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Looking for the Silver Linings Amidst a Pandemic

Looking for the Silver Linings Amidst a Pandemic

Record unemployment rates related to COVID-19 business closures have hurt business owners and their workers, many of whom are 50 years and older. Though workers of all ages have felt the effects of unemployment or reduced working hours, older workers will fare worse upon re-entering the workforce. Research shows the recession of 2008 found that those adults age 62 or more were the least likely group to re-enter the workforce, and it is most likely as the employment situation stabilizes the same will hold in 2020. Ageism plays a role when employers have huge swaths of potential employees from which to choose. 

Many unemployed older workers feel the effects of income loss and wild financial market swings wreaking havoc on their retirement savings accounts, as well as the potential that Social Security benefits may be reduced in the near future. Happily, before the pandemic, a trend towards later retirement, transitional work, and “encore” careers became the norm. Out of either necessity or desire, aging Americans choose to be active in the workforce, and policies and practices are starting to catch up to age discrimination. AARP has more than 350 companies who have signed an Employer Pledge that sources experienced workers. These companies provide job opportunities and career fairs online that are age-diverse.

Sheltering in place during this pandemic has kept many older Americans from having pre-existing physical, social, and emotional needs met as healthcare systems and network services for seniors are minimizing service to large numbers to protect and serve the most vulnerable.  This disruption of services like regular check-ups and elective procedures leads to a lack of personal care, proper nutrition, and medical management for many. Telehealth can remotely connect a patient to a medical professional, and with wearable devices, important medical information can be assessed in real-time by a doctor. If the situation warrants, medical intervention will follow. In the case of nutrition, beyond take-out and meal delivery services, grocery stores are now providing home delivery systems for fresh food. These delivery services include Instacart, Walmart Grocery, Safeway Grocery Delivery, Kroger ClickList, Vitacost, Peapod, AmazonFresh, and more.

The effects of increased isolation are producing more anxiety and depression in aging Americans. Loneliness is linked to negative mental and physical health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cognitive decline, obesity, and death. The good news is that we live in a digital age where the Internet of Things (IoT) can connect people virtually. There is a steady growth of tech-savvy seniors who are well-versed in the use of digital devices and apps that let them talk real-time to family and friends. Family and inter-generational connections are stronger than ever since this pandemic has encouraged everyone to stay in touch. Programs like Students4Seniors and ZoomerstoBoomers are examples of younger generations lending a helping hand to seniors. Digital social connection is combating the negative consequences of isolationism.

Before the coronavirus, only about one half of Americans have had conversations about their end of life situation with loved ones. Only 27 percent of those have the legal documentation reflecting their wishes. The need to address mortality is uncomfortable but unavoidable for older Americans during this pandemic as they are disproportionately dying from COVID-19. There are general and specific pandemic-related end-of-life planning resources online that can help a senior think through scenarios before meeting with their attorney. Most law groups and individual attorneys are now set up to teleconference or video conference to create advance directives and associated legal documents. Many states are permitting online signature for these documents during the pandemic.

For every negative consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, there are solutions that drive positive outcomes, especially in the case of seniors. Efforts that improve the services of private and non-profit agencies, advocacy groups and policymaking, healthcare and business models are accelerating to meet the needs of our most vulnerable population. Technology, creativity, and sensitivity to senior needs are making life a better experience during a difficult time not only for seniors but also for the families and providers meeting those needs that create a stronger, more interconnected America that values its elders.  If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

The Top Ten Myths About Risks for Alzheimer’s Disease

The Top Ten Myths About Risks for Alzheimer’s Disease

Polling shows that the number one worry for Americans as they age is memory loss, outpacing fears of insufficient monies, and loneliness. The most prevalent among all dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures Report, Alzheimer’s accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of diagnosed dementia cases. Projections for increasing numbers of Alzheimer’s patients in the coming decades is cause for concern. However, in this digital age where disinformation is in abundance, Right At Home has identified ten persistent myths about Alzheimer’s that should be dispelled for clarity’s sake and because worry increases stress levels, which is bad for the brain.

Myth #1: If I live long enough, I will likely develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The fact is that developing dementia is not a natural function of aging. While there are more diagnosed cases than ever before, and risks increase as we age, it is not inevitable that age equals Alzheimer’s. A University of Michigan poll of people in their 50s and 60s found half the respondents expect to develop serious cognitive and memory loss as they age. The statistics show only twenty percent of older adults will experience dementia.

Myth #2: If I have a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease, I can do nothing to prevent getting it.

It is a fact that a higher risk for dementia does run in some families. However, research data presented at the July 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggest that even those with a higher genetic propensity to develop Alzheimer’s can lower their risk by adopting lifestyle choices that address brain health.Actionable lifestyle choices decreased dementia risks by 32 percent. A study of identical triplets from the University of Toronto (December 2019) revealed while two contracted dementia, the third did not. While there are no guarantees, there are preventable strategies.

Myth #3: If I already have amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in my brain, I will soon experience Alzheimer’s disease.

Today’s medical technologies like PET scans and other brain imagining techniques show that some people have these plaques and tangles but display no obvious outward disease symptoms. The brain is highly resilient and plastic, creating workarounds or backup connections that bypass the affected brain cells. 

Myth #4: Specifically engineered brain games will provide the mental exercise I need to protect against dementia.

Neurologically focused computer games, puzzles, and similar brain “training” products are somewhat useful. Still, they do not provide a greater benefit than other mind-challenging activities. You are just as well off learning a new language, taking an art class, reading, playing video games, traveling, or even working at a mentally stimulating job. These activities help the brain build new connections; in particular, learning something new is especially beneficial.

Myth #5: All I need is solitary brain exercise.

The fact is that while engaging in intense mental focus is great, interacting with other people is more beneficial. Socialization stimulates many more regions of the brain, and those who regularly engage in social activity consistently have a lower incidence of dementia. Staying connected, even virtually in this age of social distancing, also prevents becoming part of the epidemic of loneliness, which leads to many negative health consequences. There are many reasons to stay socially engaged. 

Myth #6: Skipping physical exercise is permissible as long as I get mental exercise.

It is a fact that brain stimulation matters, but it is also a fact that exercising our muscles is as important for brain health because the two work together. Physical movement requires brain and muscle memory. Whether you move about a park or a gym, you need to know where to go. You also must know what to do, how to complete each task, and move to the next. In this multi-tasking body/brain exercise work, each function enhances the other—muscles matter.

Myth #7: Only aerobic exercise benefits the brain.

Muscle-strengthening activities are as important as aerobic exercise. It is true that having an aerobically fit heart is good for a healthy brain but lifting weights, doing squats, planks, pushups, and working with resistance bands are all known to boost memory. In some instances, strength training can even reverse memory loss because building muscle makes us overall healthier, and it also increases several beneficial chemicals in the brain.

Myth #8: I can take supplements to protect my brain health.

The fact is you are better off eating a diet that includes lots of quality vegetables and fruits, grains, poultry and fish, and healthy fats like olive oil. America is overrun with vitamins, herbs, and promises of brain health substances. The World Health Organization has recently stated no reputable study confirms the value of these vitamins, herbs, or supplements. Save your money and talk to your doctor about a healthy diet instead.

Myth #9: Drinking alcohol protects my brain.

The fact is experts do not agree about the studies associated with moderate drinking, in particular red wine, with brain health. However, the experts all do agree that drinking too much is very harmful to the brain. Heavy drinking shrinks the brain. The Lancet Public Health Journey states that “alcohol disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for all types of dementia.” As part of your diet plan, talk to your doctor about a safe amount of alcohol for you. 

Myth #10: Alzheimer’s disease is not related to other health conditions.

No disease is unrelated to other health conditions in our bodies. Many chronic conditions and diseases can harm our brains like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, stress, insomnia, hearing and vision loss, and even gum disease raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. Regular healthcare that manages existing conditions can also lower the risk of memory loss or slow its progression. Routine medical appointments, taking medications as prescribed, and following doctor recommendations can help to preserve brain health.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, now is the time to plan. We can help create a comprehensive legal plan to address how to pay for care without losing everything you’ve saved over the years. We would be happy to talk to you about ways we can help.  Just give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

Developing an Effective COVID-19 Vaccine for the Elderly is a Challenge

Developing an Effective COVID-19 Vaccine for the Elderly is a Challenge

Older Americans, the most at risk of COVID-19, are the least likely demographic to respond well to a vaccine. A vaccine shot works by fooling the body into believing it has been infected with a virus, thereby prompting its immune system to fight the intruding pathogen by making antibodies. Unfortunately, as we age, antibody production weakens, part of the process known as immunosenescence. A compromised immune system makes older adults more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. The Wall Street Journal reports that 90 percent of flu deaths in the US every year are people over the age of 65. 

What’s age got to do with it? The thymus, located center of your chest just below the neckline between the lungs, is a major source of pathogen fighting T-cells. Some of these specialized cells help the immune system make additional defenses against infection called antibodies. As we age, the thymus production of adaptable T-cells is depleted as the thymus fills with fatty tissue. The result is an old immune system that is ill-equipped to fight off new viruses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a July 17 analysis of more than 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US, identifying that 80 percent were people age 65 or more.

An aging thymus also complicates the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. A vaccine’s design provides instructions to our immune system, which T-cells help to guide appropriately. However, the thymus has exhausted most of its reserve T-cells that adapt to recognize unknown pathogens by the age of 50; thus, the ability to “train” other immune cells to fight is lost. Many vaccines rely on the skill sets of fully functional T-cells.

Traditionally, the biopharmaceutical vaccine market has concentrated efforts on childhood vaccines. Martin Friede, a coordinator for vaccine and product and delivery research with the World Health Organization (WHO), states, “Up until very recently most of the focus of the vaccine community has been on saving lives of young children. The people who need the vaccine the most may actually be the people in whom the vaccine might not work.” Friede further comments that it isn’t solely about the thymus as individual vitality can translate into different vaccine responses. Some older people may be off to play a round of golf while others may be too frail to walk unaided.

Deputy director of clinical research for the Institute of Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Kawsar Talaat, echoes Friede’s sentiments, “We hadn’t been designing vaccines for the elderly for a long time.” Dr. Talaat is helping to facilitate coronavirus vaccine developers to test their shots in older adults. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also working with drug and biotech companies easing restrictions for experimental vaccines to be tested earlier during clinical trials on older adults. 

The New York biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer is currently conducting tests for potential COVID-19 vaccines in older people. The company is studying whether increasing the vaccine dosage could better protect the elderly as higher doses in existing flu vaccines make them more effective in older populations. At Moderna Therapeutics, results from a phase-one trial of its novel mRNA vaccine are in; however, a second phase two trial is being conducted specifically for adults age 55 and older. Several phase three trials have also already begun.  Many biotech and pharmaceutical companies are eager to be the first to introduce a successful FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine. 

If the development of a COVID-19 vaccine specifically for the elderly remains elusive, scientists are hopeful that immunizing others around them can make a difference. Vaccinating children, health care workers, and potentially silent coronavirus carriers, could create enough herd immunity and would lower the risk of older people becoming infected. Sometimes it is possible to protect a vulnerable group by targeting other groups around them. Meanwhile, the work continues to find a workable COVID-19 vaccine for the most vulnerable Americans, the elderly.

We help seniors and their families deal with challenges around appropriate care and how to pay for it. If you would like to discuss your situation with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  Simply give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

Living Alone in Your 50s and 60s Increases Your Risk of Dementia by 30 Percent

Living Alone in Your 50s and 60s Increases Your Risk of Dementia by 30 Percent

Living arrangements for aging Americans are decidedly leaning towards aging in place. Nearly all older adults prefer to age in the comfort of their long time homes and familiar community surroundings. Aging in place often means living alone. Pew Research findings show that older people are more likely to live alone in the United States than in any other country worldwide. This preference of living solo, however, comes with hidden danger. Research from Science Times reports that living alone in your fifties and sixties increases the likelihood of dementia by thirty percent.

The conclusion drawn is based on a report from sciencedirect.com, a website replete with large databases of scientific, academic, and medical research. Findings indicate that social isolation is a more important risk factor for dementia than previously identified. In this age of gray divorce (also grey divorce) and social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, adults living alone in their fifties, sixties and beyond, are at greater risk than ever for cognitive decline, leading to dementia.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Roopal Desai, says that overall increases in dementia cases worldwide can be due to loneliness, stress, and the lack of cognitive stimulation that living alone brings. Biologically, cognitive stimulation is necessary to maintain neural connections, which in turn healthily keep a brain functioning. Staying socially interactive is as important to cognitive health as staying physically and mentally active. 

Health care professionals in the U.S. are implementing a “social prescribing” strategy to improve the connection of a patient who lives alone to a prescribed range of services like community groups, personal training, art classes, counseling, and more. Unfortunately, in the days of COVID-19 social prescribing is limited to virtual connections between people. However, virtual social engagement is better than no social engagement at all.

Why can’t an adult, choosing to age alone, maintain their health with physical exercise, crossword puzzles, and other activities that stimulate their brains without the input of human socialization? It turns out that social isolation presents a greater risk for dementia than physical inactivity, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Brain stimulation is vastly different when a person engages in a conversation rather than in repetitive games and puzzles. Carrying on a conversation, whether in person or virtually, is far more stimulating and challenging to the brain’s regions.

Conversation with other people chemically evokes neurotransmitters and hormones, which translates into increased feelings of happiness and reduced stress through purpose, belonging, improved self-worth, and confidence. It turns out that being human is undeniably an experience at its most healthy when shared, and a mentally healthy person is prone to stay more cognitively capable.

Maintaining this human connection can be challenging, particularly if you are one of the many Americans who are opting to age in place – especially in this era of Covid-19. In the first place, aging is replete with reasons to reduce activity and become isolated when facing particular types of stressful events common to later life years. Role changes associated with spousal bereavement through death or divorce, household management, social planning, driving, and flexibility all fall prey to functional and cognitive limitations. Without the benefit of an involved family or social prescription, it is easy for an aging adult to spiral into social isolation, loneliness, and depression, all of which are causally linked to cognitive decline.

If you or your aging loved one actively chooses to live alone, it is imperative to maintain a vibrant social life. Staying cognitively healthy is associated to satisfying social engagement as well as physical activity. If you live alone, reducing the risk of developing dementia will allow you to continue living out your years as imagined, with independence and control, thanks to your continued human interactions.

If you have concerns about your current living arrangements (or those of a loved one who needs care), please reach out. We help families create comprehensive legal plans that cover care and financial concerns. We’d be honored to speak with you.  Simply give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.  Stay healthy.   Stay safe.

Technologies to Help Seniors Stay Emotionally Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Technologies to Help Seniors Stay Emotionally Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

In the best of circumstances, adults in senior living communities and long-term care facilities combat loneliness and some degree of isolation, which is linked to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and other ailments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) senior facility guidelines have increased problems of isolation for the more than one million American adults who live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. These seniors and those in private homes who are sheltering-in-place are experiencing the absence of direct connection to family and friends. Today it is more important than ever to provide mechanisms for their health and happiness while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus quarantine.

For those in long-term care facilities, now that visitation has ceased, the only human contact is with the facility staff and doctors who present themselves wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, and gloves. The minimal contact is with staff that no longer looks familiar and may even appear scary to residents, particularly those with cognitive impairment. Social distancing practices and wearing masks in a loved one’s home have a similar effect and create frustration as cherished hugs are not permissible. The longer the threat of infection from COVID-19 goes on, the more likely that loneliness will become a mental health problem. Intelligent and creative use of technology can alleviate the stresses for many of these seniors by providing entertainment and communication.

Most seniors prefer structure and reliability, so coordinate daily check-in times with your loved one. It can be as simple as a phone call or text. For seniors who are comfortable with more advanced technology, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, WeChat, Loop, and Zoom all provide video content as well as voice. Don’t forget the option of a group text to include multiple family and friends at the same time, and if you are using Facetime or Zoom, you can create a “family dinner” experience. Even the cooking aspect of the meal can be integrated into the video chat.

Wellness devices that track exercise like Apple watch, Garmin, Kardia, or Fitbit are great prompters for seniors to keep moving and exercise. These devices can be set for modest 10-minute group exercises, which are important to keep blood flowing, stimulate brain function, improve the immune system, and reduce depression. Activity level notifications can be sent to your phone, providing the opportunity to nudge your loved one out of sedentary behavior. During quieter moments, a carefree companion pet like Hasbro’s Joy for All Companion Pet can bring fun, companionship, and comfort for your loved one. These may be robots, but they are soft and cuddly with realistic fur and respond to petting and hugging motions creating a give and take relationship. If your senior prefers a dog, Joyforall has a companion pet golden pup that can also bring comfort. These robotic pets offer a soothing and joyful experience that often prompts fond memories of a senior’s beloved pet.

Hapbee is available for pre-order and is an augmentative wearable device emulating normal molecular interactions in the body’s small, specific magnetic fields that can replicate different feelings. There are six general mood categories; alert, happy, pick me up, calm, relaxed, and sleepy through safe, low energy magnetic signals. Worn as either a headband or loosely around the neck, a senior can use Hapbee to guide their feelings to their desire. Another technology that can help during this pandemic is the HumanCharger light therapy device made by Valkee. This device is a powerful tool for those people over the age of 60 experiencing lack of sunshine, melatonin production, reduced energy levels, and difficulty getting restful sleep. The HumanCharger stimulates the photosensitive receptors in the brain using calibrated white light. This light passes through the ear canals and structure, and this stimulation affects the brain’s neural circuits via neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. In just 12 minutes a day using the Valkee device and LED earbuds, a senior can experience the needed dosage of sunlight to re-establish the body’s natural circadian rhythms by resetting a person’s natural internal clock.

Finally, do not overlook the world of online gaming to keep a senior engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Word Cross, Candy Crush, Words with Friends, Cookie Jam, Minecraft, and more can provide hours of entertainment. If your senior is a retired pilot, try a flight simulator, or if they prefer chess, they can play against a computer or individuals worldwide. Your loved one can watch favorite TV shows, movies, or keep up with family and friends via Facebook. Video games and computer use, in general, promote hand-eye coordination, mind training, and memory, and raise endorphin levels that keep blood flowing. While your senior is engaging in the online world, however, be sure they do not fall prey to a self-destructive behavior known as “doomscrolling.” The onslaught of dystopian stories relating to the coronavirus pandemic combined with stay at home orders can find a senior binging on bad news, trapping them in cycles of negativity. So, in your daily check-in, ask where your senior is spending their time online to ensure they don’t spiral into a vicious cycle of negativity which creates anxiety and depression.

Encourage your senior loved one to employ technology to help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Many seniors are unaware of just how varied and robust online entertainment and personal technology has become. All these technologies can help a senior maintain emotional balance and wellness during this pandemic and beyond.

If you would like to discuss how we help families deal with issues relating to long term care, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Family Caregiving During the Coronavirus

Family Caregiving During the Coronavirus

There are new challenges to meet for family systems with loved ones who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus yet still require caregiving. Family caregivers that use to aid their family directly, now find themselves learning how to be long-distance providers during this pandemic. US News reports that before the coronavirus, thirteen percent of Americans provided long-distance care. The new reality is that all family caregivers must employ protocols that maintain social distancing to protect their loved ones.

The best way to stay close from far away with ease is to employ technology in your parent’s home, making wellness checks, or using camera monitoring if they are particularly frail. Many homes are already fully alarmed with cameras and motion detectors inside and out. Sharing access codes will allow a family caregiver to visually check-in and ensure all is well. As access codes can be changed, a parent can know if the future permits, they can reassert their independence by simply changing their code. Camera systems are an incredibly valuable tool in the event you cannot reach your parent by phone.  

In the absence of cameras previously installed in the care recipient’s home, solutions such as Briocare or LifePod remotely address a senior’s quality of life. Both of these solutions meet the needs of self-care, independence, and safety while allowing access to you, the remote caregiver. Briocare employs Amazon’s virtual assistant technology (smart speaker) by overlaying their mobile application (app) with customized care subgroups like dementia care, diabetes care, hypertension care, and general wellness. 

Daily routines can be set, including medication reminders, family calls, emergency calls and alerts, medical device integration, and entertainment activities. Similarly, LifePod uses the capabilities of smart speakers for family caregivers to configure reminders and remotely check in with their loved ones. Telemedicine interactions with their physicians are also possible using a smart speaker. A remote appointment can provide much-needed assurance, prescription dosage changes, or determination that, despite the pandemic, medical intervention is required. Smart speaker voice-activated technology that is appropriately configured to meet your parent’s specific needs is a lifeline between remote family caregivers and their loved ones. 

Beyond organizing daily activities, medical needs, and monitoring the safety of your at-home senior, there are other essential needs to address like food and finances. Restaurant food delivery services are readily available in all but the most rural of locations to provide prepared meals to your senior’s doorstep. Restaurants must meet strict guidelines for food preparation and handling to ensure safety during the coronavirus. Meanwhile, at the grocery store, personal shopping assistants can gather all the food and pharmacy needs on your list for delivery to your parent’s home. 

Check with the local stores your parent prefers for instructions on how to get home delivery or check out Instacart, an online food shopping service provider, that in some areas can deliver groceries in as little as an hour. Fully one-third of family caregivers are now millennials who have a comfort level leveraging technology to simplify caregiving to their family. If you are a baby boomer and are unsure about using these online food services, enlist the help of your children or a trusted friend who is comfortable with technology. 

An Amazon Prime account can send packaged food goods and even connect a user to Whole Foods Market for fresh meat, fish, and produce shopping. Tips on how to save money and expeditiously choose and use food products are outlined on these sites. Read through the information provided on the website as a little planning goes a long way to purchasing efficiency and proper nutrition for your care recipient.

To ensure your parent’s finances are in good order, again turn to technology. During this pandemic, many older people are rightly experiencing a lot of fear as they are primary targets of the new scams associated with the coronavirus. Even if you have never checked on your parent’s finances before, now is an excellent time to have a look. Check for unusual activity in credit card balances or credit score data. Seniors tend to accumulate many and varied account types such as investment accounts, credit and debit card accounts, business entities, real estate, and more. If you feel out of your depth in overseeing their finances, implement some online financial services.

Individualized shared platforms like EverSafe and Onist monitor all types of financial accounts and provide simple tools that let you organize, analyze, and track your loved one’s finances all in one place. Each program is customizable to grant access to family members and even financial professionals if managing monies is not your expertise. Artificial intelligence tools are designed for oversite, identifying account anomalies like unusual withdrawals, missing deposits, changes in spending habits, and will provide suspicious activity alerts to your email, text, or phone. Look for platforms with highly secure 2048-bit encryption to ensure online security.

There are many practical considerations to address when caregiving remotely for your family loved one, but using technology can solve most of them quite easily. While nothing can replace human contact, the basics of care for your parent are within reach because of the digital age. 

We help families who are caring for aging parents. If you have questions or would like to discuss your family situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.  Stay safe.

Isolation Due to COVID-19 May Increase the Risk of Elder Abuse

Isolation Due to COVID-19 May Increase the Risk of Elder Abuse

As some of the most vulnerable Americans to the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults are staying at home to lower their risk of infection as the coronavirus spreads throughout communities. The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that an unfortunate outgrowth from this isolation is an increase in risk factors for elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Senior adults facing self-imposed or long-term care facility lockdown need to follow health and safety guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline to protect themselves. Also, if you have a senior family member, you need to understand the guidelines set forth for the protection of your loved one. 

Socially isolated seniors can become increasingly lonely, despondent, and feel abandoned, which is a medical problem in its own right as it leads to depression, weight loss, and sometimes self-harm or disruptive behavior. Remote monitoring and online social interaction during the coronavirus pandemic are the few ways to stay actively “in touch.” Yet, it provides limited visibility to the full scope of the problems your senior may be facing. 

Essential services like Adult Protective Services (APS) will continue receiving and investigating reports of neglect, abuse, and exploitation. APS is a distributed system approach, typically handled via local or state health, aging, and regulatory departments. Abuse occurs in such variation, and as such, there is no generic template to employ as a solution, thus the multidisciplinary approach to providing aid and support to older adults. Information as to where to report problems in each state is online at the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA).

Be aware that because of social distancing protocols, some APS programs are temporarily modifying how the work. In situations when it is reasonable to do so, the first contact will be made by phone rather than in person. Some programs may extend the time frame for the first contact to meet staffing challenges unless the report indicates there is an imminent threat to safety or health. If this is your circumstance, be specific in reporting that your situation is dire.

It is a sad fact that often adults who are vulnerable to abuse are isolating with their abusers. Wellness phone calls and video check-ins should occur frequently and at varying times to identify if your loved one is experiencing neglect, exploitation, or abuse. Tips on specific questions to ask that raise red flags, or signs of abuse are online at the American Bar Association (ABA) website. Recognize that not all abuse is emotional or physical. Financial exploitation is a rampant problem among the elderly, so extra diligence is required in reviewing your loved one’s finances. Remind your senior that while it is natural to want to help family and friends experiencing financial problems, they must first take care of themselves. 

Caregivers are human beings too, and many experience fears of contracting COVID-19 while caring for the vulnerable elderly population. Some have found the financial rewards of unemployment more beneficial than work as it allows them to remain at home in isolation with their own family. Caregivers are supposed to call for backup if they are unable to meet the needs of their care recipient. Community resources are stretched thin during COVID-19, so if you have a loved one who requires caregiving, be sure to have a reliable worker or have multiple backup plans.

It is reasonable to assume that all local services for seniors are overwhelmed trying to meet their needs and that self-neglect may stem from a senior who cannot get the services provided that they require and give up trying. These services include the basics of life, like needed medical supplies and groceries. Check if your loved one is receiving the medications and meals they require to keep them healthy. 

Scams are an unfortunate yet inevitable byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic. Remind your senior never to provide information on health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or financial information to anyone with whom they did not generate contact. Remind them that the IRS’s first point of contact with Americans is always via postal mail. Contact the United States Department of Justice at their website if you suspect a scammer is targeting you or your loved one.

Asymptomatically, or purposefully exposing a vulnerable older adult to the coronavirus can result in serious illness or death. Make sure you keep your senior’s circle of contact extremely limited and be aware of the individuals who provide their care and talk to them often about the protocols they follow to ensure your loved one’s health. Vigilance about the health of your senior and their caregiver is essential to lower the risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way Americans interact, and it puts extra stress on our most vulnerable population, the elderly. Protocols of isolation are useful to limit the spread of the coronavirus but also increase the risk of elderly abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Be an advocate and protective force for your loved one by raising your awareness of how this pandemic increases their risks. 

If you have questions or would like to talk about planning opportunities to protect you or a loved one from financial abuse, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Should You Remove Your Loved One From a Nursing Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Should You Remove Your Loved One From a Nursing Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Uncertainty can breed fear, particularly when it comes to caring options for a loved one currently in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the questions like how long this health crisis will last and will there be secondary, or even more waves of infection, give pause to those with loved ones in these vulnerable nursing home environments. Whether it is your mother, father, or spouse, you are considering moving; there is no right or wrong answer, only choices because all decisions come from a place of love. It is never wrong to try to help those you love to be better protected. Here are some things to consider about changing your loved one’s residence during this pandemic.

The truth is that bringing a cherished family member home is a complicated decision because it is both emotional and fraught with unknown consequences that have real-life ramifications about life and death. If you were to move your spouse or parent home, are you and is your home environment suited to caring for them? If they are on Medicaid, will they allow your loved one to be released and then reinstated in the future? Will there be room in the facility at the time when they need to return? Does your community provide services that can help you provide care? Does the job that you would do at home meet the same level of care as professionals in a nursing home? Will there be a lapse in medications or other necessities during the transition phase?

Before making plans to remove your spouse or parent from a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) suggests you ask yourself these questions to help you make a sound decision based on your loved one’s wellbeing. 

  • What are the benefits versus the risks of moving your loved one out of the facility?
  • What does your spouse or parent want?
  • Can you meet the caregiving needs of your loved one in your home environment? (this includes any specialized medical care, medication management, meals, bathroom and hygiene assistance, and time to engage your loved one in activities)
  • In bringing them to your home, are they still at risk of COVID-19 exposure?
  • How will you prioritize care if someone in your home becomes infected?
  • Can you currently do window or virtual visits with your loved one in the nursing home to decrease the problems associated with social isolation?
  • Will the facility readmit your spouse or parent if you change your mind?
  • Are there still valid reasons for having your loved one in a long-term care facility?
  • Does their current living facility have adequate staff and procedures to handle the issues associated with this pandemic?
  • Will your caregiving in the home match that of the professionals in a nursing home?
  • Do you have the time to dedicate to your loved one’s proper care?

Answering these questions should reveal whether you are leading with your heart or your head while considering moving your loved one out of their current care facility.

AARP’s position on moving your loved one into your home during the COVID-19 pandemic is in agreement with the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports there is no one size fits all solution to this question, and each family must pursue their decisions based on recommendations from their health care providers and their unique circumstances. 

Before discussing the option of moving your parent or spouse out of a nursing home, it is advisable to pose these questions with in-home family members as well as your loved one’s health care providers. In times of uncertainty, it is best to logically think through at home living scenarios both short and long term, as well as review the variety of steps the CDC has put in place for long term care facilities with regards to protecting residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The caregiving your loved one needs will be the best for them if you take the time to make an informed decision.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your particular situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Helping Seniors Avoid Loneliness While Maintaining Social Distance

Helping Seniors Avoid Loneliness While Maintaining Social Distance

The medically recommended protocols for social distancing and government mandates that restrict large gatherings of Americans to slow the spread of the coronavirus are minimizing our abilities to interact with each other. This isolation holds especially true for those seniors who live alone or in long term health care facilities. Human beings are, by nature, designed for close contact and social interaction. Maintaining human connection, whether it be family or casual acquaintances, can help boost immunity, combat anxiety and stress, and can even lower health risks that are exacerbated by stress like heart attacks and hypertension.  

The Association of Health Care Journalists reports that it is critical for older adults’ wellbeing to maintain social ties. Those seniors who experience loneliness and social isolation are more likely to develop dementia, more likely to fall, have an increase in hospital readmissions, and an increase in mortality. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care facilities and hospitals across the country have put a pause on in-person visitation. This separation will protect the most vulnerable populations, such as older adults and those individuals with chronic health conditions.

To help your loved ones in a facility or living on their own during this challenging time of COVID-19 Right at Home, a leader in the in-home senior care industry, has some ideas to stay connected to those you love who are isolated during this outbreak. 

  • Set up phone dates. Scheduling a regular call at a prescribed time and date brings you closer through conversation and also gives a senior something to look forward to experiencing. Do not over-promise. It is better to have two calls a week that you always attend rather than to miss a promised chat session because you overscheduled your time. 
  • Write letters to each other. Getting postal mail is fun for all ages, especially when it is a letter, filled with memories of shared times. Include self-addressed stamped envelopes back and forth to encourage continuing the exchange. Lonely seniors will usually re-read these notes and treasure them.
  • Set up chatty technology. Whether it’s a tablet, home device, or smartphone, you can use your digital device to use apps like Facebook Messenger, Alexa, FaceTime, Skype, and more to videoconference with your senior. If your senior needs some technical help, most health care workers will be able to help get them started as you will not be permitted to be onsite.
  • Virtually watch movies together. If you and your senior have a desktop computer or laptop that uses the Chrome browser, Netflix Party will synchronize video playback and add group chat capability to your chosen show or movie. It’s like having a long-distance movie night or tv watching party.
  • Attend online events and activities. Participating online is a big deal when faced with isolation. There are thousands of people online who have similar interests as you. Meetup.com is a free membership group that has 24 separate categories, like dance, language, and culture, photography, family, tech, health and wellness, music, and more. All of these categories host multiple online events in which your senior can participate.
  • Attend virtual religious services. Faith is so important right now, especially for some seniors. If your loved one has a worship service they used to attend, see if they are now providing their services online. Many houses of worship have Facebook pages where a service is a click away. It will lift your senior’s spirits immensely to see and listen to their familiar pastor, rabbi, or priest.
  • Make use of the public library online. More than ever, libraries are offering their services for things like movies, e-books, and audiobooks.
  • Stay physically active. Log into a virtual exercise class online. Most of the classes are free, and they are found everywhere on YouTube. Just be sure to search for an exercise class that is appropriate for your age and physical abilities. As with any new exercise regime, always consult your doctor first.
  • Get outdoors, even for 5 minutes. If at all possible to do safely, step outside on the porch, patio, or balcony and encourage your loved one to do the same. Take in some sunshine and fresh air, take a deep breath and see the bigger picture of life.

Prolonged loneliness can bring about depression and even dementia. However, social distancing does not have to bring about social disconnection. Employ some of these ideas in the world of your senior to protect them from isolation during this pandemic. It is crucial to your loved one’s wellbeing to have direction and routine, hope, and human connection. 

We are also using video technology for our meetings so we can continue to help with planning needs of our community. If you have questions about what you read or would like to discuss planning for you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com. We would be honored to help.

Everyday Devices that can be Hacked

Everyday Devices That Can Be Hacked

The internet of things (IoT) is responsible for many conveniences via embedded electronic devices, and many seniors are making use of these technologies. It is becoming increasingly common for everyday items like refrigerators, thermostats, and doorbells to be internet-connected making our homes and personal information subject to hacking. A hacker will subvert computer security for malicious purposes. Seniors who employ IoT devices for safety and convenience may be less wary of all the ways their devices can be compromised. If you are a senior or have a loved one who is, it is imperative to have them, or a trusted friend, update software from device manufacturers and routinely monitor their devices. 

A Smart TV provides many hacking opportunities. The problem can be an annoying prankster blasting the volume control, switching channels, or even ordering movies you did not select. Or the hacker can also compromise your security and safety as your Smart TV is a gateway to other internet-connected devices in your home. TV apps can be data mined for credit card payment information since many manufacturers reuse default passwords, and users neglect to change them. Even companies who sell Smart TVs are now post-purchase monetizing the Smart TV by harvesting your information via data collection and using it for advertising and direct sales of entertainment to the consumer.

Digital Thermostats are a great way to keep heating and cooling costs down. However, a hacker who takes control of your thermostat can crank up the heat or cooling until the owner pays a ransom to regain control of the device. An older person can experience health consequences due to extremes temperatures as well as the anxiety and fear it breeds. Baby monitors are often connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network for the convenience of a mobile app to check the display at any time. Many homes use these monitors for seniors instead of small children. Typically, people do not change the default password on the monitor, meaning that it is visible to the network. A hacker can scan transmitting internet protocol or IP addresses (numerical labels assigned to every device that connects to a computer). Once they have your IP data, they can find the baby monitor and watch you or your loved one at any time. For better protection shop for baby monitors that are made to be invisible to scans. If you have a Samsungsmart refrigerator, it can be hacked. The wiring in the fridge leaves the new owner’s Google login credentials out in the wild for a hacker to grab and then infiltrate your home’s IoT devices.

Smart cameras have vulnerability issues allowing a hacker to remotely access audio and video feeds. Be sure to keep track of all of your IoT devices that are network connected. Actively seek out all software and firmware updates for maximum protection against hackers. Smart voice-activated speakers like Alexa, Google, Echo, and many more open up every conversation you have in your home to be monitored by a hacker. Without even being aware, you can divulge sensitive information like doctor appointments, luncheon dates, and upcoming trips. Even your bank account and credit card information can be compromised. If your home security system is connected to your voice-activated speaker, a hacker can turn it off and enter your home.

Even pacemakers are subject to hacking however improbable that might seem. Anyone with bad intentions toward you can remotely change the pace of your heartbeat, which can even result in your death. Implanted medical devices, in general, are now subject to more stringent controls that use code to secure data and instructions in these devices and monitor them in real-time. Talk with your medical professional to know that you are protected against medical hackers.

Default passwords need to change in order to protect your devices from hackers. Most internet-connected devices have simple default passwords, and a search run on the name brand of a device will often yield the manufacturer’s default password. When you change your password, make it very strong, and use unique passwords for each device. Out of convenience, many seniors will use the same password for everything. In this case, if a hacker gets into one device, they can be in all of them if you do not use different passwords.

Cell phones, home Wi-Fi routers, and even landline voicemail are susceptible to hacking. Inexpensive signal-proof cases are good to use for protection when you are out in public. It is possible for a hacker to clone your phone in seconds while standing next to you and they will get everything you store on your phone. Home Wi-Fi routers must be up to date on all software and firmware, and a unique, strong password can help protect you from hackers. Once a hacker gains access, all of your devices connected via the internet of things have been compromised as the router is the nerve center of your digital footprint. Many seniors still like to have a landline telephone and its associated voicemail. Passwords to access voicemail must be very secure, or a hacker can listen in to your conversations as well as delete potentially important messages.

All senior grandparents love pictures of their family to be proudly displayed. Picture frames that are digital and allow you to scroll through photos or change an art display with the swipe of a hand are vulnerable. If your frame becomes hacked, a thief can discern non-active times in your home by the frame’s ambient light sensors and can plan a robbery while you are away.  

Garage door openers are also able to be hacked if you have a newer smart version device. A hacker can monitor garage door activity and identify times when you are not at home. It is very convenient for a burglar to avoid encountering people during a robbery. Be sure to update a manufacturer’s default password setting to something difficult to break, and a would-be robber will move to an easier target.

Cars and Self-driving cars can be hacked. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to break into and start a vehicle, even disabling the alarm system. Car thieves now employ sophisticated hacking technology, especially when they must bypass the electronic anti-theft systems. If a self-driving car is hacked, the attacker can take direct control over the throttle, brake, and steering while remaining anonymous as to their identity and location creating a very dangerous scenario.

Convenience comes at a cost to your privacy when using the internet of things. Taking the necessary steps to protect your devices from hackers is of paramount importance. Once secure procedures are in place, it is crucial to monitor for suspicious activity that can lead to robbery, electronic banking theft, and more. Taking control of your internet-enabled devices is essential to protect your home and your strategy for aging successfully. No one wants to be victimized by unwanted hackers. If you have questions or would like to talk about your legal needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us by calling at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com. 

A Guide for Elderly Parent Care

A Guide for Elderly Parent Care

Aging is something you cannot escape, and it affects all family systems. It can be challenging for adult children to imagine their parents as seniors and to understand and respond to the reality that each parent will age differently. Even if you are in the fortunate circumstance where your aging parents can go it alone for a long time there will come a day when assistance or long term care will be needed. There are things to consider as you help your parents live their best possible aging scenario. Managing their welfare takes time, research, and planning.

Your parents and their abilities to remain independent are most easily defined by activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs). Activities of daily living address daily functional mobility like getting in and out of bed or a chair, self-feeding, bathing and personal hygiene, the ability to use the toilet, and the ability to get dressed. These are essential daily living requirements that promote dignity and physical as well as emotional well- being for your elderly parents. If your parents are having difficulty managing these ADLs, it is an appropriate time to find help for them whether it is you or another qualified caregiver.

IADLs include all ADL activities and more. The additions are grocery shopping and cooking, medication management, laundry, and other housework, bill paying and finance management, using a telephone, and driving or using public transportation. Recognizing your parent’s limitations in any of these categories is a sign that you need to develop a care plan that provides appropriate assistance. The degree of change or sometimes multiple changes is an indication that staying at home may no longer be appropriate and safe for your parent. If you require assistance in determining suitable care needs, you can set up a comprehensive geriatric assessment by a medical professional. Take an honest look at the stage of life your parent is experiencing and then find the support and help they require.

Your aging parents’ geographical location is critical to consider as a family. Families are fortunate when one adult child lives nearby and can ensure their parent’s well-being. Video chat either online or through a phone application is one way to daily check on a parent. A friend may live close by and can do wellness checks and provide information about behavioral or health changes. If none of these options are viable, it may be time to discuss the idea of your parent(s) downsizing into another more supportive location and living arrangement.  

Having this discussion is best before a parent’s adverse health event. Making residential changes without a previous plan in place can negatively impact on the parent, especially when experiencing a health care crisis. When aging at home cannot be appropriately managed, it is time to consider the alternatives. These alternatives may include independent living communities, assisted living communities, nursing homes, or living with a trustworthy and capable relative or family member. 

All of these assessments and changes in your parents’ lives impact their financial outlook. Making necessary residential changes can often be very costly, and your parent may need additional financial support from government or community programs to offset the difference in expenses. It is critical to take advantage of all possible financial help. As an adult child, you may have to begin managing their finances and retirement funds more actively. There are various federal, state, and non-profit groups that provide free tax assistance for seniors. 

Some of the better organizations to help you navigate what is available are online and include Benefits.govArea Agency on Aging, and Benefitscheckup.org. These groups can help you assess the best strategies for housing, healthcare, financial assistance, legal aid, transportation, in-home services, prescription drugs, energy and utility support, and nutrition. BenefitsCheckUp is part of the National Council on Aging and is considered the nation’s most comprehensive online service for seniors with limited income and resources. The information available canvases all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Caring for your aging parents should not be the job of one family member. The commitment should not be a burden, and responsibilities should be shared. Look for caregiver support organizations and forums as well as involving all family members. Everyone should do their part. The goal is to find the best blend of options and resources to allow your parents to age happily and well. Your parents’ health changes require that programs and opportunities change too. Caring for your aging parent is a dynamic process that must be retooled as their needs change. 

We help families who are trying to navigate the maze of long term care either for themselves or for an aging parent. Please give us a call so we can discuss your particular needs at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

Many Wealthy Retirees Are Too Scared to Spend

Many Wealthy Retirees are Too Scared to Spend

While the US economy is in a cycle of more than ten years of economic growth, its citizens, even the “wealthy” ones, are worried about running out of cash and are scared to spend. Bloomberg.com is reporting many retirees, and near-retirees are sitting on their wealth in much the same way large corporations are hoarding stockpiles of cash. Even famed investor Warren Buffet and his multinational conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc are side-lining cash in excess of $122 billion.

 

Americans are experiencing a strong economy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is steadily growing. There are low-interest rates, low unemployment, a stable currency, and more than $1 trillion of available investor cash. For those retirees who are financially well off then, why is there anxiety about money and reluctance to enjoy it in retirement years? Yes, many of the wealthy are planning on leaving a legacy to their heirs, but something else is happening.

 

Wealth in the US is becoming more concentrated among fewer households. Consolidating wealth is like consolidating power. Ultimately there is little difference between the two. The Americans who have most benefited from this ten-year boom cycle in the American economy are averse to spending their money. They want to survive an economic downturn and still maintain their elite financial status. This conservative approach will likely guarantee them a very comfortable lifestyle even in the event of bleak financial times. Former Brookings Institution fellow Matt Fellowes states, “It’s trillions and trillions of wealth that is not benefiting anyone except asset managers.” The rich, sitting on their wealth, create stagnant money, which negatively impacts the vitality of the American economy.

 

The Federal Reserve provides a quarterly balance sheet of all individual and charitable monies and America’s combined net worth now stands at $109 trillion. It is a lot of money; however, it has disproportionately flowed to the wealthy. Celebrity and wealth-obsessed culture saturates Americans with images of the rich with expensive real estate, private jets and yachts, and attending posh philanthropic parties. The reality of the average millionaire in America is far more frugal than their Instagram and paparazzi driven counterparts. Retirement experts often disagree as to why these conservative millionaires are unwilling to enjoy the fruits of their lifelong labors. 

 

Being cautious with money is inherently prudent, particularly at the height of an economic boom cycle. Even without market uncertainty, a key characteristic of modern capitalist economies is a boom-bust cycle. A process of economic expansion (boom) will be followed by economic contraction (bust), and the cycle occurs repeatedly. 

 

 

www.federalreserve.gov

 

All Americans, even the wealthy ones, are experiencing uncertainty about their economic future. Will their rate of return on investments be able to address increasing medical costs? Will they have enough streams of income to support themselves when taking into account their longevity risk? Collectively, Americans are not saving enough to accomplish a successful retirement. However, individually, wealthy Americans are fearful of losing their financial position in a severe market downturn. These wealthy Americans have already lived through harsh economic times, particularly the Great Recession. This economic bust was triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the US housing market bubble. Market bubbles present themselves from time to time, and if the free market successfully deleverages them, there is little economic incident. But when the bottom drops out, bleak economic times follow.

Once you achieve wealth, it becomes an inherent part of your identity, and consequently spending your wealth is like spending your own identity’s capital. Additionally, as you age, the tendency is to become more risk-averse, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With the bulk of the wealth of America in older households than in previous decades, it is no surprise that risk-averse strategies are in play. A lifetime spent acquiring wealth and watching accounts and investments mature then morphs into retirement years of asset spending and the dilution of wealth. The majority of wealthy Americans are not keen to adapt to the life cycle of asset accumulation followed by retirement spending. Their preference is to live frugally, retaining as many assets as possible to be able to ride out an economic downturn.

Planning for retirement can be stressful. Having a proper estate plan in place can eliminate much of the stress, especially when it comes to transferring assets to children who may not be ready to handle large sums of money. We can help. Give us a call to discuss your wishes, and how to design a plan that will help carry those wishes out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Better Senior Fall Prevention Programs Through Technology

Better Senior Fall Prevention Programs Through Technology

One of the most common injury producers are seniors experiencing accidental falls. Debilitating injuries range from short-term sprains, bumps, and bruises to fractures and head traumas which may require hospitalization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one out of five falls causes a serious injury and that each year 3 million older people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries with 800,000 of those requiring hospitalization. Death rates due to an accidental fall as the underlying cause are on the rise.

 

Technology is providing various ways to combat the problem using balance games fitness programs, diagnosis of potential weak areas of balance and gait, and wearable sensor monitors and boards that measure progress in real time providing feedback as to how well the senior is faring in their overall physical stability.

Nintendo Wii Fit U combined with the Wii balance board was not designed with seniors specifically in mind however several games have been optimized for the needs of seniors and their workouts. One of the great features is that all you need is a TV and the Wii console game system. There is no need for the senior to leave their home and the games do not require a lot of physical space. The balance board allows the game to track your movements and weight distribution, recognizing problems with your form or stance. Immediate feedback enables correction as issues arise. Using the Wii Fit can reduce falls and improve balance in seniors and its fun. Wii Fit U and other game console platforms such as the Microsoft Xbox One with Kinect and Sony PlayStation can provide in-home exercise for seniors that can help avert balance issues and ensuing fall injury. The Wii Fit U, however, is better suited to senior exercise needs and monitoring of progress. 

SmartBalance technology by HUR was specifically designed for older adults who experience balance issues and although there are games that are played the user is on a static sensor platform with grab bars, much like a treadmill minus the rotating belt. This technology is best for seniors who have more significant challenges in mobility. The stabilization games are interactive and fun while they help to build core strength and muscle memory. A unique design is available that allows a wheelchair platform access so the user can train without leaving their chair. Test results can be compared to normative data, and progress tracking is visual, intuitive, and motivational as customization of training and comparisons of previous balance tests provide progress assessment which helps to motivate the user.

QTUG, technology created by Kinesis Health Technologies of Ireland, can provide gate and mobility assessment and fall prevention data in as little as five minutes. Mobility parameters divide into five functional categories that include walking, variability, symmetry, transfers, and turning. The user wears inertial sensors that actively and accurately measure gait and mobility as they engage in simple tasks such as rising from a chair, walking 10 feet and turning to sit in a chair again. Results of the tests are delivered to a mobile device like a smartphone via Bluetooth technology, and the senior or care provider can check the score that rates the seniors fall risk as well as their mobility and frailty. This QTUG technology can export all patient results in an Excel format as well as create a comprehensive fall risk and mobility report for each test in a PDF format. All of the resulting data can be uploaded to the cloud for medical interpretation, recommendation or referral. The testing results are automatically backed up, secure and HIPAA compliant.

Older adults and seniors need to be very mindful about their balance and mobility. Catastrophic medical issues can occur with the simplest of falls and sometimes precipitate an earlier than anticipated death. Technology is at the forefront of detailed, individualized diagnoses and corrective exercise programs that when implemented can help prevent accidental falls. To find out which technology best suits your fitness level and needs, speak to trusted counsel who can point you in the right direction to help keep you secure in your physical movement. Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning.  Call us at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

Staying Mentally Sharp

Staying Mentally Sharp

Age comes with wisdom. Unfortunately, it also comes with some forgetfulness. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the brain sharp, small daily habits which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. 

Exercise is one such daily habit. It increases blood flow, and thus oxygen to the brain; it also protects brain cells against destructive chemicals in the environment. Exercise also supports the production of new brain cells. Furthermore, research in the 2000s showed a relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s. Anything which can impair blood flow can cause strokes leading to cognitive decline, otherwise known as vascular dementia. The same activities that one would consider as beneficial to the heart, such as regular exercise, can therefore also be effective in protecting the brain. And, of course, there are other benefits to exercising regularly: it helps with energy levels, decreases anxiety and depression, and can help with sleep.

Sleep is another factor to maintaining a healthy mind. But as many as half of adults 60 and older are affected by insomnia, which can result in memory loss, depression, and other symptoms. It’s important, then, to pay attention to sleep hygiene and sleep schedules to ensure sufficient duration and quality. If it takes more than 45 minutes to fall asleep, or you have trouble staying asleep, it may be worth looking into treatment.

Eating well is another way to protect the mind. It’s important to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins A, B, C, D, E, folic acid and niacin. The USDA and the HHS describe two eating plans: the USDA food patterns or the DASH Eating Plan. Foods like nuts, fish, and wine have also been linked to a healthy brain.

Art, music, reading, writing, learning, and puzzles… these are also good for keeping the brain sharp. Art has been used as an Alzheimer’s treatment and to restore memory; and arts maintain and improve dexterity and fine motor skills! Adult coloring books have become popular in recent years, and can be found in many stores and online; watercolors and pastels are also relaxing. Meanwhile, music has been linked to improved memory and cognition, and can both elevate your mood and lower blood pressure. Learning and intellectual challenges like puzzles exercise the brain and improve its capacity. Mental exercise is thought to maintain and stimulate brain cells. This includes pursuit of hobby, learning new skills, using brain training apps, or taking on other new kinds of projects at work.

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84+ billion in annual tech spending for those aged 50 or older by 2030

84+ billion in annual tech spending for those aged 50 or older by 2030

It isn’t just assisted living and nursing home workers employing the latest technology to improve caregiving for elder Americans. According to an AARP Survey upwards of 84 billion dollars will be spent annually on technology products for personal self-care use by the 132 million Americans aged 50 or more by the year 2030. While 84 billion dollars is a lot of money it does not account for additional discretionary spending for technology purchases such as gifts for children or grandchildren; therefore the number of dollars spent on technology by seniors could be significantly higher than already projected. A significant portion of the personal needs purchases will be to address privacy and security issues as fewer than one in four senior adults trust online retailers, telecom service providers, and even the federal government. 

Though concerns regarding privacy are in the forefront of technology purchasing, counter-intuitively another significant portion of projected purchases will be for personal home assistants such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa, which allow passive “spying” on home environments. Currently, of those Americans, aged 50 plus, one in seven owns a personal assistant and the projected sales increases in this demographic is growing at a very rapid pace. Additionally, technology products such as smartphones, smart TVs, smart cars (nearly 1 in 4 view advanced driver assistance technology like lane change monitoring, collision avoidance, automatic parking, and emergency braking as important) and virtual reality devices are also increasing as are smart environmental control devices for thermostats, lighting, refrigerator door and stove monitors, and front doorbell audio/video capabilities. 

Upwards of 23 percent of aging adults are embracing the benefits of lifelong learning through technology-enabled classrooms, certification programs or tutorials which may, in turn, lead to seniors providing more online content and blogs specifically geared for aging Americans written by aging Americans. Sixty-three percent of seniors use computers or smartphones to play games and 57 percent watch TV or movies while more than 90 percent use technology to stay in daily contact with family and friends. Already, a full 13 percent of 50 plus adults use virtual reality, and it is increasing at a healthy 4 percent a year despite it being a relatively new technology for commercial use. Current smartphone and computer device usage for those ages 50 to 64 rank the same as the average American; 83 percent employ smartphones while 91 percent use computers.

The number of new consumers in the American population is growing at less than 1 percent a year which means that the aging American market is a sweet spot of spending for corporations seeking to generate revenue. The fact that these elder Americans are online where their information can be absorbed, data mined, and target marketed will increase profits outside of the simple purchase of a technology product. Sales of technology products are now being monetized post-purchase by collecting personal data and reselling the information to advertisers, marketers, and even government agencies. 

By 2030 it is projected that there will be more than 132 million Americans aged 50 plus which is an increase of more than 17 million in that demographic. These Americans represent the bulk of purchasing power as well as the growing need to address successful aging strategies through the implementation of technology products. There are just not enough younger people to be employed in the caregiver industry to address all of the future aging needs the baby boomer generation represents.

Aging Americans can expect a lot of commercial technology products specifically tailored to their needs in the coming years because they have so much money to spend. Seniors want life-enhancing and protecting technology products, and corporations want to make money so the senior technology product market will become an increasingly important segment of the technology sector.

Technology is becoming increasingly popular as a means for providing or delivering care to seniors. We help seniors and their families plan for the possibility of needing care in the future, and would be happy to discuss how we can help you do the same by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

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Covert | Law

Your Plan. Your Family. Their Future.

- - We Take Care of Families: Today - Tomorrow - Forever - -

NEIL R. COVERT, Attorney at Law

Clearwater - Sarasota - Fort Myers - Naples

1.800.660.7564

email: info@covertlaw.com

© 2019 Neil R. Covert, P.A. - - All Rights Reserved.

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