr. Cohen began the blog in 2008 after moving to New York City, where he roams the streets looking to document the fashionable over-60 set — both male and female. As he states on his site, “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest."

The international popularity of the blog has translated into a book, and even a coloring book. Now Mr. Cohen brings seven stylish ladies, aged 63 to 95, to the big screen in his affectionate and inspiring documentary, Advanced Style. Advanced Style had its U.S. premier at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on May 3. Below is the long trailer of this fantastic film featuring some of the world’s most stylish seniors. Directed by Lina Plioplyte and produced by Ari Seth Cohen, I’m hoping the documentary finds wider distribution here in the U.S.

 As the American Baby Boomer generation ages, coming into one’s own style is just one aspect of aging well. Since we’re all living longer, it just makes sense to do it on your own terms. Or as Jean, of Valerie & Jean, the duo behind Idiosyncratic Fashionistas puts it, “I dress for myself. If someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing, I don’t give a sh*t.”

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Senior Mom

The day my daughter was born — my firstborn — I held her in my arms, looked into her eyes and fell deeply and unbelievable in love. Then I picked up the phone, called my mother, and apologized for every rotten thing I had ever done to her (especially during my teenage years.)

You certainly don’t need to be a mother to celebrate your mother. If you are lucky enough to have mom or a grandmother around to honor, we have a few suggestions that go beyond Chanel No. 5 (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Peace of Mind
If you mother lives alone (over 80% of American women outlive their male spouses), making sure she’s safe can be a great gift. Senior-proof the home to help prevent falls. Buy her a Medical Alert system. Technology is a beautiful thing and some systems come equipped with GPS tracking if your mother is a senior on the go.

Stay in Touch
The best cell phones for seniors have have large buttons that are easy to read and a high contrast LED screen. Look for amplified sound and, in some cases, urgent care monitoring, similar to the response she’d receive through an alert system. Two of the most popular cell phones especially made for seniors are Snapfon and Jitterbug with 5Star Urgent Response (which is running a Mother’s Day promotion for $20 off.)

I’ve recently set my mother up to Skype her family halfway around the world. At 83, she believes her flying days are over, but she is always delighted to speak with her brother in Poland face-to-face.

Preserve Memories
Remember when photos were printed on paper? Most seniors have boxes and albums full of memories, but they may be difficult to get to. Scan those photos and present them to her on a digital photo frame. She can watch her favorite memories play on a continuous loop.

A Little Help Here?
Many times we find our schedules so hectic, we forget that the elderly mom might need a little help with day-to-day activities. Perhaps she could use help with shopping, light housekeeping, or simple companionship. You can hire a fully vetted and bonded companion caregiver for just a few hour per week through a quality home care agency.

Time
Let’s face it — the best present you can give is your presence. Stuff is just stuff. If you can, spend a little time with your mother this holiday and show her what she means to you.

Cargiverlist® wishes all the mothers and grandmothers out there a happy Mothers Day. If you have some special gift suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Older Americans Month: Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

Professional caregivers know that the primary responsibility they have to their senior client is to keep them safe and healthy. This entails keeping them mentally and physically (within capabilities) active, well-nourished, but perhaps most importantly, injury-free.

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme, Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow, is focused on injury prevention. Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury and even death than the rest of the population.

Senior fall prevention can be the first line of defense in preventing unintentional injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2010, about 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Community Living hope to raise awareness and help older Americans take control of their safety, thereby living longer and healthier lives.

Older Americans Month was established by President John F. Kennedy in May of 1963, after meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens. At that time, there were 17 million Americans aged 65 and above. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the designation to “Older Americans Month.“ In 2012, the census bureau counted 43.1 million people who were 65 and older in the United States. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other activities, in order to recognize the contributions of older persons in the community.

Here are some events that are taking place around the country:

Seattle/King County, Washington
A series of short films will be presented in a new festival dedicated to broadening the ways we think about aging.The Healthy Aging Partnership Film Short Festival takes place on Tuesday, May 6, with a reception and screening.

Albany, New York
Senior Citizens' Day 2014 will be held on Tuesday, May 6 at the Hart Theater in the Egg at the Empire State Plaza. The ceremony will honor older citizens from around New York State, with a focus on those who have lent their expertise to their communities through volunteerism.

Evanston, Illinois
The 16th Annual Aging Well Conference is a free half-day conference on May 9 providing strategies for healthy aging for older adults, their families, caregivers and professionals. The conference includes a continental breakfast and a choice of two workshops.

Nationwide
National Senior Health & Fitness Day is held nationwide on the last Wednesday in May during Older Americans Month. Over 1,000 locations across the nation will hold health and fitness events. 2014 marks the 21st year of the program.

For information on events, workshops, and in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or call 1(800) 677-1116 to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans. You can also keep up with the latest events and news by following #OAM2014 on Twitter.

A great way to keep seniors safe is to make sure their caregivers are qualified. Caregiverlist recommends working with a quality home care agency in order to assure that the caregiver has received qualified caregiver training such as the training and certification offered by Caregiverlist Training University’s Basic Caregiver Training. Home care agencies also routinely perform background checks and drug testing prior to employment.

Springtime Senior Caregiving

Spring is finally in the air — mild temperatures and a little sun are a welcome respite from a long and brutal winter. Seniors and caregivers who have been cooped up for so many months can finally step outside for some much-needed fresh air and a little vitamin D. It’s the perfect time to have some fun outdoors (before turning your attention to caring for the elderly during summer.)

Outdoor activities for seniors can range from a simple walk in the neighborhood to some more interesting and challenging recreation. Fresh air and physical activity have been shown to have positive effects on both physical and mental well-being. Some seniors can play tennis or ride bikes; others may need slightly more sedate activities. As always, senior safety and welfare should be the guiding factor.

Here are some ideas for excursions for both seniors and their caregivers:

Gardening
Start with a visit to a garden center and confer with experts. Perhaps a full-blown vegetable garden is a little more daunting an undertaking than some seniors want to take on, but there are many fruits, vegetables and flowers that do very well in containers if space and activity level is limited. In addition to tending to growing plants, seniors (and their caregivers) can look forward to enjoying a nutritious bounty at harvestime!

Flea Markets and Craft Fairs
Flea markets and craft fairs are ideal places for seniors to buy gifts (for themselves or others) on a budget. It’s also a great way to connect with people — vendors love to talk about their goods. Go early to avoid crowds.

Walks in Nature
In Chicago, we’re lucky enough to have a beautiful preserved lakefront ideal for walking. But almost all towns have parks or nature centers. Even strictly urban walks can be restorative. Just remember to take care and apply sunscreen, wear a hat and bring water. And comfortable shoes are a must.

Hobbies and Games
Bird Watching, fishing, kite flying are all low stress outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by those of any age. Not sure where to start? Visit your local library and check out how-to guides. Many communities offer clubs for seniors to get together and enjoy outdoor activities.

Take the Indoors Outdoors
Almost anything you enjoy indoors can be taken outside. Reading a book on a bench in the park or on a patio in sunshine can be preferable to reading by lamplight in a stuffy room. Chess, backgammon, and card games work just as well on a picnic table as a kitchen table. And speaking of picnics, enjoy a meal al fresco. Chances are you won’t be alone, and the people-watching will provide seniors and caregivers much to talk about.

Getting outside and enjoying activities can foster closer connections between seniors and their caregivers. Remember to ask what your senior client or loved one might like to do, but make suggestions for activities outside the box. You’re never too old to try new things!

Photo by: Betty Roggenkamp

Senior caregivers are a vital to enabling the elderly age more enjoyably. If you are a certified companion caregiver, consider becoming the next career step in your caregiving career. Become a Certified Nursing Aide by taking a local C.N.A. course. Visit the Caregiverlist Career Center for more information.

Word Search + App Provides Themed Puzzles for Cognitive Exercise: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

Senior caregivers and their clients may find that they tire of playing the same games over and over again to keep up cognitive activity. The Word Search + app provides a fun way for seniors to exercise their brains while completing themed puzzles.

Intellectual activity stimulates the brain and keeps it functioning in top shape. Just like physical activity is required to keep the body in shape, mental exercise is required for seniors to maintain a fit brain as they age. The Word Search + app provides 16 free categories of word searches with options to play on Easy, Medium or Hard levels. Categories range from Dog Breeds to Classical Composers to Ancient Civilizations and range from puzzles with six words to 12 words depending on the level of difficulty.

Words can be displayed horizontally, vertically or diagonally within the block of text. When a user finds a word from the bank below in the puzzle, they simply select it in the puzzle by sliding their finger along the letters of the word in the puzzle to highlight it. A timer also keeps track of how quickly a user completes the quiz, in case they would like to attempt to beat their own time in the future. 

In addition to simply finding the words, caregivers and their senior clients could learn from the words in the given categories. If seniors choose a specific category for the puzzle such as Artists, as they complete the search they will look for names of famous painters which could remind them of a favorite work or peak their curiosity about an artist that they've never heard of before. After finishing the puzzle, caregivers can help their senior clients look up any topics or people generated by the quiz that they would like to learn more about. 

 

The Word Search + app is available for Apple platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

When Seniors Live at Home, It's Safety First

Seniors in America, by and large, prefer to age in place, at home. In fact, according to AARP, over 80 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age. However, many seniors need help with ADLs or activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, shopping and medication management. Family caregivers many times find themselves stretched to a breaking point. Between work, caring for their own children, and other day-to-day demands on their time, caring for a senior may be a burden too great to bear.

Assisted living and nursing homes are options when family believes their loved-one can no longer live safely at home alone. But if 24-hour care isn’t needed, the autonomy, independence, and comfort-level of aging at home is preferential for most seniors. The biggest concern for seniors aging in place, at home, and many times alone, is safety.

A safe home is especially important in later years, as seniors begin to experience reduced eyesight, poorer balance, reduced flexibility, etc. AARP has identified the following primary living space concerns:

  • Safety features such as non-slip floor surfaces.
  • Bathroom aides such as grab bars.
  • A personal alert system that allows people to call for help in emergencies.
  • Entrance without steps.
  • Wider doorways.
  • Lever-handled doorknobs.
  • Higher electrical outlets.
  • Lower electrical switches.

In-home caregivers need to be chosen with safety in mind. Adrienne Sierra addresses the home care provider choice in her recent U-T San Diego Healthy Aging column, Feel Safe and Secure with In-Home Care. In it she discusses the precautions and safeguards that go into choosing a professional caregiver and keeping a safe home environment a priority.

Caregiverlist recommends working with a quality home care agency in order to assure that the caregiver has received qualified caregiver training such as the training and certification offered by Caregiverlist Training University’s Basic Caregiver Training. Home care agencies also routinely perform background checks and drug testing prior to employment.

Safety and security should be the number one priority for seniors and their families. With proper precautions, seniors should be able to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes and lead independent lives longer.

Seniors Live Longer by Building Muscle

Living a longer and fuller life has always been a goal for the aging. And while time on the treadmill keeps you heart-healthy and hours on the yoga mat makes you more flexible, studies now show that lifting weights can actually help you live longer.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine conducted by Drs. Preethi Srikanthan and Arun S. Karlamangla of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, indicates that building muscle mass reduces metabolic syndrome risk factors, which include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Senior obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI) were the senior mortality focus in previous studies. “Our study indicates that clinicians need to be focusing on ways to improve body composition, rather than on BMI alone, when counseling older adults on preventative health behaviors," said Dr. Srikanthan.

The average American loses ½-1 pound of muscle per year according to the Princeton Longevity Center. By age 65, many adults have lost half the muscle mass they had at 25. After age 60, it becomes increasingly difficult to rebuild lost muscle mass.

"The greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death," said study co-author Dr. Arun Karlamangla, "Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass."

Paired with brain-enhancing exercises like those provided by applications such as the recently-reviewed Lumosity, building physical strength can help seniors live longer and more productive lives, helping to stave off the frailty that we’ve come to associate with aging.

Seniors rely on their caregivers to help them live their best possible lives. Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University, provides easy-to-access online caregiver training for professional and family caregivers. The 8-hour training course meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states and provides information on how to best care for your senior client or loved one.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Caregiverlist invites all family caregivers and professional caregivers to take a moment for relaxation with our photo of the week and inspirational quote. This week's photo features ancient mountain resting in Yosemite National Park, California. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors and please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.

Caregiver Stress Relief Photo Mountain

"A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them."

John C. Maxwell

Keeping Seniors Heart-Healthy

Senior caregivers list heart disease as one of the major concerns for their senior clients and loved ones. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the elderly, and it affects both men and women. Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see why many of us know someone in our lives that has been affected by heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

February is, not surprisingly, American Heart Health Month. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. Although some factors can put you at higher risk, such as race and ethnicity, family medical history, and even geographical area, many CVD deaths could be prevented with lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, exercising, and not smoking. Medication may also be necessary to manage conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing heart disease. Here are some tips from the CDC:

Get a check-up once a year, even if you feel healthy. You know the adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers checked regularly. If you have diabetes, talk to your health-care team about how to best manage it. If you need medication, remember to take it.

Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit your fats and sodium. Whole foods are better than processed. Good nutrition is key.

Exercise regularly. Incorporate exercise into your everyday life. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Don't smoke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. Know your body mass index (BMI) and maintain the optimal weight for your height.

Limit alcohol use. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

Seniors living even the healthiest of lifestyles can still fall victim to cardiovascular disease. The elderly and their caregivers should be aware of the following warning signs that necessitate immediate intervention (courtesy of the American Heart Association):

HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGNS

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in other parts of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness

STROKE WARNING SIGNS Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:

  • Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

CARDIAC ARREST WARNING SIGNS

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness: no response to tapping on shoulders.
  • No normal breathing

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above, call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number immediately. Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. Senior caregivers can receive additional Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University. The 8-hour training course meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states and provides information on how to best care for your senior client or loved one.

Yoga for Seniors

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics fast approach and I’m reminded of Caregiverlist’s ongoing mission to help seniors age well. Senior exercise and nutrition is key to healthy aging. While some members of the older set can perform at a higher level of intensity, many seniors and senior caregivers look for less strenuous, but still effective, ways to keep physically fit.

Senior fitness is an important aspect of healthy aging and yoga is an excellent way for older adults to maintain a healthy body and mind. It can help with special senior needs such as pain management, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. The benefits of yoga go well beyond simple exercise and is a practice that, with proper supervision, can be safe for individuals at all levels of fitness.

“Hatha, Restorative or Gentle yoga might be a great fit for seniors.” according to Beth Range Kiely, co-owner of Chicago’s Om on the Range. “We also have seniors in their 60's who come to our studio who love some strong Vinyasa Flow yoga!”

Why yoga is ideal for seniors:

Low impact
Stretching, strengthening and breathing are all at the core of yoga. Yoga can provide all the benefits found in more exerting exercise, like cardio or weight work, without the high-impact dangers on an aging body.

Increased flexibility
Yoga can certainly help with the all-important range-of-motion. It can help loosen tight muscles and and allow your joints to move more effectively.

Strength
Seniors can develop strength with yoga; it is an excellent way to develop the core muscles. By using the weight of one’s own body and holding certain yoga postures for a few breaths, muscle groups are more safely engaged than in weight training that uses momentum.

Focus
Body and mind work together, and meditation is an essential part of yoga. Taking some time out to concentrate on oneself can help develop concentration and relieve stress.

Balance
Thousands of elderly Americans fall at home every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Even if those falls don’t result in broken bones or head trauma, activities of daily living could be greatly curtailed. Yoga can help seniors with balance and subsequently, help prevent falls.

Senior caregivers know that starting a new exercise regimen can be intimidating for their senior client, especially in a large class setting, surrounded by others with varying degrees of experience. Contact a local yoga studio to see if they offer a private session to get started, or see if there are special senior beginner classes available.

Seniors should also not let cost stand in their way. There are a number of free classes offered through local park districts, community centers and (for a small fee) through hospitals. Seniors could also take up a home practice with a video or tape.  Here is a Yoga Journal article on staying FOREVER YOUNG with yoga and it has a few poses outlined (you would need to get on the floor and on your back for some.) If that seems too physically intensive, YouTube has many chair-yoga workouts available, such as the one below.

Caregivers should also make time to care for themselves, as well as their senior clients. Caregiverlist’s Paige Krzysko reviewed a yoga app in a recent Tech Friday blog for caregivers to enjoy for improved caregiver health.

Before embarking on any plan of action, it is imperative that you work with a doctor in order to help your senior, whether they be a family member or client, integrate yoga into their fitness routine to enhance their quality of life.

“The beauty of yoga is that you can adapt and modify your practice to get your energy (also known as prana) flowing each day.” says Ms. Range-Kiely. “Your movement and breath can strengthen, calm and heal your body and mind today and through the decades.”

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