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.


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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.

water-aerobics

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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Six Fun Activities for You to Do With a Senior

If you’re a senior care companion, you understand the benefit of helping your senior become socially engaged. It adds to happiness and good mental health, which are important components in overall well-being.

As a Pal, you may be tasked with bringing a smile to your senior’s face through interesting, fun and engaging activities.

If you’re looking for ideas, we have six suggestions to consider for your next companion care visit.

Six fun activities for seniors

Your senior may be interested in getting out of the house, or they may prefer to stay indoors. Regardless of individual preferences, you can always find activities for seniors to help them feel at ease, motivated and even “in their element.”

These six activities are fun for both Pals and seniors alike:

Picknicking

You can probably find a variety of picnicking locations that range from a quaint backyard to a national park.

Use your imagination and ask your senior what scenery they prefer.

Then, whether beach, forest, park bench or flower garden, pack up a picnic lunch (complete with picnic basket) and head out to enjoy lunch in a much different setting!

Gardening

Being closer to flowers and trees Has a calming effect on people. Working the earth with your hands and helping things grow is therapeutic.

Gardening is an activity that requires creativity, patience and hands-on work—research if you’re not sure what to do.

All these things can help stimulate your senior’s focus and concentration and can be a welcome change of pace from the indoors.

Board and card games

The options are endless with this activity. Talk with your senior—they probably have a favorite game and may delight in teaching you how to play.

It’s also fun to find a game your senior may not know about and ask them if they’d care to learn. Variety is the spice of life.

Cooking or baking

Making a meal or snack together allows you to bond with your senior and even learn a great new recipe! Or, you may be feeling adventurous and can scour the internet or cookbooks to find a recipe together—something neither of you has ever tried.

Park visits

The great outdoors is good for the soul. Taking a trip to a local park or nature preserve allows your senior to get some fresh air and maybe even get a few steps.

You can sit by the water, watch the wildlife or just people watch. All of these are benefits of visiting your community green space.

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Arts and crafts

Creativity helps keep senior minds active—and it’s fun, too. You might choose a project that helps your senior create something functional, such as a scrapbook, greeting card, potholder or ceramic dish.

Other ideas include painting, drawing, making greeting cards, flower arranging and knitting/crocheting.

Looking for senior companionship?

Our Papa Pals can show you an amazing social experience, help with meal prep, light housework and more. To sign up for a 30-day free trial visit Papa.com


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Five No-Fail Art Activities for Seniors

The best craft activities for seniors are those that allow them to create something useful but don’t require a lot of up-close detail work or an incredibly steady hand.

It can also help to choose an activity for your assignment that’s easy to gather and transport.

Five art activities to try with seniors

You can’t go wrong with the following five cute and creative crafts for seniors:

Christmas tree apron

This craft makes a cute holiday apron that can be used in your senior’s kitchen! You’ll need a light-colored apron, green rick rack, red rick rack, scissors, craft glue and a yellow button.

First, cut the green rick rack into varying lengths that will allow you to create a tree shape when you line them up horizontally, as in this tutorial.

Next, cut two lengths of brown rick rack to use for the tree trunk. Simply glue the green and red rick rack to the apron to form your tree shape, and add the yellow button to the top as a star.

Pom-pom Pumpkins

For this craft, you’ll need orange yarn, green rick rack, cinnamon sticks, buttons, scissors, an index card and craft glue.

First, fold the index card in half. Wind yarn around the card about 100 times.

Then, cut off a piece of yarn about six inches long. Slide the wound yarn off the card and tie in the middle.

Then cut through the ends to make a pom-pom. You can trim your pom-pom for a more rounded shape.

Add glue to the end of a section of cinnamon stick and add as a stem.

Cut a six-inch section of rick rack and tie around the cinnamon stick as leaves. Last, add a button or two to the base of the stem for flair.

Tile Coasters

These are an easy and useful craft that can be customized to match any home décor.

You’ll need one sheet of felt (any color), one square white floor tile (or more, depending on how many coasters you’d like to make), scrapbooking paper (any pattern—get creative!), scissors, craft glue, a popsicle stick, mod podge, a pencil and two sponge brushes.

First, cut a felt square that’s roughly the size of the floor tile—it helps to set the tile on the felt and cut around it.

Glue the felt square to the rough side of the tile.

Then, trace the tile on the scrapbooking paper and cut the square shape out of the paper.

Glue the scrapbooking paper square to the smooth side of the tile. Let it dry for five minutes.

Next, dip the sponge brush into the mod podge and spread a coat onto the top of the paper. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and repeat.

The mod podge will dry clear and you’ll be left with an attractive coaster! As it’s drying, you can smooth out any bumps using the popsicle stick.

Colored sand mosaic jar

You can buy colored sand at any craft store, and you can find jars in interesting shapes and sizes at thrift stores, the dollar store or garage sales.

Or you can use jelly or mason jars.

Pour different sand colors into the jar, layer by layer, until the jar is full.

Then, using a popsicle stick, insert it into the jar of sand in various spots to form interesting dips in the layers.

To seal the sand, pour craft glue into the top of the jar to cover the top layer, and add the lid tightly.

Mosaic jars make a pretty knickknack on a shelf or coffee table.

Embellished picture frames

You can find picture frames at discount stores, thrift stores or garage sales and using glue, embellish them with anything—use your imagination! Buttons, scrapbooking items, plastic gems, silk flowers and puffy paint are all fun options.

Looking for senior companionship?

Our Papa Pals can show you an amazing social experience, help with meal prep, light housework and more. To sign up for a 30-day free trial visit Papa.com.


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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.


senior winter depression

Helping Seniors Deal with Winter's Seasonal Depression

Seniors may find themselves noticing they can't seem to get into the holiday spirit. This may be a good time to adjust expectations and allow negative feelings to exist.

Older adults may not feel so excited about winter holidays as they used to. It can be caused by a number of things but can be dealt with as part of the range of normal feelings.

Progress can come from accepting the negative feelings as well as taking proactive steps to get through the season.

Possible Causes of Holiday Blues Among Older Adults

It can be as simple as financial and social pressures or as complex as a lingering loneliness or grief, which is intensified by all the talk about family closeness and love.

When individuals have lost family members or friends the sadness is often intensified during this time of year.

There is also reason to believe the decreased exposure to light adds to the mix due to shorter days and the tendency to stay inside during the winter.

At times it is a combination of Christmas holiday stress and seasonal affective disorder commonly referred to as SAD, where less light and winter blues can coincide with the holiday season.

In addition, many seniors' diet often contains excessive sugar and carbs, thus contributing to holiday weight gain as well as holiday blues.

Although older women are more at risk, anyone can experience a light case of holiday blues or even full-blown depression.

Increased and unrealistic expectations, whether they are self-imposed or absorbed from the constant pressure from the media barrage, only add to the madness.

Strategies to Help Seniors Get Through the Season

We each have our own culture and religious traditions, but no matter what you celebrate, there will be more social events than usual.

Fortunately, there are practical methods to help older people face each day more positively during the holiday seasons.

One way to rewire a person's thinking is to remind herself that "It isn't about me." Look at each holiday stress and ask what it is about. Often this cognitive path helps a senior discover what is really important – whether it be a holiday gathering or a challenging day.

In addition, seniors can stop to remember that Christmas doesn't have to be about commercialism.

  • Keep a schedule. Write a routine down. Since there's so much emotion in the air, choose not to act on winter depression only, but rather go by a schedule. Make it loose enough for extra activities, yet structured enough to give the day some shape. For example, set a time for meals.
  • Do some physical activity in the morning. Read or watch a movie after lunch.
  • Email or call at least one person, or socialize on Facebook or similar social networking media. Sometimes just a short chat can provide holiday relief.
  • Consider walking outside, at a local mall, or another place with sights to see; enjoy nature or just go people watching.
  • Have a cup of tea or coffee at a certain time each day.
  • Take a shower and dress warmly.
  • Open the shades, blinds or curtains. Sunlight has often been shown to be helpful in relieving seasonal affective depression. Some people even use seasonal affective disorder light therapy.

Tips for Seniors Surviving Seasonal Depression

Try using some of the following tips to beat the blues:

  • Take a daily walk. This gives something to do that will get an older person up and going, and it's good for the body as well as for reducing seasonal depression.
  • Find TV programs or music to enjoy.
  • Tend a garden or even a plant.
  • Sit on the porch or in the yard, soaking up the daylight and fresh air.
  • Get to know neighbors. Talk briefly with them, but don't be offended when they have their own things to do. Short visits do both the senior and the neighbor good.
  • Go to a park and feed the duck or just enjoy nature there.
  • Smile even if no one is looking. In fact, force a smile upon awakening. It can become a habit.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a doctor or counselor.

Older Adults Can Have a Stress-Free Holiday

There are self-care methods for seniors to help themselves survive the depression and holiday stress. If a senior or boomer has no place to go, attend a church or community holiday meal.

Look in the paper for activities in the community. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry. Go buy just part of the week's food to be sure and have additional personal interaction.

It is OK to get away from the frenzy of activity. Sometimes older adults have simply had enough of the holiday madness.

For whatever reason, be it finances, family or other stresses, it can be helpful to live like it's not holiday season for a day or so. Read a book. Listen to favorite non-holiday music. Watch a movie or two.

After a day or so of respite, there may be enjoyment, or at least more comfortable tolerance of much of the holiday's hustle and bustle.

A rest away from it can help seniors be empowered to design the holiday they desire.

And when you are ready, Papa can pitch in and help with errands, transportation, or companionship, which can mean so much this time of year.


alzheimer ribbon

Be Proactive for Awareness of Alzheimer’s

Due to the amazing growth of Boomers and number of patients with Alzheimer’s (AD), it has become even more important for both the medical professionals and families to be aware of the need for screening for this debilitating disease.

Some barriers, which may cause a delay in addressing symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s, include fear of getting involved, denial and avoidance of an unknown diagnosis, and simple lack of public awareness.

Doing the Numbers on Alzheimer’s

Over ninety percent of identified Alzheimer’s Disease patients are age 65 and older with late-onset AD. From that age, the risk doubles every five years.

One in eight are diagnosed at age 65 and it progresses to 1 in 2 at age 85!

In addition, the 85+ age group is the fastest growing – making the need to be proactive quite evident.

The others are early-onset patients, often genetic (meaning that 50% of their offspring will get it).

Symptoms surfaced any time from the 40s to the 60s, although it was present before it was medically recognized.

Reasons Seniors See a Doctor for Screening or Diagnosis

  • To receive proper treatment and medications
  • Safety (medicines, driving, and diet) issues
  • Family member observing something different
  • Patient repeating the same story over and over
  • Less often, one spouse brings the other in (but often the spouse gets used to changes little by little, thus not realizing how much memory issues have worsened)
  • Sometimes patient comes on his or her own self-awareness of cognitive changes
  • In response to a crisis

Yearly screening from age 65 on can be helpful in detecting changes in functioning.

Sometimes a patient is asked to remember three words, draw a clock, etc. in screening.

Seeing a medical professional can get a patient on the way to defining and addressing the problems along with researching the reasons via a proper diagnosis.

Medical professionals can address concerns of safety, finances, therapy, treatment, medications, and caregivers.

Why Older Adults with Alzheimer’s May Need Treatment

As mentioned above, the main reason is safety, of themselves and others in society (accidentally starting fires, driving hazards, etc.)

Everyday life activities involving cooking, use of tools, problems with finances, getting lost are issues, which need attention.

Even delusions and hallucinations may occur later. Treatment offers an opportunity to save thousands by delaying nursing home placement.

Early diagnosis allows for more effective treatment in order to slow the progression, stay connected to the family longer, improve or stabilize behavior which is the main reason for referral to nursing homes, and give more relief to symptoms.

Such early diagnosis and treatment also provide time to plan for the future. The sooner problems are addressed, the better off the patient and the family will be.

Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Normal Aging

Normal seniors may have memory issues. For AD patients, their issues involve problem-solving, executive functioning, judgment, and words that just don’t come.

For normal older adults, a word may not come at first, but then it appears “from the tip of the tongue” whereas Alzheimer’s patients never find the proper word, especially names.

Another litmus test is that normal people may have a memory problem (due to normal aging, chemo, stroke, etc.), which stays static or shows some improvement, whereas Alzheimer’s patients become progressively worse.

Need for Research in Field of Memory and Alzheimer’s

There is a vital need for further research, both for treatment options and prevention.

As the at-risk population will rise sharply in the next few years, some are opting to participate in clinical research studies.

To do so, they must have a caregiver and informed permission from both patient and caregiver. Such research may be crucial to the increasing numbers of older adults.

Today is a good day to consider the Biblical wisdom to “Honor your mother and father” by acting on your own doubts and/or concerns out of your love for them.

Instead of a parent, it may be a spouse, friend, or neighbor who needs your input to help them seek regular screening or medical help for memory and other related issues.

Since we often spend time with family members more on the holidays, that’s a fine time to observe whether more attention may be needed.

During the testing phase and after, go to Papa and discover how much help a spare college student can be for companionship, errands, or tasks around the house.

It’s never too late to be proactive about cognitive loss such as Alzheimer’s.

The Papa Team Walking to fight Alzheimer's Disease