Including Good Health as Part of My Retirement Plan

I was ready to retire. I was growing weary and my health was declining.

After almost 13 years of being the only caregiver for my disabled husband, I realized that it felt like my life force was literally being poured out.

However, I still had much to accomplish in my long and lovely life.

I urgently needed to simplify my life in order to slow the pace and find a balance of my own choices.

So I made drastic but gradual changes, moving to Florida and reducing my living space.

I revised my budget to be sure I was living below my means. People wondered about me, but I was excited.

I asked myself, in the splendid shadow of Thoreau, what I really wanted out of this final volume of my life's book.

My desire was to continue my writing, spend time with friends and family, and work to achieve a more healthy lifestyle.

Eating to Live -- Healthy and Well

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Reading and listening to success stories had convinced me that I needed to aim for little goals and tiny tweaks to my daily habits.

So the first rule I adopted for myself was to spend at least 10 minutes in the produce aisle each time I shopped for groceries.

Pure boredom brings about taking a longer look at possible food choices.

This reminded me of my love for yellow crookneck squash, and I gradually began to experiment with eating a wider variety of foods.

stir frySince retirement allowed me much more time to cook, I valiantly resisted filling my schedule with busyness.

It seemed necessary to prioritize food first as I worked to revise my habits of cooking and eating.

I started fixing homemade soups, making it easier for us to increase our intake of veggies.

Sometimes I used a prepared soup as a base, then chopping four or five fresh veggies to sauté and add. Soups became a glorious expression of creativity and adventure.

Then I added the joy of stir-fry cooking!

Half of the time we had a breakfast of oatmeal with Greek yogurt, honey and blueberries all stirred in for fun and health.

A banana became a mid-morning snack.

Smaller Portions For Supper

I faced the fact that in our middle-aged working years we had gotten into the habit of eating our biggest meal of the day at night.

Also, much of our social life involved food in the evening.

As we made new social connections I kept two issues in mind. One was driving at night held decreasing appeal as my eyes aged, and the second one, finding social activities which didn't involve eating at night was now possible, and in fact vital for my plans.

I had known for years the value of eating more during the day and less in the evening meal, but the pull of work and social obligations made it a challenging task and easy to avoid.

So in my new life plans, I decided we would not eat anything after supper!

I eventually pushed that time to the 5 p.m. hour, with a goal of closing the kitchen at 6 nightly.

My husband and I went through a bit of withdrawal but eventually adjusted, even not feeling hunger after that time -- due to attending to protein needs throughout the day and at supper.

Afternoon snacks of nuts, fruit, and popcorn helped keep blood sugar level while providing a fiber and protein balance.

I placed special emphasis on whole grains along with better and fewer carbs.

There were very few no-nos other than smaller dishes and no eating after supper.

I tried to concentrate on what to do,  instead of what not to do!  So I poured my heart and soul into devising meals and snacks, taking time to savor eating.

If someone gave me a treat like brownies, I saved it for the next morning.

Then I could relish it with a cup of coffee or tea upon waking since I would have all day to use up those luxurious calories.

I allowed myself to indulge about once a week. We had lunch with friends on the weekends, and I enjoyed a small ice cream then. So I didn't crave anything since there were no taboos.

Moving Them Bones

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Everyone knows moving is vital for a healthy body. But how to weave this wisdom into habits?

We started with a 30-minute walk each evening. Since we were on a budget, taking a walk helped substitute for shopping (a habit many of us know all so well!)

Sometimes we added a mid-morning stroll. I've continued short 5-minute walking sprints of a couple of blocks several times a day.

I find that allows me to enjoy nature while taking stock of my day, providing much-needed pause to reflect or just "be".

When a local hospital offered a class on balance and later healthy lifestyle, we took the classes, each lasting several weeks.

This is when I started using ice and/or heat to ease daily aches and pains--preferring it to medications when possible.

A Date with the Dreaded Scales

standing on scaleFinally, I must address the buzz word -- weight!

For me, weighing each morning upon awakening helped me focus on my goal.

I know many prefer weekly or monthly weigh-ins, but this became a meditative practice to help me focus on patience and hope.

If I weigh too much, I simply am reminded to stay on course; if I have a good number, I'm encouraged to stay on course also.

However, when I didn't get around to the weigh-in, I somehow gave myself permission to stray from my goal.

I don't set big goals since I've seen that fail so often, I set 1-5 pound goals and celebrated even at 1/2 lb. losses.

I recognized staying the same as a kind of victory also.

My main goal all along was health. I considered myself a "senior in training" as I tried new combinations and broadened my horizons with more variety, spices, and the ever-fun reading of labels!

I made up new recipes as well as consulting Google and magazines for more workable ideas.

Workable for me means easy, using what I have in my pantry, and staying within my limited budget.

After over several years, I took time to reflect and realized I had lost over 50 pounds!

My family noticed a huge difference in pictures from then and now. I lost around a pound a month and continued to keep my goals quite low, aiming either for the next pound down or to hold my own without gaining.

Since I'd seen friends yo-yo with their weight, I wasn't interested in fast weight loss, so I concentrated mostly on health and not gaining.

Health is the Bonus of Living Well

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But the real bonus is that I am no longer pre-diabetic. Although my knees and hips are not cured, they are behaving better, providing pain reduction and increased mobility.

I have had tough times, as we all do, yet I seem to be holding my own. In hard weeks I don't pressure myself to improve; I work to hold my own and continue to have faith in the process.

When my morning weigh-in shows a rise, I keep that in mind, not starving, but remembering not to eat more than I need.

Sometimes I have chosen cottage cheese and salad or fruit for supper, reducing my quantity but maintaining my level of protein and variety of nutrition.

If I never lose another ounce I'll be OK. But I'll keep the weigh-in ritual because it reminds me that I live in my body and helps me focus on my health, making life better all around.

Even though I had taught that lesson to students for many years, it was time for me to renew my subscription to that vital reality!

Notice I never believed in diets. I strive for a healthy lifestyle where I enjoy food while keeping in mind its effects on my body and my life.

Didja hear me say I enjoy my food? On weekends I allow myself to fall off the wagon a bit and have a piece of cake or ice cream (chocolate please), then reducing my quantity at supper.

So I don't feel I have to give up things--just cherishing them judiciously:-)

Yup -- Smiling Helps

To top it all off, I've hung onto my sense of humor.

I tried to stand in my own truth while enjoying the humor of the medication marketplace where there were "experts" everywhere who knew exactly what I should do--give them all my money, ha.

And of course, they speak very quickly when they mention the side-effects including "a fatal event!"

Take That Body to the Doctor

I knew it was working after the first few weeks. Yet I also knew that my body was in a constant state of evolving toward old age.

You see, I had figured out that retirement is when you make a calling out of growing old!

So I kept regular medical appointments, even when I had no serious symptoms.

Got my cataracts fixed, started glaucoma meds (which could have made me blind had I not had that checkup), began to plan a colonoscopy (yuk), and did regular blood work.

Arggh, I even show up on time for the shot in the eye I have regularly.

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The data obtained from these sources also informed my daily living by reminding me to keep my blood sugar in check while maintaining low cholesterol.

I even keep my dental appointments since I want a healthy heart and good breath.

Besides, the time spent with my dentist reminds me to keep my daily habits strong to prevent the spread of inflammation, which I understand affects one's whole body.

So that is the take of my journey from being at risk health-wise to being ready to face the world in good shape and fine health.

And yes, I will have a slice of my birthday cake, as long as it's early in the day and my birthday comes only once a year.

OK, I confess, my friends and family have birthdays too; I"ll have just a small slice.

 


Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizers Helpful or Harmful?

We've all been taught the common practice of proper hand-washing techniques. Now hand sanitizers seem to have taken over.

Hand sanitizers are everywhere! There is little doubt of their efficacy.

Both homes and schools allow unsupervised use without batting an eye.

Yet there can be a problem in substituting them for hand-washing.

Could some people suffer from not maintaining their hand-washing habits?

Safety Problems with Hand Sanitizers

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According to Snopes, ingestion of hand sanitizer can result in alcohol poisoning. It doesn't take a lot since some can be over 60% alcohol (which is comparable to 120 proof)!

In fairness to the companies that produce these items, they do usually contain a clear warning to "Keep out of the reach of children."

Yet for some reason, the warning isn't always needed, especially with regard to at-risk populations.

Caregivers may not always see what is happening with dementia patients when the product is so readily available.

Perhaps fear of the flu has caused a bit of a premature rush to judgment in deciding proper use of these products.

Due to the strong scent, a number of people are over-stimulated and keep reaching for more.

There is some disagreement among medical professionals as to how much is too much.

Nevertheless, there can be an obvious and potential safety hazard.

Caregivers may need to exercise more control over the availability of such products to ensure healthy practices.

The Need to Supervise the Use of Hand Sanitizers

Unintended use of hand sanitizers when needed but without monitoring may expose vulnerable seniors to the possibility of intoxication or alcohol poisoning.

Some may use it excessively, rubbing it all over like lotion, inhaling it repeatedly, or even lick it.

Maybe it's time to update our best practices upon the realization that unfettered use of the substances may not always be wise.

In addition, if a family member is seen as at-risk for these problems you may want to consider alcohol-free products.

Is Hand Sanitizer Being Substituted for Hand-Washing?

In both homes and senior residences, people have far too easy accessibility to these products.

In addition to the dangers of ingestion, there is the danger of not being trained to wash hands regularly.

Keep in mind that hand-washing is the #1 way to reduce and kill harmful infections.

In flu outbreaks, the most often heard refrain from the medical community is the importance of hand-washing.

Yet many seniors and caregivers may not be utilizing suitable habits in order to develop the significant layer of safety brought about by frequent hand-washing.

Hand-washing has often been taught both at school and at home.

With the convenience of hand-sanitizers, there is a tendency to squirt one's hands rather than go to the trouble of seeing that hands have been washed.

Such an easy fix can lull people into much too frequent use at the expense of hand-washing routines before eating, after using the restroom, and countless other needed times.

Do Hand Sanitizers Have a Proper Place?

This is not to say hand sanitizers are bad, as the effectiveness of the sanitizers regarding the spread of contagions is widely accepted, as many hospitals and clinics across the country use them regularly.

The unanswered question is whether it is really more effective than hand-washing, a number of health professionals warn us that exclusive use of hand sanitizers will not substitute for diligent hand washing.

So one might deduce they each have a place in our cleanliness regimen.

It could be that society is a bit too relaxed. Now that it is known that hand sanitizers work, people are not continuing to give appropriate attention to the vital need for the value of careful hand-washing habits.

Hand sanitizers do have a proper place, but folks would be well-advised to be sure they are continuing good habits of hand-washing and only using sanitizers when hand-washing is not available.

Since being a senior requires a little more watchfulness of your health, above you saw reasons to continue rigorous hand-washing, then hand sanitizers still have a place since we often find ourselves without access to soap and a sink.

So when you hire a Papa Pal at joinpapa.com to help lessen the workload of caregiving or to enhance your senior experience with transportation and socialization, remember to take sanitizer in the car.

However when possible continue to practice faithful and thorough hand washing.


Preparing a Loved One for Assisted Living

When the Realization Hits

There comes a time in the life of a caregiver when it is painfully clear things can’t go on as they are.

This is where I found myself after several years of utilizing senior centers and even adult day care outlived their usefulness.

In my husband’s regular cancer followup, his specialist took several looks at me, the caregiver, and after discussing blood work and his general condition turned her focus on me.

She said, “You’re in trouble here; you need to find an Assisted Living place close to where you live.”

She knew I had been a 24/7 caregiver for 13 years.

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She had also followed his case for about 7 years, so she felt confident in her observations about “caregiver wear-out” and the increasing challenges presented by his condition.

Then and there, she spoke to him about the need for more help and he listened but gave no further response, probably hoping it would all go away.

As a caregiver, I had just gone through the process of realizing that placement is the right thing for my loved one.

After doing research and seeking professional counsel, it was time to embark on the road of making it a positive experience for the patient.

Caregiver Concerns

When I reached that point I was worried that my husband would feel rejected or displaced, so I devised a series of steps to lead him gently into acceptance of Assisted Living.

Being a retired teacher, this successive approximations approach made sense to me.

First, I weepingly told him over several days when he fell that I could not keep it up and that I was wearing out and losing my health.

This was right after three EMTs pulled him out of the bathtub—not once, but several times.

This event was becoming a habit. I spoke till I knew he was understanding.

Then I went to do some work and let him process that.

A Process to Introduce the Idea of Placement

A week later I prearranged with a good friend of ours to sit by him as we ate lunch after church.

I was strategically placed at the other end of the table.

I knew he respected her, so she asked him if he’d noticed that his wife was wearing out.

He was rather noncommittal but he did hear her and seemed to be processing that information.

To support this coordinated effort of enlisting help from friends and family I used the weekdays in between these social events to put out one clear message to him.

I focused on how I needed his help rather than his weaknesses. The message involved my need to regain and retain my health since it was getting too hard for me.

The next week I scheduled him to drop by and see our minister before services.

As they chatted she brought up the problem, saying his wife was in over her head.

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He became concerned. (Even though his life sphere had grown smaller, he did have a deep love and caring for his wife.)

The reverend said she’d heard his Doctor recommended a great Assisted Living place not far from home so I as his wife could visit more often.

The minister allowed him to express his concerns that he would miss his wife.

Then at our usual after church lunch, his male buddies got him to talk about it and voiced their approval and support of the idea.

When my hubby said, “My wife is kicking me out” his good friend looked him right in the eye and countered with, “No! She’s taking care of you.”

Staying with One Clear Message

 

That day in the car on the way home we discussed the matter.

I, as his spouse and caregiver, had to stay strong and point out the positive to be gained from placement.

I reiterated to him that my doctors were telling me I must start taking care of myself.

Also, I reminded him that this was what his own doctors recommended.

He then expressed sadness and empathy that I was having health issues.

That gave me the opening to tell him how his allowing others to do some of the caregiving would help me.

He seemed to be okay with that.

The next week we went for a meeting at Williamsburg Landing, the assisted living place I had chosen after much research and many site visits.

The wonderful director was most helpful and took him on a tour, introducing him to people as we walked around the facility.

Value of Planning Ahead if Placement May Be Down the Road

There is no doubt that long-term care insurance has made a momentous difference in our lives.

We had spent down most of our retirement funds for copays and other medical expenses, and when it was time to utilize the long-term care insurance it was truly a godsend.

If you are in a position to make that decision to start or continue a long-term care insurance policy, think long and hard before you say no since it’s worth its weight in gold.

I faithfully paid my long-term care premiums even when I had to cut back on groceries because watching Suze Orman had convinced me of its importance.

Now my first-hand experience verifies the value of having somewhere to turn when things become too challenging for you to handle at home.

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If that isn’t an option schedule a meeting with a qualified placement counselor or social worker and consider places close to you so visitation will occur more often.

In conclusion, caregivers are usually mentally and physically exhausted when they reach the point to finally decide to explore placement, so a multi-step plan could make the process much easier.

At that time they are confronted with the need to turn it into a good experience for all. Above are some of the ideas which worked for my husband.

It was worth all the effort to ensure that he had a positive transition into assisted living.

The good people at joinpapa.com can pitch in to help in the transition, providing respite, companionship, etc while the caregiver visits various facilities or seeks consultation.

A Papa Pal could make this journey of change a bit easier for you. And they can even drop by the assisted living center to provide companionship and other services for you there.

Placement may be a hard choice, but when it is necessary, you can find your way through it and come out happy with the result.

 


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Happy Valentine's Day: A Caregiver's Love Story

February brings thoughts of love and romance. Yet some stories are worth hearing any time of year:

Jack's life was no big deal. He excelled in business but seemed to find affairs of the heart a bit challenging.

Yet he eventually lived a love story that would melt the heart of the devil himself.

On the way to his defining moment, he stumbled onto the altar with a succession of ladies.

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As his middle years were passing him by, he once again divorced and married a 4th wife. As is often the case with multiple marriages, that love interest did not last.

Fatherhood did not work out very well for him either.

His son had been in and out of drug rehab programs more often than you could count, and his life had never taken hold of any purpose.

This brought Jack untold grief as he kept throwing both money and parts of his heart at the lifestyle of addiction his son had embraced.

Friendship seemed to work out better for him. He relished time spent with Jaques Cousteau's son since they both shared a love of underwater ocean beauty.

He owned a hotel in CanCun and booked exotic trips for diving amidst nature's shining sea treasures.

As a single and greying older man, he heard a doorbell, then an urgent knock at his door one day.

He opened to find his third ex-wife looking desperate as she pleaded to be invited in

She told her compelling story between sobs of both deep sorrows while finding comfort in his presence once again.

She had come to the realization that something was horribly wrong with her and she was out of her mind with a cold gripping fear.

After their long talk, Jack went into hero mode. First, he remarried her so she could get on his insurance and could inherit from him if she were to outlive him.

Then he got her a thorough medical checkup. The heart-breaking diagnosis was Pick's Disease, a very debilitating form of dementia.

This did not help the suffering but did give him some direction for his efforts at helping.

Before too many months had passed, her condition continued to worsen.

Eventually, he secured a 24-hour team of nurses and caregivers to allow his wife to stay home as she so dearly wanted.

The ocean view at Bal Harbour by Miami seemed to be calming to her.

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Jack may have had challenges with marriages, and even parenting, but it is clear he excelled in love.

No doubt he came a bit late to the role of hero-lover, but the daily gift of love he gave his wife was truly amazing.

His attention to vital details and his kind way of including her in his senior years speaks volumes for the type of man he had become.

Eventually, he discovered that he had an advanced incurable cancer and soon was pronounced terminal.

He stepped up to take charge of her future and his by managing crucial details while he himself was suffering and grieving his own demise.

He coordinated with her family in Savannah so she would continue to receive tender loving care.

It was both heart-rending and impressive to attend the "going away party" he gave a few weeks before his demise.

He used this as a chance to connect once more with a number of his friends, and to even coordinate plans on tying up loose ends of both his personal and business affairs.

When his time came and he passed on, his life was a testament to the wise fact that it is never too late for doing something marvelous with one's life.

Careful end of life planning proved vital to seal his love story with a kiss.

Perhaps when the romance and fervor of a relationship are growing dim, a reassuring hug and a quiet kiss can be one of the greatest love stories ever told.

Many caregivers know this is true, and labor daily to bring love and care to their loved ones.

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Life has taught them that love can be expressed in many ways including caring for needs day in and day out.

Caregivers dispense their love and kindness without many breaks or expressions of love directed their way.

Wouldn’t this be a great time to call papa.com and schedule a break for a caregiver you know?

They can help out with regular routines, provide transportation, cook a meal, and do whatever is needed.

No doubt companionship may be one of their greatest gifts.


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Make Senior Living Easy and Pleasant

There are slight adjustments to routines and habits to make senior living more enjoyable while avoiding hassles faced by many.

As seniors, you deserve to enjoy your lives to the fullest!

Seniors don't even have to wait till retirement to adopt these practices for easy living.

Start any time adjusting routines to make the senior lifestyle both pleasant and productive.

Adjustments to Routines and Schedules for Easy Senior Living

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Do all your errands and shopping between the hours of 9:00 and 3:00, with slight adjustments depending on where you live.

It will be much easier to find parking and traffic is lighter.

Also, stores and places of business can give you more quality attention since they aren't overworked at that time.

Also, do not shop on weekends or any other time when working people are out.

Much as one would show consideration by stepping to the right on a sidewalk, these ideas help seniors share space with daytime workers by sharing public spaces to everyone's advantage.

This is civility at its best. Some people recommend avoiding Fridays too.

Also, consider taking driving trips on weekdays to avoid weekends when families and working people travel.

Keep a schedule of sorts, but don't build pressure into it. What does not happen one day can be added to the next day's list.

Seniors Can Be Prepared for Storms and Other Disasters

Avoid keeping too much stuff in the yard or patio which has to be brought in garage or house during storms or other disasters.

Go through your things and give away or put in the garage anything that is not being currently used.

This will reduce the chance of having something blow into your living quarters during storms, as well as improve your living spaces by lessening clutter.

Keep a supply of water and non-perishable food for such occasions.

Also have flashlights, batteries, radio, and extra medications in a consistent place to be easily accessed if needed.

Connect with the Community for Pleasant Senior Lifestyle

Become involved with the community. It could be in a church or community center.

But being connected with the greater world around you makes one come alive and gives meaning to the days.

Senior centers provide not only fun, education, and entertainment, but often serve food as well.

Volunteering is another effective way of connecting with the community.

Use the skills you've spent years honing to make the world a better place.

Help in a museum or community center. Follow your personal interests to do things you've always wanted to do.

Helping someone is like a high-potency vitamin for both your body and the soul.

Stay Physically and Mentally Active for Successful Senior Living

In addition to normal medical exams and maintenance, it is important to practice a healthy lifestyle.

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One of the ways to do this is to stay physically active. Walk, swim, work out, do some yoga, garden, to keep your body in working order.

When you wear out, take a nap - it does wonders for your energy.

Commune with nature by frequenting parks or gardens. Watch the sunrise or set. Watch birds.

Get in touch with your spiritual self. I even enjoy watching a tree as it stills my soul and feeds my heart.

Other Hints for Stress-Free Senior Living

Wear comfortable clothes

Women can benefit from wearing clothes with pockets to eliminate or reduce the need to always lug a purse around.

Replace credit cards with cash

Lessen or eliminate credit cards. Live on cash, living frugally when necessary and spend when you can afford to.

Living beneath your means creates a buffer zone to use when challenges arise.

Cook for four

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Don't cook for one or two. Cook for four or more; then freeze the uneaten portion to make another day's meal easy with the microwave.

Unclutter your home

Make reducing unneeded stuff a weekly practice; keep a box on hand for things you no longer use; someone else out there may need them:-)

Connect with younger generations

Maintain intergenerational connections, with relatives, neighbors, and friends.

Loneliness is greatly reduced when connections are fostered.

Schedule your tasks

Assign a day for certain tasks, like watering, grocery shopping, housecleaning, etc. It gives shape to the week.

Plan ahead

Reduce caregiver stress by planning ahead: have long-term care insurance, end of life paperwork done, and proceed with relaxed joy in knowing that.

Take on a hobby

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Give regular time and effort to an interest or hobby, whether it be reading, tinkering with a car, carpentry, or woodworking in the garage.

Senior living can be easy and pleasant by adopting a simpler lifestyle.

Retired people can adjust routines and schedules, prepare ahead of time for emergency situations, connect with the community, stay physically and mentally active, and follow the above hints for gentle and enjoyable senior living.

Many of the above tweaks to one's habits can be accomplished more easily if you have some help it along.

Go to joinpapa.com to find college students ready and able to keep you company while assisting with errands or even a day trip to a local attraction.

Download the new Papa App and become a member today.

This can be some of the best times of your life. Make it happen!


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Tips for Older Adults During Flu Season

What can seniors do to protect themselves from seasonal ailments, like the flu, while maintaining an enjoyable lifestyle?

The airwaves are bombarded with what feels like almost too much information.

Staying up with current information is helpful for sure, yet it's the tried and true habits which may make the most difference in maintaining health for seniors during this flu season.

There is no doubt that seniors are possibly more at risk. Yet it is vital to remember to stay calm and enjoy life – this approach will strengthen the immune system as well as life in general.

Hygiene Habits to Avoid Spreading the Flu

These hygiene practices help slow down a flu outbreak or any kind of contagion:

Disinfect surfaces

Disinfect cabinets and countertops with chlorine cleaners or disinfectant cleaners, as well as sanitizing phones, controls, and door handles.

Enhance laundry habits

Clean hands after touching dirty clothes and before handling clean clothes.

Handle trash carefully

Avoid touching trash, especially tissues, and wash afterward anyway.

Cover nose and mouth 

Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing with tissue or elbow. Wash up thoroughly when using your hands. Politely walk away from others coughing.

Wash hands better than usual

Update your hand cleaning skills by doing the "Birthday Wash" where you sing or hum the happy birthday song once or twice while washing.

You may have another song you enjoy; use this time to slow down, sing, scrub, sing, smile.

CDC says 80% of infections are transmitted by hands! Use hand sanitizer when washing isn't possible, but don't give up hand washing in favor of sanitizers.

Handwashing is the ultimate habit which will protect you.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth! 

Here's where old habits may defeat you. Concentrate on using a tissue when you must scratch your nose, etc. I always say, "Avoid the holes in your head."

Get your flu shots! 

Since flu usually reawakens in the fall, put it on the calendar now to get a flu shot as soon as it is available.

It is a fact that other flu types kill many seniors yearly, so stay on the ball with vaccinations, including discussing pneumonia shots with a doctor.

We all know vaccine doesn't protect against everything, but some protection is better than none!

Plan and prepare 

Plan and prepare as you might for hurricane season, keeping water, batteries, non-perishable food on hand as people always should anyway. Don't forget garbage bags and facial tissues.

Go about your normal life

Go about your normal life but be more mindful of above precautions.

Social Distance for Older Adults during Flu Season

Most older adults have social connections which are quite important to them.

This is a good time to explore ways to maintain social contacts by phone or online while keeping a little more social distance, especially from crowds.

Stay home when you have symptoms

Call the doctor with any questions. The doctor may advise a wait and see, or an appointment.

Patients may be asked to wear a mask. Be encouraging of friends about similar decisions.

Limit exposure to large group situations

Limit exposure to large group situations and observe the 6-foot rule, staying approximately six feet away from anyone with symptoms. (Some distance is advised in any case since infected people can be contagious a day before they exhibit symptoms.

Avoid close contact

Even when in the public remember to keep vigilant about social distance. Instead of a handshake, use a fist bump. Avoid hugs by a pat on the back.

Use your telephone more

This is a fine time to call and check on a friend, or just to visit.

Such contacts help compensate for the loneliness which accompanies choosing to temporarily be more isolated.

Buy gasoline with a card at the pump 

Avoid paying with cash.

Stay away from coughing people

Put several feet of distance between you and people who are coughing.

Seniors Can Improve General Health Habits

What a fine time to give thanks for all that is new and modern in medicine, including antiviral drugs.

Don't be afraid to try these if a doctor recommends, as well as the tried and tested habits above.

Some seniors who are at risk will be advised to take Tamiflu or Relenza.

These can help prevent flu, as well as keep any flu symptoms milder and hasten recovery time along with getting the flu shot. However, they will not substitute for handwashing and other general precautions listed herein.

It is asking a lot of older adults to change lifelong habits, yet this situation may require just that.

Do not steer into the myth that is often heard, "If it hasn't gotten me yet, it probably won't."

Seniors who are willing to consider themselves at risk are more inclined to embrace appropriate safety measures while continuing to enjoy life.

It helps to remember that this is temporary, yet the improvement of habits may be a really fine permanent change to an already healthy lifestyle.

There is much that seniors can do to protect themselves from the Influenza Type A (Swine Flu) or other contagious elements.

Temporary social distancing may be in order while health habits can be improved for the long term.

Most of all, be prepared yet continue to enjoy a calm and pleasant life.

Disclaimer

Everything herein is informational only, and not to be construed as medical advice or a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.

The Centers for Disease Control is providing regular updates. The CDC was a source for much of the above information.

Request a Papa Pal

There would be a great advantage to utilizing a Papa Pal to help secure adequate provisions in case you need a few days of relative inactivity for recuperation.

They can be found at Papa.com and may be used to help with shopping, transportation, or even companionship, which we all know boosts your immunity!

Might as well enjoy the tasks involved in warding off the flu while preparing for possible times of being under the weather.


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Snowbirds Live The Good Life Letting Others Shovel Snow

The lifestyle of retired adults who travel south to avoid snow has been dubbed snowbirding.

Snowbirds are usually senior citizens who are well off enough to afford to travel, and inventive and organized enough to manage two households or similar situations in order to experience seasonal migration.

Due to baby boomers, increasing numbers enjoy such freedom and adventures.

Where Migrating Seniors Come From

They often hail from the Northeast or Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, or even as far as Ontario.

Most come from places north of the Mason-Dixon line. However, heavy snowfalls found in higher elevations of Appalachian, Smokey, and Rocky Mountains are enough to send these retirees on the road south.

Where Snowbird Seniors Go

Many can be seen in Florida or South Texas, but some head more westerly for New Mexico and Arizona.

Some have even been found in Nevada, South Carolina, and even Mexico. Less end up in California as some Snowbirds are known to be careful with their budgets.

The decision about where to land can involve available information about real estate, travel interests, hobbies, scenic preferences, and even location of family or friends.

Some Snowbirds See Family in Either the North or South Regions

A number of migratory seniors live near family members in either the north or south.

During the portion of the year when they have family nearby, they celebrate events of note like holidays and birthdays, etc.

During the time they are away from the family, they tend to establish connections with an adopted community.

They may sing in a choir or participate in community organizations as they would in their original community.

Some use this time to follow particular interests of history, travel, learning, or other adventures to their liking.

What Snowbirds Do with Property while Gone South

Here are some ways to handle the homestead while going south:

  • Property manager
  • Friend or neighbor
  • College student house-sit if very responsible
  • House sitter or house-sitting firm (they have it down to a science)
  • Short-term rental
  • Leave it empty

There are online sources of both ideas and people to help with managing the property of Snowbirds while they are down south.

Advantages of Snowbirding for Seniors

  • The best is no snow to shovel!
  • Developing friendships and social networks in both the north and south
  • Enjoying the best of both worlds
  • Breaking the monotony of staying in one place
  • RVs can be relatively cost-effective
  • Sense of community with other retired snowbirds
  • The lifestyle of a snowbird gives retirees something to look forward to with the change of seasons

Snowbirding can be started as a trial run to see how it fits with a particular person or couple's individual preferences.

Disadvantages of Being a Snowbird During Retirement

  • Never being completely a permanent part of a community
  • Missing family, friends or holiday activities
  • The organizational obligation of keeping up two domiciles
  • Finding someone to look after the main home while traveling
  • Security and safety issues
  • Possible increase in budget
  • Additional cross-border issues for Canadians

Living That Good Life

These active seniors often have doctors in both locations who know their history since they may spend half of the year in each place.

Especially with online information sharing capabilities, it is quite easy for medical records to be accessed from either domicile.

Caregivers develop resources in each location. One such helpful source is Papa.com where a senior can find an extra hand for errands, socialization, and any other needed tasks, even including help upgrading their computer skills!

A number of older adults find the life of a snowbird to their liking since it lets them enjoy their usual familiar environment, yet leave when the snow falls.

They enjoy warmer climates while their neighbors up north are dealing with cold weather. Many say being a snowbird is the best of both worlds!

 


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Seniors Find Fitness and Fun with Water Aerobics

Much is said about getting in shape--not only at New Year's--but all year long. At many local YMCA or other pools, seniors are becoming fit with no pressure on their joints.

Boomers are flocking to the pools to move in the water while enjoying their friends.

Senior citizens across the spectrum of age and fitness show up several days a week in a quest for fun and fitness at their local fitness center.

From the smiles on their faces, one would think keeping fit could be a positive event in the lives of these seniors.

Water Aerobics Classes Help Seniors Stay Fit

As part of some gym memberships across the country, water aerobics (some centers call it Senior Watercise) is offered and well-attended.

Many older adults who have AARP and certain other insurance policies may find that a gym membership is included in their policies as preventive medicine with a program called Silver Sneakers.

Caregivers may even choose to join their charges as the activities are healthy for all.

Instructors remind participants to keep drinking water often as they exercise. Seniors hear familiar comments echo across the pool:

*4, 3, 2, and 1.

*Now take it back.

*Travel to the right.

*Travel to the left.

*Step, touch, breathe.

You can do it (a most welcome encouragement that brings grins all around).

Full Body Low-Impact Workout for Seniors Seeking Fitness

This kind of full-body but low-impact workout contains no demands, yet offers constant movement ideas and motivation.

People participate according to their own personal levels. (Even some in various stages of recovery from serious ailments can find ways to participate).

Almost every part of the body is addressed as most muscle groups are worked. Yet there is no strain on joints since all movements are under water.

Some workouts even include finger exercises done under water.

For a better part of an hour, older adults involved in water aerobics continue moving to the unrelenting beat while enjoying the companionship of others.

Socializing as a Motivation for Older Adults Staying Fit

The pull of seeing one's friends provides an added bonus which keeps many returning to the pool.

It has long been known that when exercise is combined with a buddy, a hobby, or friendships, the participants will stay involved more easily.

When people have fun exercising, there is more likelihood they will do it regularly.

Health Benefits for Seniors From Water Aerobics

If a senior swimmer does even half of the instructor's commands, health benefits could be quite extensive.

Most Boomers and seniors know about reduced blood pressure and stress levels.

The list goes on and on, yet knowing how exercise helps isn't usually what makes people seek it.

Combining an effective underwater workout with enjoying the company of others makes a successful approach.

A water workout for older adults is well worth the effort, both on the part of instructors and the brave participants.

There is no doubt that water aerobics classes help senior citizens become physically fit while providing a full-body low-impact workout.

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The preventive benefits to a participant’s health will certainly pay off.

Having fun with friends in the water acts as a strong motivation for older adults to stay with an exercise program which brings health benefits to all who move in the water.

Some seniors would enjoy going to such classes but may benefit from a little help, companionship, or transportation.

All of these and more are available from Papa.

One of their Papa Pals can help in whatever way is needed. Staying fit while having fun at the same time.

How good can it get?


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Seniors Organizing for the Next Phase of Life

Storage units are sitting full and accumulating dust across the continent, and even in this economy seniors keep bringing bags of new stuff into their homes.

Maybe this is a good time to organize.

Many seniors have dealt with lifestyle changes including their schedules, budget, even social and community activities.

Perhaps this is an appropriate time of life to consider updating their belongings and all the stuff that may take over their life if not put in its updated place.

Possible Goals of Seniors Who Get Organized

There are a number of possible reasons for senior citizens to make a commitment to organizing their environment.

Many seniors move to a smaller place, presenting a great opportunity to make updated decisions about each item they have to pack.

Even when seniors are not moving, reclaiming living space can offer quite an improvement in both comfort and stress relief in everyday living.

Another prime reason for older adults to become more organized is safety.

It is well known that stacks of stuff seem to grow and take on a shape of their own, becoming more daunting with time.

Such items seem to gather in places where they can cause tripping. Since falls are one of the most feared dangers of life for seniors, this is a significant reason to begin taking steps toward organizing.

Other reasons for getting organized include not being embarrassed to enjoy company, inability to keep a clean house, fear of being reported.

And even allergies which can be aggravated regularly by aging possessions (some of which are not contributing to a senior's current lifestyle).

Reasons Many Seniors Avoid Getting Organized

Avoidance 

Avoidance by many older adults who know they need to become more organized for the above reasons and others.

Then over time, it seems more and more foreboding– which leads to more avoiding.

Sentimentality 

Sentimentality is one of the main reasons seniors avoid getting organized.

Holding onto stuff no longer needed can make an older adult feel a remaining closeness to an event or person they cherished.

It's overwhelming

Some feel overwhelmed at the task which seems to be huge.

Even when they want to do it, they get tired thinking about it and don't know how to approach the process.

Physical Effort

The physical task of doing the work can also be a challenge.

Value issues

What has value and how much?

Advantages of Older Adults Living an Organized Lifestyle

Safety 

Safety is the bonus of an organized environment since too much stuff encroaches on walking space. Items on the floor can cause trips or falls.

Also, climbing or crawling to retrieve things will be greatly reduced with an organized system.

Money

Cash generated or tax deduction received by selling or giving to charity items no longer in use.

Helping others

Helping others gives a nice feeling to the senior who shares with people who need these things.

Possessions

Not leaving countless possessions for family members to process upon death or disability offers a comfort to many seniors seeking to be organized.

The personal satisfaction a senior can experience by sharing such items while still alive is of great value.

There is pleasure in seeing the joy of the recipient, be it family or friends.

There are many older adults who are facing or will battle with the challenge of getting organized.

Seniors and others in modern society know how to put stuff into their environment (shopping, etc.) but know much less about how to cycle possessions out of the system.

Professional organizers may be a big help in setting their goals for organizing, especially including the need for safety.

Confront their avoidance issues, and move through the problems to see the advantages of living in an organized household.

As the steps of becoming organized and downsizing become more clear and focused, a professional organizer or friend can help to break it down into small steps, which are doable.

Then it may be time to visit Papa.com and hire a Papa Pal to help you organize, which will bring pleasure and comfort to the senior involved.

Then don't forget to stop and celebrate an uncluttered and less stressful life.


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Getting the Most Out of Your Winter Holidays

No matter what winter holiday you observe, these ideas may help to get your dose of happiness for the season:

One of the most challenging facets of managing Christmas is our difficulty in "seeing the forest for the (Christmas) trees."

If the hustle and bustle of accomplishing Herculean tasks involved in tripling our social schedule don't get us, then the necessity of smiling while experiencing extra frustrations surely will.

A major roadblock to our letting our tinsel of happiness shine during the Yuletide is the myth that it must shine all the time.

Learn by Watching the Tinsel

Ever notice the tinsel on your tree?  It alternates between dull and shining phases.

It would be hard to really feel the shine if there weren't moments and spaces without the shine to provide contrast.

Because it's the holiday season, we suddenly quite allowing ourselves the much-needed full range of human emotion, and insist that joy and happiness are all that's allowed this month.

No wonder depression increases with the season.

This gunny-sacking of negative feelings can end up bursting and casting a shadow on a person's fun and self-image.

Guilt sets in because a person is not able to be happy all of the time, as the season seems to indicate.

Even the excitement and happiness takes a toll on seniors and caregivers alike.

Relief and calmness are often called for along with an acceptance of the possibility of disappointments.

These are at times part and parcel of the season's happenings, as they are a natural part of life the rest of the year.

Empower Negative Feelings Along With all the Joy

Discussion about negative feelings reduces guilt and tension and prepares us to cope with such occasions.

Perhaps attempting too much happiness for ourselves in a short time can cloud our perception of what happiness really is.

The accompanying tension brings behavior and feelings that make perceptive people wonder if all this Yule Gruel is worth the effort!

A step in the right direction would be to let the tinsel of feelings have freedom of movement in ourselves, then in our children.

Express the same range of feelings as you do the rest of the year.

Try saying no without guilt to the events, which may bring you too much pressure.

Continue the Calm Rhythm of Routine

Budget your time so you're not dragging yourself around at the expense of eating, resting or customary closeness to friends and loved ones.

If you usually sit a bit before going out for the evening, do it even if it makes you late for the engagement.  Such routines help us survive daily life.

In addition, alternate exciting and calming activities so excessive tension doesn't build up without the relief valve of restful moments now and then.

You'll know you've wrestled with the "Spirit of Christmas Too Fast" and won:

  • If you can encourage yourself and your family to continue being yourselves.
  • If you're listening to your own drummer and not that of the media, storefronts, or even neighbors and friends.
  • If you can realistically aim for more cozy times than hard times.

AT FINE MOMENTS, here and there, you'll be privileged to catch a glimmer of tinsel shining and realize you are shining that Christmas tinsel!

It would be worth considering ways to reduce stresses of the season.

One way would be to enlist the services of Papa.com and enjoy the many ways a college student could ease the pressures of the season, or just help fill the loneliness so many feel this time of year.