Active women are reporting issues with overactive bladder.
No one likes to think about the end of life, but securing your assets in the form of a will or a living trust may give you the peace of mind that your wishes will be properly documented and that your family will be provided for in the event anything happens to you.
According to Stephen DiGregorio Esq., Founder of Protecting Your Assets and an Estate Planning Lawyer, there are several ways to ensure as smooth transfer of one’s assets after our passing. While most of us have heard of wills and trusts there are many basics that can be confusing and lost in lawyer legalize. Mr. DiGregorio sat down with me to explain in simple terms the fundamentals of Estate Planning. In this entry we will discuss Wills. Visit us again next week for a look into the benefits of living trusts.
What is a will?
A will is a document that contains your instructions as to how property and assets will be distributed after your death. This could include your home, land, vehicles, bank accounts, insurance benefits, investments, jewelry and other personal possessions. A Will is a public document that may be challenged during probate which can take about a year to a year-and-a-half.
Why do I need a Will?
Wills involve many items of both monetary value and items that may be personally priceless to you or your family. If you should die without a will it is considered “intestate” and the rules of law will apply. A court of law will decide on how your property is distributed and who the beneficiaries will be. It may not be according to your wishes so dying “intestate” is not a good position to be in for the sake of your beneficiaries. While you may think that family members can calmly divide the assets it is always best to put your wishes in writing.
Can I use a template drafted from the internet?
In today’s easy internet-access world “googling” a free template for a Will is not difficult. Mr. DiGregorio however, points out several pitfalls to making your own will without consulting a lawyer. Each state has their own laws and regulations regarding wills, probate and the transference of property. Unfortunately these laws change and evolve faster than the internet can keep up with and the template may not be consistent with new state laws. Legal execution of a Will is also a possible problem in creating and notarizing your own will. A court may throw out a Will on a technicality if a proper notary was not used or the witnesses have a stake in the Will such as a family member. DiGregorio also cautions about using a lawyer who does not have specialty experience in Estate Planning. As an analogy DiGregorio states, “You wouldn’t go to a General Practitioner if you had a specific medical condition so why do the same for legal matters?”
For more answers to your Estate Planning Questions please contact
Stephen DiGregorio Esq. – Protecting Your Assets - 978-210-9666
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Seniors who volunteer are happily creating a “win-win” situation in their neighborhood and in their lives.
Volunteers make a huge difference every day at local churches, community centers, schools, libraries, and health care organizations. Community service organizations thrive when they engage the services of seniors specifically by reducing costs with the donated time of the seniors.That altruistic act of volunteering can then pay special dividends for seniors. According to the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA), studies have shown that there are numerous emotional, cognitive and physical benefits to volunteering.
Emotional Benefits. Volunteerism can help seniors overcome feelings of being isolated and depressed. Giving back to the surrounding community allows seniors to make social connections close to home and may give a senior a sense of purpose which can make a huge difference in attitude and overall outlook. Having something to look forward to daily or weekly can make a senior feel needed and important.
Cognitive Benefits. Recent VNA studies of senior volunteers indicate that “staying active and alert and on-the-move through volunteerism can slow cognitive decline.” By volunteering in the classroom or library where certain mental tasks are used can increase “executive function” and increase brain activity. As an added benefit – sharing a special talent, skill or experiences can increase mental acuity by working the region of the brain involved with memory and speech. These mental benefits are long lasting and in many cases keep a senior intellectually stimulated.
Physical Benefits. Giving back can help improve your physical well-being. Merely by being active while you volunteer can aid in maintaining muscle strength and flexibility. The Senior Care Network reports that 75% of seniors with chronic conditions say volunteering helps them manage the pain of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and high blood-pressure.
It appears that by staying physically active, intellectually stimulated and emotionally connected in a purposeful way has health benefits that may far exceed the outward benefit of helping non-profits that need to rely on volunteers more than ever in this sluggish economy.
How can I get involved?
- Try contacting “Senior Corps, Volunteers of America” to see if there are local non-profits that need assistance. By registering they will match you with a project that can utilize your special skills.
- “AARP Create the Good” will have lists of volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Contact your local church, school, or library depending upon your interests to see if they are accepting new volunteers.
- Look for fliers at your local senior center where they may be able to assist you with transportation to and from the volunteer location.
- Ask friends what volunteer about projects that they have enjoyed in the past.
- Visiting Nurses Association
- Retirement Living by Kimberly Vickers
- Senior Care Network
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Comedian and nonagenarian George Burns quipped that “you can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”
The stereotypical vision of baby boomers would have us all believing that seniors are quietly playing Bingo or shuffling along at the nursing home – waiting for their last days. This could not be further from the truth. The National Council on Aging reports that an active sex life appears to be “as normal a part of aging as retirement and having grandchildren.” Let’s look at some statistics about intimacy during the senior years, its importance and benefits.
According to Global Action on Aging, over 80% of seniors 60-65 are sexually active. Those number drop with advancing years but over 25% of men and women over the age 80 also report that they are sexually active. This is good news for older adults because as we age our need for physical intimacy does not diminish rather it may increase due to a physical impairment or feelings of isolation.
What are the benefits of intimacy in the senior years?
- Feel Connected to others. As social beings we all need that sense of connection to others that wards off feelings of isolation and depression. This does not mean that to feel connected you need to have intercourse – rather snuggling, hand holding and hugging can also bring on that sense of connecting with others.
- Good Form of Exercise. Sexual intercourse or other methods of intimacy many times have a physical component that can aid with muscle elasticity, muscle strength and improving heart rate. Even a small amount of exercise can stop muscle atrophy. In medical studies regular touch has shown to lower blood pressure and slow heart rates.
- Anxiety Reducer. Whether it is a simple touch to help someone get up and down in a chair, combing someone’s hair, or the more intimate act of “making whoopee”, each level of intimacy makes us feel more secure and reassured. Studies have even shown that even the touch of a beloved pet can have the beneficial effects of reducing tension.
The message is clear that intimacy is beneficial mentally, emotionally and physically. Without the fears of your younger years such as a child walking in or having to get up early for work or even stressing about physical performance, the senior years may make sex better than ever! While adaptations may need to be made to make this a more pleasurable activity as you age, it will most certainly improve your confidence, mood and even your health!
- National Council on Aging
- Global Action on Aging
- AARP – Staying Active
- VNA Health Care
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, the statistics for in home falls are alarming!
- Every 17 seconds an older adult is treated in a hospital for an injury related to a fall
- Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults
- More than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year
- Greater than 20% of all falls result in hip fractures, lacerations, or head injuries
- The largest majority of falls occur in the bathroom!
How can you prevent falls in the bathroom?
Most falls are preventable. This is good news since more than 83% of aging adults are choosing to stay in their own homes. Let’s look at both products and tips from experts that are specially designed to make the bathroom a safer place.
- The Bathtub - Getting in and out of the tub/shower is a a balancing act that may be difficult for many older adults. The ultimate tub safety equipment is the installation of a walk-in tub/shower. These come with many options such as hand-held shower sprayers, heated seating, and textured floors to prevents slips and falls. If this is out of budget for you, the installation of more affordable grab bars and grab handles will assist with stability and balance. By adding affordable nonskid mats and shower chairs the risks for falls also decreases greatly.
- The Sink Area. Store towels, soaps and other bathroom necessities in easy to reach places that require no bending. All throw carpets should be removed or replaced with nonskid carpets surrounding the sink area. Also ensure that proper lighting is well maintained.
- The Toilet Area. Elderly people with knee problems might face problems while siting or lowering to the toilet. There are two types of toilet seats that you can buy. There is one plastic seat which once fitted, can be lifted by at least 5 inches. Or, you can also get the adjustable seat that can be raised to around 6 inches higher than the normal height of the seat. For ensuring safety, toilet handles or grips should surround the toilet area allowing for an older adult to stabilize oneself while standing and lowering.
General tips to decrease slips and falls
- Get regular eye exams that will ensure line of sight is not compromised,
- Exercise when possible to maintain good muscles control.
- Remove any tripping hazards such as towels, magazines or other bathroom items.
- Have medications checked to ensure they do not cause dizziness or reduce balance.
These simple bathroom modifications can mean the difference between falling and being able to maintain independence in your own home. Do not delay making modification and risk becoming a statistic. Take action now- don’t wait to be safe!
- The Center for Disease Control
- Fall Prevention Services
- Active Forever Fitness, Safety and Medical Supplies
- AARP Safety Tips
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As we age it is normal to experience changes in sleeping patterns. But if you are chronically bleary-eyed and feel sleep deprived, it may be time to look into some techniques to improve your quality of sleep.
Whether you are a newborn baby or a senior, sleep is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. Seniors that have poor sleep habits can be more prone to illness, memory problems, slips and falls and changes in mood. In order to boost your immune system, improve memory function and allow the body refresh itself, older adults require between 6-8 hours of sleep each night. While this varies with each individual the National Institute for Health recommends that amount for most older adults to feel and function at his/her best.
Let’s look at some common sense tips to sleep better as you age.
1. Get regular Exercise. Gentle aerobic activities such as gardening, swimming or even just walking releases chemicals that encourage sleep. You may not feel sleepy if the body is too sedentary.
2. Create a good sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Any light, noise or excessive heat may cause sleep problems. Turn your clock so that you don’t see the time each time you wake at night. Not only will the light disturb you but the stress of thinking about the time may also hinder your ability to relax into a peaceful sleep.
3, Get outside during the day. Bright sunlight helps regulate melatonin and sets your sleep/wake cycle. If getting out is not possible move a chair near a window or invest in a light therapy box to simulate daylight.
4. Eat wisely. Avoid foods that may cause indigestion, heartburn or gas discomfort prior to bed. Have a small healthy snack with warm milk to help satisfy hunger but not upset your stomach.
5. Treat an overactive bladder. Although limiting liquid intake before bed may work for some adults others need help to quiet an overactive bladder. Better Woman Now is an all-natural herbal supplement that improves circulation and improves muscle control around the bladder. It has no known side effects and will decrease the urgency and frequency of urination.
6. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. These stimulants can interfere with the quality of your sleep. While alcohol may help you feel sleepy it will disturb the sleep cycle.
7. Maintain a sleep routine and schedule. Try going to bed at the same time each night and develop a soothing bedtime ritual like playing music, taking a bath, or reading a book. The benefits of these routines will improve relaxation and reduce your stress while cuing your body that it is time for sleep.
While it is inevitable that we sleep less as we age, it is not necessary to feel groggy or irritable all day due to a lack of sleep. If these techniques do not help your insomnia please consult your doctor to check for sleep disorders, medications that may be interfering with sleep or a medical condition that may be stopping you from getting your zzzzzzzz’s.
- Insomnia in Older Adults
- National Health Institute
- Northwestern University – Feinberg School of Medicine -
- National Sleep Institute
- The Help Guide to Sleep
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Is your baby “sleeping like a baby?” If your child needs to be rocked, cuddled, nursed and changed repeatedly during the night then the answer is probably a resounding “no!” Trying to make sense of the ever changing sleep patterns of a baby is one of the largest challenges of parenting. Whether you are a ‘newbie’ or a ‘well-seasoned’ parent, it can be overwhelming to understand the conflicting theories and advice given by experts on this hot button topic. Let’s sort through the most well-known theories and then you may find one that works for you, your family and most importantly your baby.
Ferberizing- Invented by leading (and sometimes controversial) expert Richard Ferber, this concrete method is a way to teach your baby to self-soothe and sleep on his/her own. This technique requires putting baby to down to sleep while awake (but drowsy) and leaving the child for gradually longer periods of time until the child can fall asleep and stay asleep on his/her own. This method suggests returning to the room at set intervals, patting or comforting the child, but not picking up the child to feed, cuddle or soothe. This is called “progressive waiting” but is commonly referred to as Ferberizing, Opponents of this method argue that leaving a child to cry-it-out could be harmful to a child’s sense of security and trust. Advocates praise this method as a way of teaching children to learn the important skill of soothing oneself.
Attachment Parenting Healthcare couple pediatrician William Sears and his wife, nurse Martha Sears, have been in practice for more than 30 years and support a method commonly referred to as Attachment Parenting. This school of thought encourages parents to set up a soothing nighttime routine including reading, baby massage, a warm bath and most importantly an emotionally secure environment so a child’s independence can develop naturally. This technique allows for co-sleeping, nursing, or snuggling in a parent’s arms until the time comes that they can wean from parents. Opponents of this method say this may cause more dependency and tends to take a longer to have a child sleep independently. Supporters cite success and say that the physical closeness is more nurturing and creates a positive association with sleep rather than a fearful one.
The No Cry Sleep Solution - If you are looking for a middle ground between “routine-based” and “attachment parenting” this may be the approach you may find works for you. Elizabeth Pantley. parent educator and author of the popular book, “No Cry Sleep Solution,” suggests this structured yet gentle solution to sleep training. Her step-by-step outline is customizable for your child and focuses on putting a baby to sleep drowsy but only after cuddling, nursing and finding the security in a parent’s arms. Parents would respond immediately to a child’s cries and offer a gradual approach to weaning your child from needing a parent at night to soothe. This six phase process includes keeping sleep logs to learn a child’s routines and teach him/her to sleep independently in a crib.
Regardless of the school of thought you follow realize that this baby sleep debate must be right for you and your family.
- What to Expect the First Year
- Baby Center Medical Advisory Board
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A Health Care Proxy (also know as a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Agent, or a Medical Surrogate) is a legal document that allows another person (a proxy) to express your wishes and make health care decisions for you in the event that you can not communicate or make decisions on your own. This legal function is governed by state laws and therefore goes by different names but serves the same basic function. A Health Care Proxy becomes effective when your attending physician determines that you are unable to make or communicate health care decisions. The legal status only lasts the duration of the capacity in the case of a temporary illness or surgery.
Naming a Health Care Agent:
When choosing a proxy you will want to select an individual who you trust to make significant health care decisions on your behalf. Regardless of whether you appoint a friend or family member it is important that this person understands your values, preferences and possibly religious beliefs about end-of-life care. The person must be willing to follow through on difficult decisions, confer with the medical team, and consent or refuse medical treatment including but not limited to life sustaining treatment.
If you are legally married, your spouse is already designated by law to speak on your behalf as are parents/guardians legally charged with the decisions for the health care of their child. In all other cases, a proxy must be designated. Therefore, it is imperative that a Health Care Proxy be appointed for elderly loved ones. If there is no family or there is no one you trust to make the medical choices for you, it would be best to then create a living will to advise your doctors about your medical preferences.
Creating a Health Care Proxy
Obtain common forms for your state’s version of the Health Care Proxy from your health care provider, a local hospital, a nursing home or online by searching for “medical power of attorney”. More extensive forms and counseling that goes with them are available from Elder Law Attorneys. However, you do not need a lawyer to write a health care proxy. Most standard forms must just be signed by the person, their proxy and a legal notary public. Finally give a copy of the document to your health care agent to make sure your are protected and that your wishes are honored.
- American Bar Association Consumer Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning
- Medicare Interactive
- “Agent’s Role in End of Life Care www.rwjf.org
- Tully and Winkleman PC – “Responsibilities of Being a Health Care Proxy”
- “Questions and Answers of Being a Medical Power of Attorney”
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When you grow concerned about the safety, well-being, and even needed social contact for your elderly loved one, the decision to look into senior living facilities can be overwhelming. However, the ultimate goal of providing better medical care and more social opportunities can also provide peace of mind for the entire family. The two most common forms of senior living are nursing homes and assisted living facilities that each have benefits and drawbacks depending upon the needs of your loved one. Here are some basic questions to consider.
What level of medical care do you need?
The main difference between assisted living facilities and nursing homes is the level of medical care a resident receives (or needs) and the freedom the resident is allowed. In most nursing homes, many residents need constant medical supervision especially for seniors with: complicated medical conditions that require regular monitoring, mild to moderate dementia, and or problems with incontinence. Nursing home residents typically need assistance with daily living and are not capable of living independently. Round-the-clock nurse assistance, physician oversight and in depth custodial services are hallmarks of a licensed nursing home. Nursing Home residents are likely to remain on the grounds of the facility mainly because they are physically or mentally unable to leave.
Assisted living facilities are ideal for seniors who need help with a few activities of daily living such as dressing, eating and bathing but don’t require serious medical attention. In most states assisted living staff can not legally administer medication but may only hand it to a resident at the required time. Assisted living can work well for people with mild cognitive problems who might still drive, enjoy coming and going freely while still like having the security of medical supervision and social interaction with other residents.
How do the facilities of nursing homes differ from assisted living?
Assisted Living Homes come in various forms including larger, apartment-style buildings or smaller, family run homes. In general most assisted living options are created to be comfortable and homey. They often consist of private apartment style rooms that allow the resident to decorate with their own, familiar furnishings. They offer medical assistance services without the typical nurses station and are void of the institutional feel that are typical of hospitals,
Nursing homes also have a variety of types of living quarters including: private, semi-private or larger apartment style living quarters. Many nursing homes also provide social activities, cafeterias, housekeeping services and many even offer salon services. Each home is different so certainly shop around – looking carefully at services and facilities to find one that fits both your physical needs and personal style.
- Dr. Catherine Hawes (leading expert on long term care for seniors) New York Times “Assisted Living or a Nursing Home”
- Finding the Right Level of Elder Care
- Avvo.com “Nursing Homes vs Assisted Living – What is right for you?”
- Skilled Nursing Facilities – www.skillednursingfacilities.org (charts and lists comparing nursing homes and assisted living facilities)
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“Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional.”
Are you in your golden years but still young at heart? Are you or your family members concerned about your safety living alone? Medical Alert Systems provide a level of safety to many people who would like to stay independent well into those golden years. Alert Systems are considered one of the most helpful tools in promoting independence and instant access to emergency assistance.
Why would a senior want a medical alert system? Serious medical situations such as strokes and heart attacks or sudden illnesses such as a simple stomach virus can create emergencies where an elderly family member may not be able to get to the phone or seek aid on their own. In fact, more than thirteen million people over the age of 65 fall every year in their home. In the unfortunate event that this occurs, medical professional agree that every second counts.
What are the advantages of having a system installed in your home? The benefits of these systems include 24 hour support, independence for the user and peace of mind for the families. Few people can afford having a private healthcare provider monitor them. Alert systems tend to be an affordable alternative typically costing around a $1 a day which provides both the equipment and 24 hour monitoring service. In addition, medical alert systems are fairly easy to use and install. If a user falls or becomes disabled they merely push the button on the transmitter which is commonly worn as a necklace, wrist-let or can hook on to a belt. These transmitters are designed to work in a power outage as well as in the shower, where a majority of senior falls occur. Once the call center is alerted they respond according to a plan that you and your family have set in place prior. This may include contacting a family member, 911 or speaking directly to the customer through the base station near your phone.
Which Medical Alert System should you choose? There are so many companies that provide quality medical alerting systems. When reviewing and choosing a company, look for one with both an established track record and one who has been in business for over 30 years. In your search for a company with a good reputation you may want to refer to the ratings at the Better Business Bureau. Look for a BBB rating of an A- or better. Once you have chosen a company and installed your system you may find that you have peace of mind for your young at heart. Lastly, review uncensored testimonials on review sites such as the Happy Healthy Net. Once you have started to use the system you will find that you are not only still young at heart but have a renewed peace of mind.
- Lifestyle Healthy Guide – Medical Alert Reviews
- Better Business Bureau – Medical Alerting Systems
- Lifeline Medical Alert System
- LifeFone Systems
- Philiips Lifeline Systems
- Life Link