Why Baby Boomers Need Sex Education

As you get older, life can still be filled with things you never thought you would be doing.

For example – I never, ever imagined that one day I might be a blogger. Having now written over 100
posts, I guess I could now say I’ve flown past that expectation. Secondly – in addition to the fact that I
never thought I would be a blogger, what was even further from this thought was that I would ever
write about the topic of sex.

You would think that by the time we all hit 50+, we would be quite knowledgeable about sex.

Afterall, baby boomers were the ones that came up with the whole idea of “free love” and were the first
generation to truly embrace “the pill“. We were also the generation to have had the most number of
sexual partners (baby boomers average 11 partners – compared with millennials average of 8). And
chances are we have even educated our own children about the topic.

So why do we need to talk about sex now?

With the increase in older people dating (often due to later divorce or death of a partner), many older
people are now having unprotected sex. As a result, the increase of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
for older people is skyrocketing.

In a report by Global News about sexually active seniors, they shared the following statistics:

“According to Health Canada, national rates of STIs for people 60 and over are relatively low, but
since the early 2000s, the number of cases of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased
significantly among seniors….. They represent a five per cent increase in syphilis, a 142 per cent
increase in chlamydia and an 87 per cent rise in gonorrhea.”

And the situation isn’t any different in the US. STDAware also reported some significant increases in the
rates of STD’s for individuals over 50:

“…recent studies have shown that STDs in the 50 to 70 age group have increased 38 percent
from 2014 to 2017…. people over 50 years old made up 21 percent of new HIV diagnoses.”

So, why is this happening?
There are a number of reasons being cited:

No Longer a Fear of Pregnancy
When baby boomers started having sex, pregnancy was often the first and only issue that was
considered. Now that this potentially is no longer a concern for older couples, protection is often not
thought of as being necessary.

Previous Sexual Partner History
Often many older people had previous long term sexual relationships where protection was not
necessary. They are taking these same assumptions from old relationships into new sexual encounters
without considering the possible consequences.

Unaware of Symptoms
Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) often can be existent without any specific symptoms. So if
someone is infected, they may not even know it.

Physicians Don’t Ask
Many times discussion about sexual health and activity is not discussed by healthcare professionals.
There can sometimes be a preconceived belief that older individuals are not sexually active.

So what needs to be done?

Use Protection
Think about it. What advice would you give to someone else considering having a new sexual
encounter? Chances are you would say something like “be sure that you use protection“.

We need to now re-embrace that same philosophy ourselves. As much as we might want to believe that
we either know someone or think there is no way that they could possibly have an STI or pose a risk to
us, there is still a possibility. We wouldn’t be seeing these increasing rates in STI’s if there wasn’t.

And what if your partner doesn’t want to use protection? The UK National Health Service (NHS) provides
some suggestions on how to manage that situation here.

Get Tested First
If you are wanting to have unprotected sex, get tested first (and make sure your partner has been tested
as well). And if you think that the testing is part of your general physical conducted by your physician
that is more than likely not the case. You will need to request the test.

Having a healthy, happy, fulfilling sex life at an older age can be a wonderful thing. We just need to
make sure that we keep it just that – healthy.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Why Daily Foot Care is Important

Foot care is important for all ages but it is especially vital for the elderly. According to The American Podiatric Medical Association, by the time an American reaches 50 years old, they will have walked 75,000 miles! That’s a lot of pressure on the feet – literally – and that wear and tear from high mileage only increases with age. According to HealthDay.com, foot problems are also common in older people because feet lose cushioning as they age and the skin and nails can become dry and brittle. Many seniors have poor circulation and this can make foot sores slow to heal. Other common foot problems in older people include: Athlete’s foot, dry skin, corns and calluses, heel spurs, and ingrown toenails. The MontereyHerald.com says that foot disorders in the elderly often lead to pain, disability, and
loss of mobility and independence. Seniors also have mobility issues preventing them from reaching or bending to clean their feet.

So what’s the solution? Well, first, it’s clear that seniors must take care of their feet to avoid these common foot issues. Cleaning one’s feet daily is the best way to help prevent infections and other foot problems. But a daily foot cleaning is not always easy for seniors – bending, hunching and stooping is often painful on their  joints, muscles and back. Also, many seniors live alone and can’t rely on a caregiver or family member to assist them in a daily foot washing routine.

As mentioned previously, foot issues in the elderly don’t just cause pain and discomfort but they can also lead to a loss of mobility. This loss of mobility can then lead to a loss of independence which can increase loneliness and depression. Therefore, when it comes to seniors, foot problems aren’t isolated to just the foot, but rather can affect a person’s entire sense of physical, social, and psychological well-being. By keeping feet clean, soothed and massaged, seniors can protect their feet against common foot problems. One option is to use a foot cleaning system like The FootMate System. This system is a brush and specifically formulated gel that goes in the bath or shower to clean and massage feet daily without any bending. By keeping feet clean, an aging person can prevent foot problems before they occur. Seniors can continue being mobile, independent, and pain free by simply cleaning and soothing their feet every day while they bathe or shower.

Finding Assisted Living Solutions for Bariatric Patients

Finding the right assisted living community for your senior loved one can be a challenge. However, if you are looking for an assisted living solution for a bariatric senior, you may have a few different obstacles to overcome. Obesity has become a serious issue not only in the senior community, but across America as a whole. With more and more bariatric seniors in the U.S. today (as estimated 13 million) it is more important than ever that families and caregivers know how they can help these individuals get the care that they need.

Unfortunately, due to the challenges that obesity can bring, especially in terms of physical challenges, many bariatric seniors ultimately need assisted living service at a younger age than their peers who do not fall under the bariatric category. Finding the right type of care, the right services and the right accommodations can be a challenge and this is what you should be looking for as a caregiver:

Adequate Personal Living Space

This is especially important if you are relocating your senior loved one to an assisted living community, instead of someone’s home. You need to make sure that your loved one has plenty of living area, otherwise it may increase their chances of falling. Make sure there is plenty of space for your loved one to get around, and for any of their walking aides (such as wheelchairs or walkers) to get around as well. Seniors should be able to move comfortably around the home without bumping into something and falling.

This is something to look for not only in your loved one’s private quarters but in any community spaces as well.

Properly Trained Staff

The right staff can make all of the difference in any senior’s experience with assisted living. A properly trained staff is not only friendly and accommodating, but well-trained and familiar with working with bariatric seniors. Make sure that staff members know how to help a fallen bariatric senior and that there are staff members available who can help safely transfer obese training. There are many facilities that will provide additional training for staff members on bariatric transfers, it is important that you find a facility like this to ensure the safety of your loved one.

The Right Equipment

If your loved one is above a certain weight, there may be some equipment that cannot support them, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs or transfer chairs. Typically, if your loved one is 350 pounds or lighter, they will be fine with standard equipment, but heavier than that typically requires specialty items.

Other equipment to consider is lifts to help physically limited bariatric seniors as well as basic safety additions such as sturdy handrailing and safety rails in the bathrooms.

With this information in mind, make sure that you take your time to really find bariatric-friendly assisted living services. They can make all of the difference in your loved one’s quality of life and how they are able to enjoy their golden years.

Senior Co-Housing – What Is It?

When it comes to finding the right type of care facility for your senior loved one, you will find there is no shortage of available options. However, not all senior care communities are created equal. There are different types of senior housing options, all designed with different types of seniors in mind. One of the lesser-explored housing options that many families aren’t aware of is known as senior co-housing. If you aren’t already familiar with this housing option, here is everything you need to know about senior co-housing.

So, what is it?

According to the official definition, run by the Cohousing Association of the United States, senior cohousing is an “intentional community or private homes clustered around a shared space.” In these cohousing communities, all of the seniors live in private attached homes or condos but share different amenities and properties with other senior residents.

The housing options can vary, and typically there is a “common house” on the premises. This includes a kitchen used for preparing community meals as well as a living room and dining room used for resident gatherings. There are typically also bedrooms in these common homes meant for caregivers or guests.

Depending on the setup, these co-housing communities may also have larger common spaces such as pools, fitness centers and media centers.

With this information on senior co-housing you can make an informed decision about whether or not senior co-housing may be viable option for you and your loved one.

What are the benefits of co-housing?

There are many seniors who choose co-housing as their preferred assisted living option because of all of the perks that come with this housing options. Here are some of the many benefits of senior co-housing that are having more and more seniors turning to this assisted living solution.

  • It allows for more independence with seniors living in their own homes or condos, but there is still a strong support system.
  • There are plenty of communal meals and activities.
  • It provides a social outlet for seniors and helps prevent loneliness and isolation.
  • It helps families who know their senior loved one is surrounded by others in a supportive community.
  • These co-housing communities are designed to be sustainable and affordable.
  • Many of these communities are able to cut down on waste and resources consumption by sharing food, energy, maintenance costs and other expenses.

It is important to note that these communities are not retirement communities. They are owned and operated by the residents themselves. There is no professional management company overseeing everything, unless the community of residents decides on hiring one for things such as meal prep and laundry. Many times, in cohousing communities, residents must purchase their own homes or condos, similar to purchasing an actual house.

Now that you are aware of some of the intricacies of senior co-housing, you can determine if this type of living situation may benefit your loved one now, or in the future.

5 Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors

It is so important for every person, at every age, to care for their heart. Cardiovascular health is extremely important especially for seniors, which is why it is essential that elderly adults are aware of some of the easy tips they can implement to keep their hearts healthy. The great news about these tips is that they are relatively simple and easy to implement so you can start adding them to your daily routine today. It is never too late to start taking better care of your heart.

  1. Start Walking- One of the best ways to maintain a healthy heart is to stay physically active. For seniors, this can be so simple. It doesn’t require a lot of strenuous work or a costly gym membership. All you need to do is walk. Even just 15 minutes of activity a day can help you live longer. So whether you are planning a short walk around the neighborhood, taking the stairs or parking farther away at the grocery store for a longer walk—little steps can really add up.
  2. Drink Water- There are so many beverages out there that claim to be “low fat” or “sugar-free” or “diet.” Ignore these drinks. Stick with water. It is so much better for you and for your heart.
  3. Keep it Simple With Your Diet- Remove foods from your diet that have extra sweeteners in them, and that are processed or packaged. Simple foods are best when it comes to maintaining a heart healthy diet. This means lots of fruits and veggies, lean, fresh proteins and whole grains. They can really help you live the healthy life you deserve and won’t have a negative impact on your cardiovascular system.
  4. Watch Your Blood Pressure- You should be monitoring your blood pressure regularly. Make sure you are aware of where your blood pressure is and that you are making healthy lifestyle changes to lower that blood pressure if it becomes too high.
  5. Keep Stress Low- It can be hard to keep your stress under control, but it is so important, not only for your mental well-being but for your heart as well. Excessive stress can increase your chances of getting heart disease and cause high blood pressure. While there is no magical cure for stress, there are things that you can be actively doing to help keep your stress levels low. The less you stress, the better your heart will be.

Keep these tips in mind if you are looking for proven ways to take care of your health and your heart. It can go a long way in helping you feel your best and know that you are taking care of yourself.

Senior Eye Issues 101: How to Handle The Most Common Visual Ailments

Unfortunately for seniors, eye issues are an important health concern that senior adults need to worry about as they age. Approximately 3.5 million Americans over the age of 40 face some type of age-related vision loss, and the chances of experiencing this type of vision loss only increase as seniors grow older. Many times, these vision issues are marked by a gradual loss of vision—and it’s something that happens slowly over time. Whether you are a senior or someone who is looking after a senior loved one, the more that you know about potential vision issues, the better.

How to Spot Vision Issues

One of the most difficult things about senior vision issues is that they tend to develop slowly over time and they often don’t come with a number of noticeable symptoms. The best way to determine if a vision issue is in fact forming is to take your loved one in for annual exams.

The Most Common Age-Related Eye Issues

There are four very common eye related issues that impact seniors. While these aren’t the only vision problems seniors can suffer from, the more you know about these more common ailments, the better.

  1. Cataracts

Cataracts is one of the most common eye issues to impact seniors today. Cataracts form over time and cloud the area of the eye that is supposed to remain clear. The location and size of your cataracts can impact your normal vision. Cataracts typically develop in both eyes, not just one and can cause decreased contrast sensitivity, sensitivity to glares, blurry vision and dull-looking colors.

  1. Diabetic Retinopathy

This is a common side effect of diabetes, which is why this condition is so common in seniors. This comes from gradual damage to the small blood vessels near the retina. Over time, these vessels will leak fluids and blood into the retinal tissues to swell and cloud your vision. Glucose intake can impact this condition. If not treated, this condition is capable of causing complete vision loss.

  1. Age-Related Muscular Degeneration

This is a condition that impacts the macula of the eye and can cause central vision loss. It tends to be more common with older adults and can worsen as you age. It can make basic day-to-day activities difficult as it impacts your central vision.

  1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is another common vision issue and it is cause by optic nerve damage from high eye pressure. It can lead to a loss of both side and peripheral vision and is the number one cause of blindness in the United States. You can find the symptoms of glaucoma early through a screening at your eye doctor.

If you are 60 or older, or if you are caring for someone who is, it is extremely important that you are going to the eye doctor regularly for examinations. These exams can help spot the early signs of these common vision issues so that treatment can be applied right away to help slow down or even stop their progression.

Does Medicare Cover Long-term Care?

Did you know that nearly three-quarters of people who are 65 and older will eventually need long-term care sometime in the future? These days people are living longer, and that increases the chances that you may need long-term care down the road.

Considering the cost of long-term care, this figure is worrisome for many people. The national cost of long-term care in 2016 was $6,844/month for a semi-private room. Further complicating this picture is that many Medicare beneficiaries are completely unaware that Medicare does not pay for long-term care.

Here are the important facts about Medicare and long-term care.

Long-term Care vs Skilled Nursing Facility Care

One of the critical things to know in terms of your Medicare coverage is that skilled nursing facility (SNF) care is not the same as long-term care. Medicare will cover some SNF nursing care costs on a short-term basis. It is designed to help you recover so that you can return to caring for yourself.

Examples of skilled nursing facility care might be care received after a stroke or a hip replacement. You are ready to leave the hospital, but you still need skilled nursing care, so your doctor transfers you from the hospital to the SNF.

To qualify for SNF care, you must have an inpatient stay in a hospital for at least 3 days before you get transferred to the skilled nursing facility. The SNF must also be certified by Medicare. Your care there needs to be related to the condition for which you were hospitalized.

Your physician needs to document his opinion that skilled nursing will help you improve. You cannot be in a state of health decline. There needs to be a reasonable expectation that after your SNF care, you’ll be able to return home.

Medicare Benefits for Skilled Nursing

If you are eligible for a covered admission to a skilled nursing facility based on doctor’s orders after a hospital stay, here is what Medicare covers:

  • 100% of the allowable charges for Days 1 through 20
  • 80% of the allowable charges for Days 21-100.
  • No coverage after Day 100 in any single benefit period.

Medicare Part A benefits are measured in benefit periods. A “benefit period begins on the day that you are admitted to the hospital. It ends once 60 days have passed after you’ve completed an inpatient stay. It is possible to have more than one benefit period in a single calendar year.

Since Part A (and B) have deductibles and copays that you are responsible for, many individuals choose to enroll in a Medigap plan when they first become eligible for Medicare. These plans help to fill in the gaps in Medicare.

Long-term Care

Long-term care, on the other hand, is for when you are no longer able to live on your own. For example, if you are having difficulty with tasks of daily living such as bathing, eating, dressing, and getting in and out of bed, you are not likely to recover to independent living.

This is a need for long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Medicare does not cover your stay – or your monthly “rent” – in a long-term care facility.

Oftentimes, long-term care is actually what we call custodial care, or help with basic tasks. Unfortunately, Medicare will not cover custodial care if that’s the only care that you need. Sometimes a home health care aide who is there to provide therapy services may assist you with custodial care as part of their visit, but If there is not a medical need for the home health care, it won’t be covered.

If you have a need for long-term care and have exhausted your personal funds to pay for that care, you can apply for Medicaid for assistance. Medicaid is a federal and state program which offers help with nursing home costs for people with low incomes.

Medical Care During a Long-term Care Stay

While Medicare doesn’t pay for the cost of your long-term care facility, you do still have coverage for medical care. Your physician appointments and lab-work and medical supplies will still be covered by Medicare Part B.

If you go into the hospital, Part A pays for your inpatient stay.  doctor visits, x-rays and lab tests, and durable medical equipment are covered under Part B. Your Part D drug plan will also still cover your prescription drugs even while you are in an assisted living or nursing home environment. However, you should check to see if the pharmacy in your nursing home (or that delivers to your nursing home) is in the network for your Part D plan.

What about Home Health Care?

Medicare limits the benefits that you can receive at home. If your doctor certifies that you are homebound and that you need specialized care on a part-time basis, Medicare may cover home health care for this. Medicare requires that this care is expected to help you recover within a reasonable amount of time.

The home health care needs to be short-term, usually 21 days or less. In general, Medicare can pay for up to 28 hours of weekly home health care services, including nursing and physical therapy.

Caregiving services by a home health aide are usually covered if they support skilled nursing care. For example, if the home health aide changes dressings or administers medications, that care is likely covered.

Just remember that if the home health care is limited to primarily custodial care, Medicare is not likely to cover it.

Hospice

If you are diagnosed to be terminally ill, with 6 months or less to live, then you can qualify for hospice care under Medicare Part A. You must receive this care at a certified hospice facility.

While you are in hospice, the rules are different. Medicare will allow custodial care. It’s common for Medicare to pay for hospice-certified home health aides.

Is Your Senior loved One’s Home Safe? Here Are a Few Questions to Ask

If you have an aging senior parent to look after, then you know just how important it is to keep your loved one safe. If your senior is continuing to live on their own, there are a few things that you can do to make sure the home they are living in is as safe as possible. So, how do you determine if your loved one’s home is truly safe? Here are some questions to ask yourself about your senior loved one’s home so you can make certain they are living in the safest environment as possible.

  • Are there loose rugs on the ground? This can be a tripping hazard?
  • Is there enough lighting? It is important that your loved one is able to see and doesn’t fall.
  • Are there smoke detectors? Make sure that they have batteries in them and are working.
  • Is there an alarm system? If you are worried about break ins, there should be an alarm system in the home that your loved one knows how to use.
  • Are the bathrooms safe? This is the number one area in the home where falls occur. Check to make sure there are sturdy handrails and that there aren’t mats that could present a potential tripping hazard.
  • Do the staircases have handrails? Make certain there are handrails in place and that they are securely attached to the wall.
  • Is there a fire extinguisher in the home? While you obviously hope your loved one will never need to use a fire extinguisher, there should still be one in the home should they need it.
  • Can your loved one reach a phone or emergency alert system at all times? Depending on your loved one, this may mean a portable phone they have with them at all times or a service such as LifeAlert.
  • Is it easy for your loved one to reach everyday items? Look at the basic items that your loved one needs to reach on a regular basis, such as kitchen essentials or medications. Is it easy for your loved one to reach these items? They shouldn’t have to strain or climb up on furniture in order to get these everyday items.

Questions like these are important, but these are details that are often not addressed when seniors are living alone. Don’t let potential safety issues such as this go overlooked in your loved one’s home. If your senior loved one is going to be living alone, then it is essential that you ask these questions to determine whether or not their home is safe.

Myths and Facts Every Senior Should Know About Nursing Homes

There are many seniors today who find that they when they reach a certain age, the best and safest place for them to live is in a nursing home. Nursing homes provide a great home for many seniors and a wonderful place for these individuals to enjoy their golden years. However, there is a certain stigma attached to nursing homes—one that has many seniors and their families feeling unsure of whether or not this is the best option for them.

However, a nursing home can be a great place for any senior to live and one that can provide them with the safe and comfortable environment that they deserve. This is why it is so important to understand some of the real facts about nursing home, as well as some of the myths and misconceptions out there about nursing homes that may have you unsure about nursing homes.

If you are a family member of a senior who is thinking about sending your loved one to a nursing home, here are the most important things that you need to know.

Let’s start with the myths to get those out of the way.

Myth: Moving an elderly loved one to a nursing home means stripping them of their independence. This is a common fear that many family members have and a myth that needs to be put to rest. Instead of stripping seniors of their independence, many nursing homes actually allow seniors to be more independent, by providing them with the resources they need to do more things safely on their own.

Myth: Nursing Homes Mark the “Final Days” of a Senior. It is important to remember that nursing homes are not hospitals. A senior is not going to a nursing home because they need hospice care. They are going there to get the care that they need to stay safe. There are many seniors who actually go to nursing homes after an illness or surgery so they can recover before they go back to their home or assisted living community.

Fact: Nursing Home Patients Have Rights. Just because your senior loved one is in a nursing home, it doesn’t mean that their basic rights are taken away. Your loved one’s rights are never taken away. In fact, seniors are actually protected by the government when in a nursing home. They can manage their own money and care and see their own doctor if needed, they also have the right to refuse any treatments or medications.

Fact: All Nursing Homes Are Unique. If you are considering nursing home care for your senior loved one, remember that every nursing home is different. Just because you find one nursing home you don’t love, it doesn’t mean that all of them are the same. Nursing home care and costs vary widely—some nursing homes are more care-oriented while others may seem more like country clubs.

Keep these myths and facts in mind if you are considering nursing home care for yourself or someone you love. The more you know about the reality of nursing homes and the quicker your are able to dispel the myths—the better off you and your loved one will be.